Sunday, August 29, 2004


Ostinato is a short musical pattern that is repeated many times throughout a performance or composition or a section of one. Repetition of this type is found in the music of cultures throughout the world and is especially a characteristic of the music of Africa, hence its presence in much folk and popular music elsewhere and in some 20th century Western art music.
Melodic ostinatos, usually very short patterns, are found in a single voice, most often the tenor, of 13th century motets. I think of ostinato as the kind of theme that goes on through the piece, however, not the very most important one. Its kind of the backround melody that goes on many times throughout the piece. An ostinato provides unifying repetition.

(The Harvard Dictionary of Music, Randel, Don)