Definition of chromatic in English:



  • 1Music
    Relating to or using notes not belonging to the diatonic scale of the key in which a passage is written.

    • ‘The musical style is full of charming melodies and a lightness of touch, a predilection for woodwind, simple diatonic writing contrasted by more chromatic and coloratura writing for the heroic and virtuous characters.’
    • ‘Although the piece is indebted to lush, late - 19 th-century chromatic harmony, there's something classical about the ambience of Fauré's soundworld.’
    • ‘Yet I have to say that its rigorous and intransigent atonal style with a preponderance of chromatic note clusters and major seventh and minor ninth intervals now seems outworn, its initial impact long dissipated.’
    • ‘When one works in a chromatic, rather than diatonic, idiom to begin with, it's not unusual to want to work with basic materials which incorporate all twelve tones.’
    • ‘Though you hardly notice it, the melody, beginning with its hook, is highly chromatic, and the harmony constantly mixes the major and minor modes in a way surprisingly reminiscent of Schumann or Brahms.’
    1. 1.1 (of a scale) ascending or descending by semitones.
      • ‘Below is the chromatic scale, both ascending and descending.’
      • ‘When the holes are placed at proportioned intervals, a simple chromatic scale can be produced.’
      • ‘I tried to envisage changing the traditional pentatonic scale to a 12-tone chromatic scale.’
      • ‘Both of these pitch standards define what are called ‘equal tempered chromatic scales.’’
      • ‘Inconveniently for composers, birds don't limit themselves to the chromatic scale, or to the confines of a straightforward metrical scheme.’
    2. 1.2 (of an instrument) able to play all the notes of the chromatic scale.
      ‘the master of the chromatic harmonica’
      • ‘18th-century basset horns had two basset keys, for D and C, but by the end of the century the instrument was fully chromatic.’
      • ‘The record was by a group that has since faded into obscurity, The Harmonicats, three Chicagoans who played chromatic harmonicas.’
      • ‘Perhaps the most solemn instrument is a full set of 65 chromatic bronze bells that date back 2,500 years.’
      • ‘And despite his omnipotence, Hunter doesn't steal the show from his group, which includes another minor miracle in chromatic harmonica player Gregoire Maret.’
      • ‘The nineteenth century added some mechanics to the beast to allow it some ability to play sharps and flats and to modulate, but it's still not a chromatic instrument, and since at least Wagner, music sings mainly chromatically.’
  • 2Relating to or produced by colour.

    • ‘These creations are marked by a precious detail, are rich in chromatic scale, accented by embroidery, hand-painted floral designs, and unique beaded fabrics reminiscent of Drecoll's.’
    • ‘In the experiments described in the last two sections, we purposely made achromatic intensity unreliable, to prove that moths used the chromatic aspect of colour.’
    • ‘In his essay ‘How Culture Conditions the Colours We See,’ Umberto Eco claims that chromatic perception is determined by language.’
    • ‘They are chromatic rays within a certain section of the spectrum.’
    • ‘Contrasts in scale and strategic placement within the layout heighten the chromatic offsets of color and black-and-white.’
    • ‘Stems and leaves of green set off the dreamy chromatic harmony.’
    • ‘On the other side his use of colour is very far from the traditional concept of harmony: the chromatic juxtapositions are often daring, or they are previously decided following laws fixed by the artist.’
    • ‘This fusion occurs only when the chromatic dots are too small to be resolved by the eye, or when they are viewed at sufficient distance.’
    • ‘Goethe argued that when the three primary colors were combined their unity contained the whole chromatic scale.’
    • ‘But when chromatic lights or colouring substances are mixed the eye sees only one colour and does not analyse out the components.’
    • ‘The rainbows, often referred to as ‘the glory’, are simply the chromatic fringes developed by diffraction at the margin of the shadow, but it's a startling spectacle.’
    • ‘Whitney also wrote on graph theory, in particular the colouring of graphs and chromatic polynomials.’
    • ‘In the hands of the Latin American magical realist, Gauguin's story has been transmuted into a lush story of frenzy, in vivid chromatic colours.’
    • ‘Female color patches, on the other hand, show lower chromatic and brightness contrast against the natural litter.’
    • ‘Mark Mussari explores the cultural significance of colour through a discussion of Umberto Eco's work on chromatic perception and visuality.’
    • ‘If the reduction of chromatic processing is due to postreceptoral colour mechanisms, we should expect age-related deficits in this task.’
    • ‘Within the realm of the image, the two ends of the chromatic scale stand out via the characters' insistence on evoking black and white animals, especially the zebra.’
    • ‘Campbell and company received the honour for their article ‘Multifocal lenses compensate for chromatic defocus in vertebrate eyes,’ which was first published in 1999.’
    • ‘The contrast of the warm glow of fruit with the intense chromatic greys on the canvas is simple, yet highly effective.’
    • ‘T males have several salient visual features compared with NT males that might be used, including larger physical size, brighter body coloration, and prominent chromatic body patterns.’


Early 17th century: from French chromatique or Latin chromaticus, from Greek khrōmatikos, from khrōma, khrōmat- ‘colour, chromatic scale’.