Definition of obbligato in English:


(US obligato)

nounPlural obbligati, Plural obbligatos

  • usually with or as modifier An instrumental part, typically distinctive in effect, which is integral to a piece of music and should not be omitted in performance.

    ‘with piano obbligato’
    ‘the obbligato part’
    • ‘Look, if you want a descending obligato, do it in the privacy of your own home away from us normal people.’
    • ‘It is not sung, but only declaimed, and the music is like an obbligato recitative.’
    • ‘The sequence of choruses, solos and duets accompanied by muted strings with, in turn, obbligato solo flute, oboe and horn, all supply inspiration and underline the work's deep spirituality.’
    • ‘The skilful use of obligato, the counter melody flowing around the main melody, is an unfailing attraction of his music.’
    • ‘Her voice joined in; softly working it's way through the obbligato, increasing in volume gradually.’
    backing, support, background, soundtrack, comp
    View synonyms


Italian, literally ‘obligatory’, from Latin obligatus, past participle of obligare (see oblige).