Definition of semitone in English:



  • The smallest interval used in classical Western music, equal to a twelfth of an octave or half a tone; a half step.

    • ‘I remember being particularly horrified at the drop of a semitone on the word ‘Dona’.’
    • ‘By the end of ‘Cromosomi’, with its tricky harmonic sequence that descends in semitones, he had the audience in the palm of his hand.’
    • ‘The subject is almost all semitones, this time expressing yearning and anticipation, rather than sorrow.’
    • ‘Smaller intervals were derived on the same principles, so that the octave could eventually be marked out into tones and semitones which might be combined to form other intervals.’
    • ‘If the given key is not so advantageous to the singer we may end up playing the work a semitone lower, which makes a great improvement.’