Definition of declamation in US English:



  • 1The action or art of declaiming.

    ‘Shakespearean declamation’
    ‘declamations of patriotism’
    • ‘The actors rarely stay still for more than a moment, occasionally even rushing into the audience to issue yet another furious declamation.’
    • ‘Schoenberg sought what he called ‘speech melody’ - something between declamation and song - and he devised a notation that indicated the rise and fall of the voice, as well as its rhythm.’
    • ‘We protested against the old manner of acting and against theatricality, against artificial pathos and declamation.’
    • ‘In the Pit's small space the loud and unrhythmic declamation was too loud and too clipped.’
    • ‘But this should not be taken as evidence that the acting was mere declamation without emotion.’
    • ‘Neil Tennant, for all his limitations, is one of the most human singers I know, and not in some Whitney / Britney sense that equates humanity with loud declamation of ersatz emotion.’
    • ‘At the forum's height, it was not unknown for twenty or thirty meetings to proceed simultaneously, each speaker conducting a passionate, unamplified declamation, often punctuated by interjections and jeers.’
    • ‘This remained the case through to William Beveridge, whose declamation of the five evils of ‘Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness’ would be almost unthinkable now.’
    • ‘The fruity gravitas of the traditional actor's declamation had become a liability rather than an asset.’
    • ‘Without an exception these hangers-on are a shallow, mean-spirited bunch of bourgeoise no-counts, who mistake philosophical declamation for conversation and obsequiousness for love.’
    • ‘Titchmarsh just isn't programmed for portentous, monumental declamation.’
    • ‘By now, a type of free-style declamation known as ‘recitative’ (literally ‘speech-song’) was being used to hurtle the drama forward.’
    • ‘Aeneas's opening declamation continues for nine more lines in the same fashion, and this speech is typical of all his others throughout the play.’
    • ‘Motivation - particularly of the antagonist, Von Doom - was likewise absent, or, where it was articulated, it was in an irritating expository declamation by one of the primary characters on behalf of another.’
    • ‘In contrast to the declamations of the bureaucrats and politicians, the mood among the workers at the rally was more somber.’
    • ‘Thus Queen Elizabeth I's rousing declamation to her troops at Tilbury in 1588 falls into this category since it is hinged to the crisis of the Spanish Armada.’
    • ‘On the stage, Mrs Siddons senior and Mr John Kemble were remarkable for the solemn deliberation of their manner, both in declamation and action, and yet they were splendidly gifted in power.’
    • ‘He summarises the anti-capitalists' annual international get-together at Porto Alegre in Brazil as ‘a ragbag of declamation, hot air and vapidity’.’
    • ‘Now that shrill declamation is wearing decidedly thin with an electorate that is waking up to this overrated suburban solicitor.’
    • ‘His booming declamation often manages to override the humorous intent of many of Beckett's lines.’
    recital, saying aloud, reading aloud, declaiming, rendering, rendition, delivery, performance
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    1. 1.1 A rhetorical exercise or set speech.
      • ‘His Speech Day declamations, which took place on 5 July 1804, 6 June 1805, and 4 July 1805, played an important role in his self-fashioning.’
      speech, address, lecture, sermon, homily, discourse, delivery, oration, recitation, disquisition, monologue
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    2. 1.2 Forthright or distinct projection of words set to music.
      ‘a soprano soloist with wonderfully clear declamation’
      • ‘Temkey's commanding vocal declamation and warm, high lying, distinctively French baritonal sound recall Francis Poulenc's collaborator and frequent interpreter Pierre Bernac.’
      • ‘I insist on absolutely perfect German declamation, unique color, professional experience, stage resumes, and absolute commitment to Wagner.’
      • ‘The music of the best airs de cour meets the same criteria, generally preferring grace of line and clarity of declamation to the vocal pyrotechnics more typical of Italian music of the same period.’
      • ‘The opera's title role requires a soprano with the dramatic power to sing high-lying declamation over the full orchestra and chorus.’
      • ‘On the other hand, the cast was immaculate in matters of style, dramatic timing, and expressive declamation, achieving a level of ensemble polish and musical coherence that more-glamorous vocal personalities often fail to reach.’
      • ‘Besides, he was eager to experiment with a rapidly paced, conversational text that would give him opportunities to expand on the techniques of fluid musical declamation he had developed in earlier operas.’
      • ‘While sometimes bowed, Maria Guleghina is never beaten by these energy-charged vocal lines, music that requires a soprano as skillful at handling agile coloratura as she is with forceful declamation.’
      • ‘And in Holst's Vac (hymn to the Vedic Juno or Queen of All), her declamation brought to mind Janet Baker: a Maria Stuarda or a Gloriana in the making.’
      • ‘This criticism applies equally to those moments when Harwood relies on dramatic pause and indeed cathedral echo to reinforce the declamation and to some changes of registration when the essential line of the music suffers.’
      • ‘Martin clearly shares an approach toward choral music and choral declamation with Kodály, especially in the Brigand Songs, although you'd never mistake one for the other.’
      • ‘Instinctively he expressed vocal art through the ‘voice’ of the piano and stylised the vocal techniques of declamation, the arc-shaped fioriture and portamento.’
      • ‘Even in early motets such as the popular Ave Maria virgo serena Josquin shows true independence of mind, strongly innovatory tendencies, and a concern for the clear, rhetorical declamation of the words.’
      • ‘Mary Ann Smart discusses the stylistic opposition between French and Italian singers: dramatic force and precise declamation versus virtuoso display.’
      • ‘Sung as though it were animated, if elegant, conversation, Lully's operatic declamation sounds - as contemporary opinion insisted - not only majestic, but also lively.’
      • ‘There is a positively baroque reliance on recitative, or heightened declamation.’
      • ‘The ‘Ubi caritas’ unfortunately brings to mind the Duruflé setting, mainly due to the declamation and the predominantly modal character of both.’
      • ‘Schnittke's through-composed style is at times powerfully direct, but sometimes too direct, the chorus's declamation dramatic yet detached and almost perfunctory.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘a set speech’): from Latin declamatio(n-), from the verb declamare (see declaim).