Definition of ground bass in US English:

ground bass

noun

Music
  • A short theme, usually in the bass, which is constantly repeated as the other parts of the music vary.

    • ‘The 4th Movement, marked ‘Largo’, is a passacaglia having a series of diverse variations over a ground bass.’
    • ‘The passacaglia, strictly speaking, pits variations over a ground bass, although most composers from Brahms on shift the bass material around to all the voices, which he does as well.’
    • ‘L' Arpeggiata's way of improvising on these ground basses and repeated harmonic patterns is deliciously entertaining.’
    • ‘It may dawn on you (if you don't cheat and read the liner notes first) that it's also a passacaglia, a series of variations over a ground bass.’
    • ‘He produced many fine sets of variations on popular melodies and ground basses as well as stylized dance music (especially pavans and galliards) and such abstract pieces as fantasias and preludes.’

Pronunciation

ground bass

/ˈɡraʊnd ˌbeɪs//ˈɡround ˌbās/