Definition of monody in English:



  • 1An ode sung by a single actor in a Greek tragedy.

    • ‘Its regretful, transfiguring ending, built out of a wonderfully orchestral monody, is remarkable, and the clarity of the textures is quite startling.’
    • ‘Many times, and particularly when combined with texts, the melodies are presented as extended monodies, carefully controlled so that Messiaen's words can be clearly heard.’
    • ‘I've mentioned the Easter monodies glowingly sung by Catherine King.’
  • 2A poem lamenting a person's death.

  • 3Music with only one melodic line, especially an early Baroque style with one singer and continuo accompaniment.

    • ‘Percussion and even the early harp played no part in the great development from monody to polyphony.’
    • ‘Among the different vocal and instrumental styles that characterise the medieval period, monody plays an essential part.’
    • ‘For me, one of its most interesting quotations was when he was introducing monody and the transition into the baroque.’


Early 17th century: via late Latin from Greek monōdia, from monōdos singing alone.