Definition of ostinato in US English:

ostinato

noun

  • A continually repeated musical phrase or rhythm.

    • ‘It too plays up the one-note ostinato and fools around with the major-third idea, sometimes sounding it backwards, sometimes upside-down.’
    • ‘Soon the music wells into a sensuous patterning that covers the whole tessitura, climaxing in the uppermost reaches where glistening ostinati by the ensemble are captured, looped and repeated as an extra textural layer.’
    • ‘The role of the person who is learning to improvise is to make up just one simple part, such as an ostinato or a new melody or a variation to the basic rhythm.’
    • ‘He speaks in lurchy, barely articulate ejaculations, set to curiously clunky music that in its effort to avoid fluid femininity slips at times into rather conventional patterns like imitative counterpoint and ostinatos.’
    • ‘Snippets of waltz occasionally float through, the Mozart connection abruptly contrasted by ostinatos, lilting chords, and variants of the Mozartian melody in Russian sounding woodwind lines.’
    • ‘He exploits rock idioms, such as rapidly repeated chords, ostinato bass lines and syncopated rhythms, but with little variation of content.’
    • ‘The initial ‘Meditation’ is very troubled, with hectic glissandos and fitful ostinatos.’
    • ‘The jazzy, flowing first movement made way for a stunning allegro: pizzicato ostinati, Spanish dance rhythms, dramatic passion to the fore.’
    • ‘Its bitonal ostinato and airy, whimsical melodies floating above create a convincing aural equivalent of a mirage.’
    • ‘It is to be found in the basso ostinato, a repeated bass line over which a keyboard player or lutenist improvises chords and a singer or player evolves a melody.’
    • ‘The vocal lines are simple and folk-like, the piano accompaniments full of drones and ostinatos, where the composer is clearly evoking the sounds of Finnish folk instruments such as the kantele, a bowed zither.’
    • ‘The ostinato rhythms and other exotic complications produce music that seems to come from the Far East.’
    • ‘The accompaniment is an ostinato that sticks to the memory like a burr and becomes hypnotic.’
    • ‘The guitar piece flows through multiple movements, some full of frenzied rhythms and interlocking ostinatos, others brimming with melodic grace.’
    • ‘The violin sonata in F opens with an ostinato that surely outstays its welcome.’
    • ‘The verses are doused in glockenspiel and well-blended synth and recorder, while the chorus positively soars on electric piano ostinatos and fluid bass.’
    • ‘The outer movements are both jazzy, with ostinati and motivic development in the first and brighter pizzicato textures and dance-like rhythms in the finale.’
    • ‘Usually a drummer plays these rhythmic ostinatos throughout a section or a whole piece, and then repeats them using improvisatory variations.’
    • ‘Through a chromatic mist of string ostinatos, a plainsong chorale gradually emerges in the brass climaxing in resplendent fanfares, before fading away into a haze of sound as the procession recedes.’
    • ‘The first section is built on a machine-like ostinato in toccata form that travels from the violas to the first violins, and eventually to the entire orchestra.’

Origin

Italian, literally ‘obstinate’.

Pronunciation

ostinato

/ˌästəˈnädō/