Definition of tremolo in US English:



  • 1A wavering effect in a musical tone, typically produced by rapid reiteration of a note, or sometimes by rapid repeated variation in the pitch of a note or by sounding two notes of slightly different pitches to produce prominent overtones.

    Compare with vibrato
    • ‘It's based on triads, with these little tremolos in the strings.’
    • ‘It's a virtuoso performance full of muted notes, plucked resonance, bristling clusters, elliptical melodies, rolled chords and tremolos.’
    • ‘But he also interprets the shaking in musical terms using tremolos and trills, which can themselves be described as shakes.’
    • ‘In the second section the flute ignites sparks of tone through rapid tonguing, tremolos, staccatos and trills as the tape sounds ebb and flow, gradually evolving from one harmony to the next.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, when the strings were together, we were treated to a wonderful tremolo in the cellos, beginning as a mere susurrus, then pouring forth into a majestic sound.’
    1. 1.1 A mechanism in an organ producing a tremolo.
    2. 1.2 A lever on an electric guitar producing a tremolo.
      • ‘But then again I never use a tremolo arm anyway, although this might be because the standard tremolos such as the one on my Strat just send the guitar so out of tune that I can't be bothered with it.’
      • ‘It also had a tremolo arm, which kept working its way loose, so I'd wrench it round another time, so that it would sit nicely in place.’


Mid 18th century: from Italian.