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definition of the word melisma

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From Ancient Greek μέλισμα (melisma), song).


melismas or melismata

melisma (plural melismas or melismata)

  1. (music) A passage of several notes sung to one syllable of text, as in Gregorian chant.
    • 2007, Michael Chabon, Gentlemen of the Road, Sceptre 2008, p. 38:
      At the top of the hill in the archway of the main house, an eyeless old man sat on a bucket, scratching at a two-stringed gourd, warbling weird melismas on a madman's text.
    • 1985, Anthony Burgess, Kingdom of the Wicked:
      A choir sang one of the Lamentations of Jeremiah. The mournful melisma accompanied the slow procession to the palace built by Herod the Great, at present untenanted.

melisma” in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.

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