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n. pl. os·ti·na·tos
A short melody or pattern that is constantly repeated, usually in the same part at the same pitch.

[Italian, from Latin obstinātus, stubborn, past participle of obstināre, to persist; see obstinate.]


(Classical Music)
a. a continuously reiterated musical phrase
b. (as modifier): an ostinato passage.
[Italian: from Latin obstinātus obstinate]


(ˌɒs tɪˈnɑ toʊ)

n., pl. -tos.
a musical pattern, as a melodic figure, repeated continuously throughout a composition.
[1875–80; < Italian: literally, obstinate < Latin obstinātus obstinate]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.ostinato - a musical phrase repeated over and over during a composition
ground bass - a short melody in the bass that is constantly repeated
musical phrase, phrase - a short musical passage
riff - a jazz ostinato; usually provides a background for a solo improvisation
References in periodicals archive ?
I particularly like the composers' use of ostinato, melodies that appear in the left hand as well as the right, and many interesting rhythmic patterns.
images and speech, is underscored by an insistent ostinato like all our hearts beating as one.
Fourteen members of the present-day Sun Ra performed (I heard them on May 22) in their signature style -- a long riff continuum over a bass ostinato with a touch of irreverent theatrics.
He observes connections between the motet's ostinato melody and similar melodies in other works praising saints and speculates on assigning attribution to local composer Pere Alberch Vila.
The piano-led tunes on Exercises are in some respects just another step on the comfortably worn pathway carved out by the likes of Michael Nyman, Harold Budd and Brian Eno, and "Exercise #3 (Buildings)" blatantly coopts the arcing ostinato melodies of Philip Glass.
As against the five-finger ostinato in the left hand, a seemingly simple melody unwinds in the right hand, but it is structured independently of the ostinato.
Above all, there is the remarkable Beni Mora, written in 1909, a few years after Holst's sojourn in Algeria, whose persistent ostinato against clusters and clashes of tonal color create a mesmerizing effect prefiguring the work of minimalists John Adams and Steve Reich.
The idea of the inescapable miseries of fate is hammered home time and again in his Symphony No 4, with only the Pizzicato ostinato Scherzo thrown in for light relief.
A 'musical' child may be fascinated by the ostinato effect of a villanelle, a practical child may attend closely to writing up a practical project or keeping a naturalist's journal, a sports-oriented child may read voraciously about Kelly Holmes or talk with animation about Rebecca Adlington.
Non sorprende tra l'altro che i progetti di riordinamento e le restrizioni imposte dal nuovo regime incontrarono solo di rado e con molte riserve il consenso del papa dal quale il monarca francese si senti irreparabilmente contrariato scandendo un rapporto per molti aspetti ostinato e controverso.
If every hour "teems" for Sze, for Davidson "every hour is the autopsy of a second" ("Starburst"); instead of cataloguing the myriad notes struck in any one moment, Davidson's poems deploy a chiasmus-like ostinato plundering of linguistic coincidences and resemblances to reveal more complex causes, meanings: "On the corner of every disaster," for example, morphs into "On the disaster of every coroner" in "Starburst"; in the wild ride that is the prose poem "Tokyo: A Parable," Davidson writes: "There is a bar in Tokyo where sushi arrives on the plate of a naked woman.
Combined with some virtuosic ostinato patterns, the effect was mesmerising.