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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.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(Classical Music)
a. a continuously reiterated musical phrase
b. (as modifier): an ostinato passage.
[Italian: from Latin obstinātus obstinate]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(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]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
The use of ostinati on a single tone contributes to this: one instrument or group forms the core, with the others breaking away to a lesser or greater extent.
Bagna di pianto e fa' melati i preghi, tronca e confondi co' sospiri i detti: belta dolente e miserabil pieghi, al tuo volere i piu ostinati petti.
For one, this section prominently features a G[sharp] in the first trumpet in measures 65-68, while the bass and piano two-bar ostinati outline F[sharp]-minor and E-major chords.
Karageorgis' Polyosti dances (poly=many, osti=ostinato) are based on ostinati (repeating motifs) that are distributed to different instruments, creating harmonic sequences and melodic profusion.
You could invite a student into the middle of the circle to have a rhythmic conversation using nonsense syllables with you while the rest of the students continue their ostinati. The teacher may choose another student to join or several more students to join in the middle.
However, time and time again, Thom Meredith controlled the professionally played percussion ostinati as choir and orchestra augmented the texture and created explosive climaxes, as in the Sanctus.
There are some skillful ostinati and unifying motifs, and the accompaniments are mostly economical enough to be playable by voice teachers with moderate piano ability.
She maintained the syncopated 6/8 ostinati throughout the movement with a rhythmic vigor similar to her performance of the Beethoven earlier in the night.
Sorse f alba del nuovo giorno: quello che avrebbe consentito loro di raggiungere le Eolie per potersi godere, finalmente, quella meritata vacanza che si erano ostinati a perseguire con eroica tenacia.
Debussy's keyboard textures and patterns seem to show an endless amount of variety: simple melodies, thunderous chordal structures, fleeting and fingery passages, ostinati ranging from fanciful to menacing in effect.