con·​tin·​uo | \ kən-ˈtin-yə-ˌwō How to pronounce continuo (audio) , -ˈti-nə- \
plural continuos

Definition of continuo

: a bass part (as for a keyboard or stringed instrument) used especially in baroque ensemble music and consisting of a succession of bass notes with figures that indicate the required chords

called also figured bass, thoroughbass

Examples of continuo in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The continuo was judiciously realized by Michael Sponseller on harpsichord and Jacob Street on organ. Pam Kragen, San Diego Union-Tribune, 21 Mar. 2022 They’re normally performed unaccompanied these days, but in Bach’s day they were supported with discreet continuo. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 4 Oct. 2021 This is where soprano Anna Christofaro first emerged, lending soulful gentleness to a pair of arias from Bach cantatas with Merblum and Boehnke laying a continuo foundation beneath her. Rob Hubbard, Star Tribune, 22 Feb. 2021 Listen out for the slow middle movement without a continuo, solemn and still, set against a charming gavotte to wrap up. E.c., The Economist, 21 May 2020 Scored for five voices, five unspecified instrumental parts and basso continuo, the music is reverent and wistful. New York Times, 20 Mar. 2020 Finally, the all-Bach program showcased BCSD’s brand new continuo organ, a small portable pipe organ used to play harmony in Baroque music. San Diego Union-Tribune, 12 Oct. 2019 From the harpsichord, Bezuidenhout deftly carried out the double duties of continuo and conductor, the symmetrical orchestra played with plenty of heart, and as soloists, the eight singers were unassailable. Globe Staff,, 12 June 2019 The conductorless pit orchestra, anchored by an astute continuo section and concertmaster Robert Mealy, served the music with vigor. Globe Staff,, 10 June 2019 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'continuo.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of continuo

circa 1724, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for continuo

borrowed from Italian, short for basso continuo "continuous bass"

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The first known use of continuo was circa 1724

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Dictionary Entries Near continuo

continuity title



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Cite this Entry

“Continuo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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