osti·​na·​to | \ ˌä-stə-ˈnä-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce ostinato (audio) , ˌȯ- \
plural ostinatos also ostinati\ ˌä-​stə-​ˈnä-​tē How to pronounce ostinato (audio) , ˌȯ-​ \

Definition of ostinato

: a musical figure repeated persistently at the same pitch throughout a composition — compare imitation, sequence

Examples of ostinato in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The song’s iconic four-note ostinato dates back to pre-Christian folklore, and was arranged into its classical musical form by Ukrainian composer Mykola Leontovich in 1916. Micah Hendler, Forbes, 31 Jan. 2022 Dolnick has not just a journalist’s fondness for narrative color but also an affection for England that plays, like a basso ostinato, beneath his text. The New Yorker, 22 Nov. 2021 And the film’s storytelling is as free as jazz — or, in fact, a then-unknown band named Earth, Wind & Fire, who lay down a funk ostinato topped by a snaky, blaring sax. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 23 Sep. 2021 The song describes a man obsessing about the girl who lives in the apartment above him over a clanging ostinato piano note. Kory Grow, Rolling Stone, 28 Apr. 2021 The sound of buildings going up is the city’s ostinato—its thrumming, hammering heartbeat. Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker, 23 Nov. 2020 On the Pittsburgh recording of the Seventh, the ostinato rhythm in the second movement takes on a distinctive vocal contour, with changing inflections from one note to the next. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 3 Feb. 2020 On the final one, a two-note ostinato creates a chugging momentum, quickly joined by a racing, jittery theme. Joshua Barone, New York Times, 10 Sep. 2019 The first movement is powered by ostinato figures, and the HSO brass played the opening in dark colors with fierce, menacing sound. Jeffrey Johnson, courant.com, 10 Mar. 2018 See More

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

First Known Use of ostinato

1928, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ostinato

Italian, obstinate, from Latin obstinatus

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The first known use of ostinato was in 1928

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Cite this Entry

“Ostinato.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ostinato. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ostinato

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ostinato


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