po·​lyph·​o·​ny | \ pə-ˈli-fə-nē How to pronounce polyphony (audio) \

Definition of polyphony

: a style of musical composition employing two or more simultaneous but relatively independent melodic lines : counterpoint

Examples of polyphony in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

His 1920s recordings with the Red Hot Peppers reached the peak of the New Orleans style of group embellishment and collective improvisation, with its trademark heterophony and polyphony. John Edward Hasse, WSJ, "Plotting His Way Into Jazz History," 7 Sep. 2018 These works were extremely influential among superior jazz and pop orchestrators of the 1950s, like Nelson Riddle, who were especially inspired by his use of polyphony. Will Friedwald, WSJ, "‘A Rhapsody in Blue: The Extraordinary Life of Oscar Levant’ Review," 21 Aug. 2018 This important trilogy, then, through its eloquent polyphony of voices and opinions, arrives at an idea of feminist art in opposition to the confessional mode that has long been in ascendance. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: The Monologues of Friends and Strangers," 1 June 2018 The original production evokes Baroque vocal tradition with its ethereal polyphony and four-voice block harmony, while the hypnotic simplicity of its melodic shapes sounds thoroughly contemporary. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Music / Post No Bills / Theater / Arts Facility Theatre transforms The Little Match Girl Passion from a vocal piece into a meticulously pitched spectacle," 19 Apr. 2018 True to the title, her program weaves together music of several centuries that has shaped the group’s history, ranging from Renaissance polyphony to works by John Tavener, Einojuhani Rautavaara, Frank Ferko and others. John Von Rhein, chicagotribune.com, "Recommended Chicago classical concerts for April 27-May 3," 26 Apr. 2018 The electrifying polyphony of the writing demands much of the performer. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Virtuosic Russian pianist Alexander Melnikov makes his solo debut in Chicago with a performance of Shostakovich’s epic 24 Preludes and Fugues," 18 Jan. 2018 The group celebrates 50 years with a program of works from Renaissance polyphony to American spirituals. Houston Chronicle, "On the go: Valentine's tastings and a crawfish fest," 7 Feb. 2018 The three-part polyphony soon gave way to unison singing, and, after a while, to silence. New York Times, "Sprawling Across New York, a Solstice Music Marathon," 22 Dec. 2017

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

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First Known Use of polyphony

1790, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for polyphony

Greek polyphōnia variety of tones, from polyphōnos having many tones or voices, from poly- + phōnē voice — more at ban

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Time Traveler for polyphony

The first known use of polyphony was in 1790

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More from Merriam-Webster on polyphony

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with polyphony

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about polyphony

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