Ostinato

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In music, an ostinato [ostiˈnaːto (derived from Italian: stubborn, compare English, from Latin: 'obstinate') is a motif or phrase that persistently repeats in the same musical voice, frequently in the same pitch. Ostinato_sentence_0

Well-known ostinato-based pieces include both classical compositions, such as Ravel's Boléro and the Carol of the Bells, and popular songs such as Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder's "I Feel Love" (1977), Henry Mancini's theme from Peter Gunn (1959), and The Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony" (1997). Ostinato_sentence_1

Both ostinatos and ostinati are accepted English plural forms, the latter reflecting the word's Italian etymology. Ostinato_sentence_2

The repeating idea may be a rhythmic pattern, part of a tune, or a complete melody in itself. Ostinato_sentence_3

Strictly speaking, ostinati should have exact repetition, but in common usage, the term covers repetition with variation and development, such as the alteration of an ostinato line to fit changing harmonies or keys. Ostinato_sentence_4

Within the context of film music, Claudia Gorbman defines an ostinato as a repeated melodic or rhythmic figure that propels scenes that lack dynamic visual action. Ostinato_sentence_5

Ostinati play an important part in improvised music (rock and jazz), in which they are often referred to as riffs or vamps. Ostinato_sentence_6

A "favorite technique of contemporary jazz writers", ostinati are often used in modal and Latin jazz and traditional African music including Gnawa music. Ostinato_sentence_7

The term ostinato essentially has the same meaning as the medieval Latin word pes, the word ground as applied to classical music, and the word riff in contemporary popular music. Ostinato_sentence_8

Classical music Ostinato_section_0

Ostinati are used in 20th-century music to stabilize groups of pitches, as in Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring Introduction and Augurs of Spring. Ostinato_sentence_9

A famous type of ostinato, called the Rossini crescendo, owes its name to a crescendo that underlies a persistent musical pattern, which usually culminates in a solo vocal cadenza. Ostinato_sentence_10

This style was emulated by other bel canto composers, especially Vincenzo Bellini; and later by Wagner (in pure instrumental terms, discarding the closing vocal cadenza). Ostinato_sentence_11

Applicable in homophonic and contrapuntal textures, they are "repetitive rhythmic-harmonic schemes", more familiar as accompanimental melodies, or purely rhythmic. Ostinato_sentence_12

The technique's appeal to composers from Debussy to avant-garde composers until at least the 1970s "... lies in part in the need for unity created by the virtual abandonment of functional chord progressions to shape phrases and define tonality". Ostinato_sentence_13

Similarly, in modal music, "... relentless, repetitive character help to establish and confirm the modal center". Ostinato_sentence_14

Their popularity may also be justified by their ease as well as range of use, though, "... ostinato must be employed judiciously, as its overuse can quickly lead to monotony". Ostinato_sentence_15

Medieval Ostinato_section_1

Ostinato patterns have been present in European music from the Middle Ages onwards. Ostinato_sentence_16

In the famous English canon "Sumer Is Icumen In", the main vocal lines are underpinned by an ostinato pattern, known as a pes: Ostinato_sentence_17

Later in the medieval era, Guillaume Dufay's 15th-century chanson Resvelons Nous features a similarly constructed ostinato pattern, but this time 5 bars long. Ostinato_sentence_18

Over this, the main melodic line moves freely, varying the phrase-lengths, while being "to some extent predetermined by the repeating pattern of the canon in the lower two voices." Ostinato_sentence_19

Ground bass: Late Renaissance and Baroque Ostinato_section_2

Ground bass or basso ostinato (obstinate bass) is a type of variation form in which a bass line, or harmonic pattern (see Chaconne; also common in Elizabethan England as Grounde) is repeated as the basis of a piece underneath variations. Ostinato_sentence_20

Aaron Copland describes basso ostinato as "... the easiest to recognize" of the variation forms wherein, "... a long phrase—either an accompanimental figure or an actual melody—is repeated over and over again in the bass part, while the upper parts proceed normally [with variation]". Ostinato_sentence_21

However, he cautions, "it might more properly be termed a musical device than a musical form." Ostinato_sentence_22

One striking ostinato instrumental piece of the late Renaissance period is "The Bells", a piece for virginals by William Byrd. Ostinato_sentence_23

Here the ostinato (or 'ground') consists of just two notes: Ostinato_sentence_24

In Italy, during the seventeenth century, Claudio Monteverdi composed many pieces using ostinato patterns in his operas and sacred works. Ostinato_sentence_25

One of these was his 1650 version of "Laetatus sum", an imposing setting of Psalm 122 that pits a four-note "ostinato of unquenchable energy." Ostinato_sentence_26

against both voices and instruments: Ostinato_sentence_27

Later in the same century, Henry Purcell became famous for his skilful deployment of ground bass patterns. Ostinato_sentence_28

His most famous ostinato is the descending chromatic ground bass that underpins the aria "When I am laid in earth" ("Dido's Lament") at the end of his opera Dido and Aeneas: Ostinato_sentence_29

While the use of a descending chromatic scale to express pathos was fairly common at the end of the seventeenth century, Richard Taruskin points out that Purcell shows a fresh approach to this musical trope: "Altogether unconventional and characteristic, however, is the interpolation of an additional cadential measure into the stereotyped ground, increasing its length from a routine four to a haunting five bars, against which the vocal line, with its despondent refrain ("Remember me! Ostinato_sentence_30

"), is deployed with marked asymmetry. Ostinato_sentence_31

That, in addition to Purcell's distinctively dissonant, suspension-saturated harmony, enhanced by additional chromatic descents during the final ritornello and by many deceptive cadences, makes this little aria an unforgettably poignant embodiment of ." Ostinato_sentence_32

See also: Lament bass. Ostinato_sentence_33

However, this is not the only ostinato pattern that Purcell uses in the opera. Ostinato_sentence_34

Dido's opening aria "Ah, Belinda" is a further demonstration of Purcell's technical mastery: the phrases of the vocal line do not always coincide with the four-bar ground: Ostinato_sentence_35

"Purcell's compositions over a ground vary in their working out, and the repetition never becomes a restriction." Ostinato_sentence_36

Purcell's instrumental music also featured ground patterns. Ostinato_sentence_37

A particularly fine and complex example is his Fantasia upon a Ground for three violins and continuo: Ostinato_sentence_38

The intervals in the above pattern are found in many works of the Baroque Period. Ostinato_sentence_39

Pachelbel's Canon also uses a similar sequence of notes in the bass part: Ostinato_sentence_40

Two pieces by J.S.Bach are particularly striking for their use of an ostinato bass: the Crucifixus from his Mass in B minor and the Passacaglia in C minor for organ, which has a ground rich in melodic intervals: Ostinato_sentence_41

The first variation that Bach builds over this ostinato consists of a gently syncopated motif in the upper voices: Ostinato_sentence_42

This characteristic rhythmic pattern continues in the second variation, but with some engaging harmonic subtleties, especially in the second bar, where an unexpected chord creates a passing implication of a related key: Ostinato_sentence_43

In common with other Passacaglias of the era, the ostinato is not simply confined to the bass, but rises to the uppermost part later in the piece: Ostinato_sentence_44

A performance of the entire piece can be heard . Ostinato_sentence_45

Late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Ostinato_section_3

Ostinatos feature in many works of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Ostinato_sentence_46

Mozart uses an ostinato phrase throughout the big scene that ends Act 2 of the Marriage of Figaro, to convey a sense of suspense as the jealous Count Almaviva tries in vain to incriminate the Countess, his wife, and Figaro, his butler, for plotting behind his back. Ostinato_sentence_47

A famous type of ostinato, called the Rossini crescendo, owes its name to a crescendo that underlies a persistent musical pattern, which usually culminates in a solo vocal cadenza. Ostinato_sentence_48

In the energetic Scherzo of Beethoven’s late C sharp minor Quartet, Op. 131, there is a harmonically static passage, with "the repetitiveness of a nursery rhyme" that consists of an ostinato shared between viola and cello supporting a melody in octaves in the first and second violins: Ostinato_sentence_49

Beethoven reverses this relationship a few bars later with the melody in the viola and cello and the ostinato shared between the violins: Ostinato_sentence_50

Both the first and third acts of Wagner's final opera Parsifal feature a passage accompanying a scene where a band of Knights solemnly processes from the depths of forest to the hall of the Grail. Ostinato_sentence_51

The "Transformation music" that supports this change of scene is dominated by the iterated tolling of four bells: Ostinato_sentence_52

Brahms used ostinato patterns in both the finale of his Fourth Symphony and in the closing section of his Variations on a Theme by Haydn: Ostinato_sentence_53

Twentieth century Ostinato_section_4

Debussy featured an ostinato pattern throughout his Piano Prelude "Des pas sur la neige". Ostinato_sentence_54

Here, the ostinato pattern stays in the middle register of the piano – it is never used as a bass. Ostinato_sentence_55

"Remark that the footfall ostinato remains nearly throughout on the same notes, at the same pitch level... this piece is an appeal to the basic loneliness of all human beings, oft-forgotten perhaps, but, like the ostinato, forming a basic undercurrent of our history." Ostinato_sentence_56

Of all the major classical composers of the Twentieth Century, Stravinsky is possibly the one most associated with the practice of ostinato. Ostinato_sentence_57

In conversation with the composer, his friend and colleague Robert Craft remarked "Your music always has an element of repetition, of ostinato. Ostinato_sentence_58

What is the function of ostinato?" Ostinato_sentence_59

Stravinsky replied; "It is static – that is, anti-development; and sometimes we need a contradiction to development." Ostinato_sentence_60

Stravinsky was particularly skilled at using ostinatos to confound rather than confirm rhythmic expectations. Ostinato_sentence_61

In the first of his Three Pieces for String Quartet, Stravinsky sets up three repeated patterns, which overlap one another and never . Ostinato_sentence_62

"Here a rigid pattern of (3+2+2/4) bars is laid over a strictly recurring twenty-three-beat tune (the bars being marked by a cello ostinato), so that their changing relationship is governed primarily by the pre-compositional scheme." Ostinato_sentence_63

"The rhythmical current running through the music is what binds together these curious mosaic-like pieces." Ostinato_sentence_64

A subtler metrical conflict can be found in the final section of Stravinsky's Symphony of Psalms. Ostinato_sentence_65

The choir sing a melody in triple time, while the bass instruments in the orchestra play a 4-beat ostinato against this. Ostinato_sentence_66

"This is built up over an ostinato bass (harp, two pianos and timpani) moving in fourths like a ." Ostinato_sentence_67

Sub-Saharan African music Ostinato_section_5

Counter-metric structure Ostinato_section_6

Many instruments south of the Sahara Desert play ostinato melodies. Ostinato_sentence_68

These include lamellophones such as the mbira, as well as xylophones like the balafon, the bikutsi, and the gyil. Ostinato_sentence_69

Ostinato figures are also played on string instruments such as the kora, gankoqui bell ensembles, and pitched drums ensembles. Ostinato_sentence_70

Often, African ostinatos contain offbeats or cross-beats, that contradict the metric structure. Ostinato_sentence_71

Other African ostinatos generate complete cross-rhythms by sounding both the main beats and cross-beats. Ostinato_sentence_72

In the following example, a gyil sounds the three-against-two cross-rhythm (hemiola). Ostinato_sentence_73

The left hand (lower notes) sounds the two main beats, while the right hand (upper notes) sounds the three cross-beats. Ostinato_sentence_74

African harmonic progressions Ostinato_section_7

Popular dance bands in West Africa and the Congo region feature ostinato-playing guitars. Ostinato_sentence_75

The African guitar parts are drawn from a variety of sources, including the indigenous mbira, as well as foreign influences such as James Brown-type funk riffs. Ostinato_sentence_76

However, the foreign influences are interpreted through a distinctly African ostinato sensibility. Ostinato_sentence_77

African guitar styles began with Congolese bands doing Cuban "cover" songs. Ostinato_sentence_78

The Cuban guajeo had a both familiar and exotic quality to the African musicians. Ostinato_sentence_79

Gradually, various regional guitar styles emerged, as indigenous influences became increasingly dominant within these Africanized guajeos. Ostinato_sentence_80

As Moore states, "One could say that I – IV – V – IV [chord progressions] is to African music what the 12-bar blues is to North American music." Ostinato_sentence_81

Such progressions seem superficially to follow the conventions of Western music theory. Ostinato_sentence_82

However, performers of African popular music do not perceive these progressions in the same way. Ostinato_sentence_83

Harmonic progressions which move from the tonic to the subdominant (as they are known in European music) have been used in Traditional sub-Saharan African harmony for hundreds of years. Ostinato_sentence_84

Their elaborations follow all the conventions of traditional African harmonic principles. Ostinato_sentence_85

Gehard Kubik concludes: Ostinato_sentence_86

Afro-Cuban guajeo Ostinato_section_8

A guajeo is a typical Cuban ostinato melody, most often consisting of arpeggiated chords in syncopated patterns. Ostinato_sentence_87

The guajeo is a hybrid of the African and European ostinato. Ostinato_sentence_88

The guajeo was first played as accompaniment on the tres in the folkloric changüí and son. Ostinato_sentence_89

The term guajeo is often used to mean specific ostinato patterns played by a tres, piano, an instrument of the violin family, or saxophones. Ostinato_sentence_90

The guajeo is a fundamental component of modern-day salsa, and Latin jazz. Ostinato_sentence_91

The following example shows a basic guajeo pattern. Ostinato_sentence_92

The guajeo is a seamless Afro-Euro ostinato hybrid, which has had a major influence upon jazz, R&B, rock 'n' roll and popular music in general. Ostinato_sentence_93

The Beatles' "I Feel Fine" guitar riff is guajeo-like. Ostinato_sentence_94

Riff Ostinato_section_9

Main article: Riff Ostinato_sentence_95

In various popular music styles, riff refers to a brief, relaxed phrase repeated over changing melodies. Ostinato_sentence_96

It may serve as a refrain or melodic figure, often played by the rhythm section instruments or solo instruments that form the basis or accompaniment of a musical composition. Ostinato_sentence_97

Though they are most often found in rock music, heavy metal music, Latin, funk and jazz, classical music is also sometimes based on a simple riff, such as Ravel's Boléro. Ostinato_sentence_98

Riffs can be as simple as a tenor saxophone honking a simple, catchy rhythmic figure, or as complex as the riff-based variations in the head arrangements played by the Count Basie Orchestra. Ostinato_sentence_99

David Brackett (1999) defines riffs as "short melodic phrases", while Richard Middleton (1999) defines them as "short rhythmic, melodic, or harmonic figures repeated to form a structural framework". Ostinato_sentence_100

Rikky Rooksby states: "A riff is a short, repeated, memorable musical phrase, often pitched low on the guitar, which focuses much of the energy and excitement of a rock song." Ostinato_sentence_101

In jazz and R&B, riffs are often used as the starting point for longer compositions. Ostinato_sentence_102

The riff from Charlie Parker's bebop number "Now's the Time" (1945) re-emerged four years later as the R&B dance hit "The Hucklebuck". Ostinato_sentence_103

The verse of "The Hucklebuck"—another riff—was "borrowed" from the Artie Matthews composition "Weary Blues". Ostinato_sentence_104

Glenn Miller's "In the Mood" had an earlier life as Wingy Manone's "Tar Paper Stomp". Ostinato_sentence_105

All these songs use twelve bar blues riffs, and most of these riffs probably precede the examples given. Ostinato_sentence_106

Neither of the terms 'riff' or 'lick' are used in classical music. Ostinato_sentence_107

Instead, individual musical phrases used as the basis of classical music pieces are called ostinatos or simply phrases. Ostinato_sentence_108

Contemporary jazz writers also use riff- or lick-like ostinatos in modal music. Ostinato_sentence_109

Latin jazz often uses guajeo-based riffs. Ostinato_sentence_110

Vamp Ostinato_section_10

In music, a vamp is a repeating musical figure, section, or accompaniment used in blues, jazz, gospel, soul, and musical theater. Ostinato_sentence_111

Vamps are also found in rock, funk, reggae, R&B, pop, country, and post-sixties jazz. Ostinato_sentence_112

Vamps are usually harmonically sparse: A vamp may consist of a single chord or a sequence of chords played in a repeated rhythm. Ostinato_sentence_113

The term frequently appeared in the instruction 'Vamp till ready' on sheet music for popular songs in the 1930s and 1940s, indicating the accompanist should repeat the musical phrase until the vocalist was ready. Ostinato_sentence_114

Vamps are generally symmetrical, self-contained, and open to variation. Ostinato_sentence_115

The equivalent in classical music is an ostinato, in hip hop and electronic music the loop, and in rock music the riff. Ostinato_sentence_116

The slang term vamp comes from the Middle English word vampe (sock), from Old French avanpie, equivalent to Modern French avant-pied, literally before-foot. Ostinato_sentence_117

Many vamp-oriented songwriters begin the creative process by attempting to evoke a mood or feeling while riffing freely on an instrument or scat singing. Ostinato_sentence_118

Many well known artists primarily build songs with a vamp/riff/ostinato based approach—including John Lee Hooker ("Boogie Chillen", "House Rent Boogie"), Bo Diddley ("Hey Bo Diddley", "Who Do You Love? Ostinato_sentence_119 "), Jimmy Page ("Ramble On", "Bron Yr Aur"), Nine Inch Nails ("Closer"), and Beck ("Loser"). Ostinato_sentence_120

Classic examples of vamps in jazz include "A Night in Tunisia", "Take Five", "A Love Supreme", "Maiden Voyage", and "Cantaloupe Island". Ostinato_sentence_121

Rock examples include the long jam at the ends of "Loose Change" by Neil Young and Crazy Horse and "Sooner or Later" by King's X. Ostinato_sentence_122

Jazz, fusion, and Latin jazz Ostinato_section_11

In jazz, fusion, and related genres, a background vamp provides a performer with a harmonic framework supporting improvisation. Ostinato_sentence_123

In Latin jazz guajeos fulfill the role of piano vamp. Ostinato_sentence_124

A vamp at the beginning of a jazz tune may act as a springboard to the main tune; a vamp at the end of a song is often called a tag. Ostinato_sentence_125

Examples Ostinato_section_12

"Take Five" begins with a repeated, syncopated figure in 4 time, which pianist Dave Brubeck plays throughout the song (except for Joe Morello's drum solo and a variation on the chords in the middle section). Ostinato_sentence_126

The music from Miles Davis's modal period (c.1958–1963) was based on improvising songs with a small number of chords. Ostinato_sentence_127

The jazz standard "So What" uses a vamp in the two-note "Sooooo what?" Ostinato_sentence_128

figure, regularly played by the piano and the trumpet throughout. Ostinato_sentence_129

Jazz scholar Barry Kernfeld calls this music vamp music. Ostinato_sentence_130

Examples include the outros to George Benson's "Body Talk" and "Plum", and the solo changes to "Breezin'". Ostinato_sentence_131

The following songs are dominated by vamps: John Coltrane, Kenny Burrell, and Grant Green's versions of "My Favorite Things", Herbie Hancock's "Watermelon Man" and "Chameleon", Wes Montgomery's "Bumpin' on Sunset", and Larry Carlton's "Room 335". Ostinato_sentence_132

The Afro-Cuban vamp style known as guajeo is used in the bebop/Latin jazz standard "A Night in Tunisia". Ostinato_sentence_133

Depending upon the musician, a repeating figure in "A Night in Tunisia" could be called an ostinato, guajeo, riff, or vamp. Ostinato_sentence_134

The Cuban-jazz hybrid spans the disciplines that encompass all these terms. Ostinato_sentence_135

Gospel, soul, and funk Ostinato_section_13

In gospel and soul music, the band often vamps on a simple ostinato groove at the end of a song, usually over a single chord. Ostinato_sentence_136

In soul music, the end of recorded songs often contains a display of vocal effects—such as rapid scales, arpeggios, and improvised passages. Ostinato_sentence_137

For recordings, sound engineers gradually fade out the vamp section at the end of a song, to transition to the next track on the album. Ostinato_sentence_138

Salsoul singers such as Loleatta Holloway have become notable for their vocal improvisations at the end of songs, and they are sampled and used in other songs. Ostinato_sentence_139

Andrae Crouch extended the use of vamps in gospel, introducing chain vamps (one vamp after the other, each successive vamp drawn from the first). Ostinato_sentence_140

1970s-era funk music often takes a short one or two bar musical figure based on a single chord one would consider an introduction vamp in jazz or soul music, and then uses this vamp as the basis of the entire song ("Funky Drummer" by James Brown, for example). Ostinato_sentence_141

Jazz, blues, and rock are almost always based on chord progressions (a sequence of changing chords), and they use the changing harmony to build tension and sustain listener interest. Ostinato_sentence_142

Unlike these music genres, funk is based on the rhythmic groove of the percussion, rhythm section instruments, and a deep electric bass line, usually all over a single chord. Ostinato_sentence_143

"In funk, harmony is often second to the 'lock,' the linking of contrapuntal parts that are played on guitar, bass, and drums in the repeating vamp." Ostinato_sentence_144

Examples include Stevie Wonder's vamp-based "Superstition" and Little Johnny Taylor's "Part Time Love", which features an extended improvisation over a two-chord vamp. Ostinato_sentence_145

Musical theater Ostinato_section_14

In musical theater, a vamp, or intro, is the few bars, one to eight, of music without lyrics that begin a printed copy of a song. Ostinato_sentence_146

The orchestra may repeat the vamp or other accompaniment during dialogue or stage business, as accompaniment for onstage transitions of indeterminate length. Ostinato_sentence_147

The score provides a one or two bar vamp figure, and indicates, "Vamp till cue", by the conductor. Ostinato_sentence_148

The vamp gives the onstage singers time to prepare for the song or the next verse, without requiring the music to pause. Ostinato_sentence_149

Once the vamp section is over, the music continues to the next section. Ostinato_sentence_150

The vamp may be written by the composer of the song, a copyist employed by the publisher, or the arranger for the vocalist. Ostinato_sentence_151

The vamp serves three main purposes: it provides the key, establishes the tempo, and provides emotional context. Ostinato_sentence_152

The vamp may be as short as a bell tone, sting (a harmonized bell tone with stress on the starting note), or measures long. Ostinato_sentence_153

The rideout is the transitional music that begins on the downbeat of the last word of the song and is usually two to four bars long, though it may be as short as a sting or as long as a Roxy Rideout. Ostinato_sentence_154

Indian classical music Ostinato_section_15

Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostinato.