Pronunciation: oe-stee-NAH-toe

What is Ostinato?

Ostinato is a musical figure defined as a motif or phrase that is repeated persistently in a musical composition. It is a short, melodic, or rhythmic phrase or notes, played on the same pitch. Ostinato can be found in a section of the composition or throughout the entire song.

Key Takeaways

  1. Ostinato is a phrase or figure in a musical composition that represents a persistent, repeated idea.
  2. It is commonly found in musical genres that have a lot of improvisation.
  3. Ostinato can be a repeated rhythm or a melody.

Understanding Ostinato

Ostinato comes from the Latin word, “obstinate,” and it means stubborn in Italian. The motif or phrase is an important part of improvised music, such as rock and jazz, and they are often referred to as vamps or riffs.

Some of the most popular songs that use ostinato include “I Feel Love,” by Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder in 1977, and The Verve’s “Bitter Sweet Symphony” in 1997.

Related Terms

Bridge A bridge is a section of a musical composition that contrasts the rest of the composition of the song. more

Improvise Improvise is an act of spontaneous creative activity in musical performance, particularly prevalent and essential in jazz music… more

Comping Comping is a term typically used in jazz music, which describes the musical accompaniment of a jazz soloist. more

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