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configurationthe ‘nexus of interdependencies between people’, the ‘chains of functions’ and ‘axes of tensions’ -both of cooperation and conflict – which can be identified in any social context (ELIAS, 1978). The concept is the central analytical concept of Norbert Elias 's FIGURATIONAL SOCIOLOGY. Elias rejects any model of Man as homo clausus – the closed or discrete individual. Equally, however, he also rejects purely structural forms of explanation. It is the model of the ‘dance’ or the ‘game’ which Elias suggests best illustrates the focus he seeks to achieve in social analysis. The ‘image of the mobile figurations of interdependent people on a dance floor (or playing a sport-game) which makes it easier to imagine states, cities, families and also entire social systems as figurations’ (ELIAS, 1939). See also CIVILIZING PROCESS, COURT SOCIETY.
in music, the enrichment of a musical texture through the addition of melodic or rhythmic elements. In harmonic figuration, a voice, usually the bass, moves along the notes of a chord, producing a broken chord or harmonic ornament. The Alberti bass is a type of harmonic figuration. Rhythmic figuration involves the repetition of a single note, several notes of a chord, or an entire chord. In melodic figuration, turns or decorative figures, uniform in rhythm and frequently in melodic contour with the primary melodic line, are inserted between melodic phrases; these figures are close to melodic ornaments.
Since the 16th century melodic figuration has been used primarily when a melody is repeated at another pitch or on another instrument, in variations on the basso ostinato, and, in classical and romantic music, in the variational or reprise sections of a work. Melodic figuration also includes various types of discordant notes—suspended, passing, auxiliary, and changing notes.