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1. Music
a. the employment of characteristic patterns of notes, esp in variations on a theme
b. decoration or florid ornamentation in general
2. Art a figurative or emblematic representation
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005




the ‘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.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



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.

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Foregrounding address and figuration as they are deployed and performed in a broad stretch of postwar American poetry allows Keniston to map a compelling and original trajectory through the broader field of contemporary literature, juxtaposing figures who aren't normally linked, and moving across the spectrum of poetic practices, from poets whose work accords with conventional understandings of lyric to those writers who much more adamantly experiment with and overturn such conventions.
This overt denial of figuration creates an absence, a transgression of normal linguistic implications/expectations which does not so much eliminate as call into being by erasing such expectations.
30 These transformations of nature into pattern, of narrative into schema, of figuration into device are what gives ornament its authentic character.
The second concept is that human individuals are only able to be understood through their interdependencies with each other as part of broad networks of social relations, or what Elias referred to as figurations. Humans for Elias were social to the core and only exist in and through these relations, developing a socially constructed habitus or second nature.
I find Hagar figured as reminder of this danger in Williams's chapter on "Womanist Feminist Dialogue: Differences and Commonalities." Here Williams discusses Mary, a figure I have not addressed, but whose chain of figurations also runs through feminist and womanist theological discourse, often as a corrective to the maleness-of-Jesus problem.
There was a time, even in New York, when the decision to adhere to the figure - or "the image"- required great moral courage, since abstraction was dogmatized as what painting must be, and figuration was denounced as contrary to the imperatives of history.
In this respect, the form of the lesson could be understood as analogous to a musical binary form in which two sections, A and A', center on a theme or particular figuration and unfold it in analogous ways.
The mechanisms that produce these symbolic figurations are not examined in any detail, so that the highly intricate relationship between Petrarchan discourse and Elizabethan court politics, for instance, is shrunk to a bald statement: the "Petrarchist" model was the "predominant structure" in which "courtly self-fashioning" could take place (39-40).
The interarticulation of vernacular African American culture and language among the "high" arts of concert music, then, does not look so much like an outgrowth of a colorblind, totalized, postmodern condition as has been portrayed in works like Ronald Radano's New Musical Figurations: Anthony Braxton's Cultural Critique (1993) but instead reveals complex negotiations across the persisting cultural color line that exclusively inscribes "jazz" upon composers and forces them away from the kinds of intertextual (intermusical) projects they envision.
Their topics include seduced by method: history and Jeremiah 20, bare-naked: a gender analysis of the naked body in Jeremiah 13, figuration in Jeremiah's confessions with questions for Isaiah's servant, first-person figurations of servant and suffering in Isaiah and Jeremiah, prophetic sign acts as performances, and a synoptic reading of Jeremiah the lamenter.