ground bass


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Financial, Idioms, Wikipedia.
Related to ground bass: ritornello

ground bass,

melodic phrase used repeatedly as a bass line. In its earlier form, developed in the 13th and 14th cent., the ground or basso ostinato [Ital.,=obstinate] never varied in harmonization or pitch. The tenor, or pes, of Sumer Is Icumen InSumer Is Icumen In
[M.E.,=summer has (literally: is) come in], an English rota or round composed c.1250. It is the earliest extant example of canon, of six part music, and of ground bass. Four tenor voices are in canon and two bass voices sing the pes, or ground, also in canon.
..... Click the link for more information.
 is such a ground. Another sort was developed during the 17th cent. by Purcell and his contemporaries. This ground was not rigid as to pitch, sometimes moving from bass to soprano. It was composed with varying melodies and harmonies in the upper parts. The result was often a series of variations as in the baroque chaconne and passacagliachaconne and passacaglia
, two closely related musical forms popular during the baroque period. Both are in triple meter time and employ a characteristic recurring harmonic pattern or actual bass line of four or eight
..... Click the link for more information.
. The device often has great dramatic effect. J. S. Bach and Handel made remarkable use of it.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/

ground bass

, ground
Music a short melodic bass line that is repeated over and over again
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
The tutti interjections bring into bold relief two passages, period 5 and periods 13-14, in which distortion of the ground bass emphasizes the relative major key of B Flat; this coincides with periodic extension and disruption of the four-bar phrase rhythm.
In addition, the English division style casts a long shadow over this repertory; extended variations on ground basses and the use of the extreme high register of the bass viol suggest the influence of Christopher Simpson, Henry Butler, and the numerous lesser-known English emigre musicians on the continent.
An ideological undertone runs audibly like a ground bass through Evans's book.