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a regularly recurring melody, such as the chorus of a song



(1) In poetry, a line or group of lines repeated at the end of a couplet. A refrain that forms an entire stanza is generally termed a pripev. The refrain and pripev developed in folk songs, in which the zapev (lead-in) was usually sung by a soloist and the refrain by the chorus. The refrain and zapev then entered literature, mainly genres that were meant to be sung or that were stylized in the manner of folklore. Such fixed verse forms as the triolet, rondeau, rondel, and French ballad are based on refrains.

(2) In music, a theme in an instrumental or vocal work that is stated at least three times and that unites the work structurally. It is characteristic of the rondo and rondo-like forms. Sometimes a refrain becomes the dominant theme and is repeated to emphasize a particularly important idea in the work.

References in periodicals archive ?
He refrained from attacking the jury that ultimately acquitted the murderer of his son, in what many Americans believed was a racist decision by the mostly African-American jury, who returned a verdict after virtually no deliberation.
Darwin, when writing his book on evolution (see 1858), had deliberately refrained from discussing human evolution in order to avoid controversy.
Bank of Japan has refrained from adding to its stimulus programme.
But gains were modest Thursday morning as investors refrained from snapping up equities before the outcome of the Senate vote on the revised $700 billion bailout package aimed at stabilizing the damaged financial sector.
The first unfair labor practice charge cites the union's discriminatory policy of penalizing employees who have refrained from signing a payroll dues check-off authorization.
The value of the Swiss franc has increased as the central bank refrained from interfering in the market, Bloomberg reported.
Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers refrained from mentioning dollar-yen rates at a press conference on Wednesday.