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Word-painting (Ger. Wortmalerei)locked

  • Tim Carter


The use of musical gesture(s) in a work with an actual or implied text to reflect, often pictorially, the literal or figurative meaning of a word or phrase. A common example is a falling line for ‘descendit de caelis’ (‘He came down from heaven’). The term is more usually applied to vocal music, although a programmatic instrumental piece might in some sense exploit the technique. Word-painting is often distinguished from mood- or tone-painting (the German ...

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A. Einstein: The Italian Madrigal (Princeton, NJ, 1949/R)
The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians
Musical Quarterly