Passacaglia (It.; Fr. passacaille; Ger. passacalia; It. passacaglio, passagallo, passacagli, passacaglie; Sp. pasacalle, passacalle)
- Alexander Silbiger
In 19th- and 20th-century music, a set of ground-bass or ostinato variations, usually of a serious character; in the earliest sources, a short, improvised ritornello between the strophes of a song. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with ‘chaconne’ (the forms ‘chaconne’ and ‘passacaglia’ are used throughout this article regardless of the national tradition under discussion). This article concentrates on the early years of the passacaglia, when the term had a quite distinct meaning. Its subsequent history, which largely parallels that of the chaconne, is summarized here; the two genres and their close relationship are explored in greater detail in the article ...