Definition of madrigal in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmadrəɡəl/


A part-song for several voices, especially one of the Renaissance period, typically arranged in elaborate counterpoint and without instrumental accompaniment. Originally used of a genre of 14th-century Italian songs, the term now usually refers to English or Italian songs of the late 16th and early 17th c., in a free style strongly influenced by the text.
Example sentences
  • Whether in strophic arias, simple canzonettas or elaborate madrigals, Kiehr's singing is effortlessly lush and nicely emotionally understated.
  • The music was drawn from his two most recent recitals recorded for Decca, a compilation of early-seventeenth-century English song and Italian madrigals and familiar folk songs from the British Isles.
  • The Turin tablatures contain a similar range of music notated in new German keyboard tablature rather than staff notation, including transcriptions of motets and madrigals as well as idiomatic keyboard music.



Pronunciation: /ˌmadriˈɡālēən/
Example sentences
  • Much of its music is in the ‘speech-song’ of the stile rappresentativo (as the title has it, ‘per recitar cantando’), but there are also madrigalian, strophic, and dance-like songs and simple, effective choruses.
  • The opening track, Dopo la vittoria, begins in sprightly madrigalian form, entirely appropriate to a commission from the City of Milan.
  • It is really the chorus that is centre stage (even when it is off stage), and the teeming Covent Garden forces had an overwhelming madrigalian splendour.


Pronunciation: /-ist/
Example sentences
  • His works for viol consort include sets of fantasias and stylized dances that show the influence of Italian madrigalists such as Monteverdi, with their expressive dissonances and melodic leaps.
  • The composer uses techniques favoured by 16th century Italian madrigalists particularly those of Monteverdi and Gesualdo.
  • Rubbra is justly associated with symphonic music and a pure, distinctive style of choral writing that owes so much to his study of and deep affection for the polyphonic style of Elizabethan madrigalists.


From Italian madrigale (from medieval Latin carmen matricale 'simple song'), from matricalis 'maternal or primitive', from matrix 'womb'.

  • mother from Old English:

    English mother, Dutch moeder, and German Mutter share their ancient ancestor with Latin mater (source of madrigal (late 16th century), maternal (Late Middle English), matriarch (late 16th century), matrimony (Late Middle English), matrix (Late Middle English), and matter (Middle English) the last two containing the idea of something from which something is made or born). The root probably came from the use of the sound ma made by babies, identified by mothers as a reference to themselves. The British expression some mothers do 'ave 'em, commenting on a person's clumsy or foolish behaviour, was apparently originally a Lancashire saying. The comic Jimmy Clitheroe popularized it, as ‘don't some mothers 'ave 'em, in his BBC radio programme The Clitheroe Kid, which ran from 1958 to 1972. The phrase gained further currency as the title of a 1970s BBC television comedy series Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, in which Michael Crawford starred as the clumsy, accident-prone Frank Spencer. The former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is remembered as having promised the mother of all battles on the eve of the first Gulf War. On 7 January 1991 The Times reported that he had no intention of relinquishing Kuwait and was ready for the ‘mother of all wars’. The proverb necessity is the mother of invention is first recorded in 1658, in Northern Memoirs by R. Franck: ‘Art imitates Nature, and Necessity is the Mother of Invention.’ The idea can be traced back further to classical times, to the Roman satirist Persius, who stated that ‘The belly is the teacher of art and giver of wit’.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mad·ri·gal

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