Definition of polyphony in English:

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Pronunciation: /pəˈlifənē/

noun (plural polyphonies)

1The style of simultaneously combining a number of parts, each forming an individual melody and harmonizing with each other.
Example sentences
  • The combination of melodies in polyphony, one of the great artistic achievements of medieval Europe, has produced the need for a more specialized explanation of melody in Western music.
  • What surprised me was that a group from the opera chorus, joined by some students, wanted to give a whole concert of Renaissance polyphony, a style of music which the Russians never fostered.
  • Messiaen's almost Pentecostal polyphony not only makes us hear traditional melodies with new ears, it also makes us return to nature and listen to those sounds with a deeper spiritual understanding.
1.1A composition written, played, or sung in polyphony.
Example sentences
  • My favourite part is the quintet; it is a heavenly polyphony.
  • This particularly brilliant and beautiful instrument illuminates the most complex orchestral and choral polyphonies of Bach and Handel.
1.2(On an electronic keyboard or synthesizer) the number of notes or voices that can be played simultaneously without loss.
Example sentences
  • In effect, your keyboard can now be played with polyphony (simultaneous sounds) as high as the number of channels selected for Jazz Edit mode.
  • Using two iterations, I had nine polyphonic instruments up and running, with polyphony occasionally spilling over 100 notes simultaneously.
  • If you expect to exceed the polyphony limits of your keyboard with any regularity, check out what it does when you push the envelope.



Pronunciation: /-fənist/
Example sentences
  • With his teacher, Palestrina, Victoria was regarded as one of the greatest polyphonists of the age, his music renowned for its individual colour and dramatic vigour.
  • Concert FM's coverage of the Arts Festival continues with this Flemish ensemble that brings to life music from the Golden Age of the polyphonists in the Low Countries.


Pronunciation: /-fənəs/
Example sentences
  • So the aim is not to do without language, but to multiply its styles and to find ways of players of different language games to create huge, polyphonous, cacophonous, callipygous symphonies.
  • He is valuable only in underlining the need for Scotland to desist from its love for the underwhelming underdog and embrace the polyphonous diversity and universality of jazz, wherever it may reside.
  • Hukkle doesn't have any dialogue, but the rustle of everyday existence is turned up extra loud until everything seems to be asserting its frequency in the polyphonous drone of the phenomenal world.


Early 19th century: from Greek poluphōnia, from polu- 'many' + phōnē 'sound'.

Words that rhyme with polyphony

antiphony, epiphany, tiffany

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: po·lyph·o·ny

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