Definition of obbligato in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌäbləˈɡädō/
(also obligato)

noun (plural obbligatos or obbligati /-ˈɡätē/)

[usually with or as modifier]
An instrumental part, typically distinctive in effect, that is integral to a piece of music and should not be omitted in performance.
Example sentences
  • It is not sung, but only declaimed, and the music is like an obbligato recitative.
  • The sequence of choruses, solos and duets accompanied by muted strings with, in turn, obbligato solo flute, oboe and horn, all supply inspiration and underline the work's deep spirituality.
  • The skilful use of obligato, the counter melody flowing around the main melody, is an unfailing attraction of his music.


Italian, literally 'obligatory', from Latin obligatus, past participle of obligare (see oblige).

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ob·bli·ga·to

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