Definition of neume in English:


Line breaks: neume
Pronunciation: /njuːm
(also neum)


  • 1(In plainsong) a note or group of notes to be sung to a single syllable.
    More example sentences
    • There were also ‘liquescent’ neumes - ornamental neumes that required special types of vocal delivery.
    • And yet, just how and where we moved from the neume to the square note has not been studied until now.
    • To illustrate the development from neumes to notes, we take the Offertory Illumina, from the 10th Sunday.
  • 1.1A sign indicating a neume.
    More example sentences
    • This notation, common in some form or another to all early manuscripts, consisted of staffless ‘neumes ', signs that to a certain extent indicate the contour of the melodies but not the exact intervals.
    • In the 11 th Century, the neums are placed on lines for better pitch accuracy.
    • Rhythmic letters and episemas can be attached to these elements, and will stay with the neume where it is dragged on the staff.


late Middle English: from Old French neume, from medieval Latin neu(p)ma, from Greek pneuma 'breath'.

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