Definitions for obbligatoˌɒb lɪˈgɑ toʊ; -ti

This page provides all possible meanings and translations of the word obbligato

Random House Webster's College Dictionary

ob•bli•ga•toˌɒb lɪˈgɑ toʊ; -ti(adj.; n.)(pl.)-tos, -ti

  1. (adj.)(used as a musical direction) obligatory; not to be omitted.

    Category: Music and Dance

  2. (n.)a musical line performed by a single instrument in accompaniment to a solo part.

    Category: Music and Dance

  3. a continuing background motif.

    Category: Music and Dance

Origin of obbligato:

1715–25; < It: obliged

Princeton's WordNet

  1. obbligato, obligato(noun)

    a persistent but subordinate motif

  2. obbligato, obligato(noun)

    a part of the score that must be performed without change or omission


  1. obbligato(Noun)

    A part of the score that must be played as written; a required part.

  2. obbligato(Noun)

    An elaborate or flowery countermelody, often written to be played or sung above the principal theme (in a higher pitch range). Frequently includes a repetitive motif.

    John Philip Sousa's The Stars and Stripes Forever includes a famous piccolo obbligato.


  1. Obbligato

    In classical music obbligato usually describes a musical line that is in some way indispensable in performance. Its opposite is the marking ad libitum. It can also be used, more specifically, to indicate that a passage of music was to be played exactly as written, or only by the specified instrument, without changes or omissions. The word is borrowed from Italian. The word can stand on its own, in English, as a noun, or appear as a modifier in a noun phrase.


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