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absolute music

instrumental music, as a concerto or string quartet, that draws no inspiration from or makes no reference to a text, program, visual image, or title and that exists solely in terms of its musical form, structure, and elements.
Also called abstract music.
Compare program music.
Origin of absolute music
First recorded in 1885-90 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for absolute music
Historical Examples
  • Hellas, in a sense, is absolute poetry, as the "Eroica" is absolute music.

  • absolute music was set once for all on the right path by them.

    For Every Music Lover Aubertine Woodward Moore
  • For that they praised him, as if it were a sine qua non of absolute music that it should be in the sonata form.

    How Music Developed W. J. Henderson
  • The tendency of composers of absolute music at present is to make less and less use of the strict classic forms.

    How Music Developed W. J. Henderson
  • The rejection of a future for absolute music is, of course, purely arbitrary.

  • In other words—not Wagner's—dance approaches speech from one side just as absolute music does from the other.

  • Therefore, discarding critical crutches, it is best to hear the composition primarily as absolute music.

    Franz Liszt James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for absolute music

absolute music

music that is not designed to depict or evoke any scene or event Compare programme music
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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