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[kuh n-tin-yoo-oh] /kənˈtɪn yuˌoʊ/
noun, plural continuos. Music.
a keyboard accompanying part consisting originally of a figured bass, which in modern scores is usually realized, and serving to provide or fill out the harmonic texture.
Origin of continuo
1715-25; < Italian: literally, continuous Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for continuo
Historical Examples
  • continuo summas se tollit caetus ad undas, T. stire, moves; comp.

  • In some cases Bach writes an organ obbligato part in addition to the continuo, or figured bass.


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • The orchestra consists of two flutes, two oboi damore, two bassoons, strings and continuo.


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • It was probably intended for the open air (perhaps for a funeral) as it is the only cantata with no continuo part.


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • In all Bachs church compositions in which there is an organ obbligato part, there is another organ part for the continuo.


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • And when they came to the last lines Kunz would ofttimes join in, taking the bass part or continuo to the melody.

  • continuo, culpam ferro compesce priusquam, Dira per infaustum serpant contagia corpus.

    Wanderings in South America Charles Waterton
  • The three strings are often complete without the continuo, but occasionally there is an extra part for this.

    Twelve Good Musicians Frederick Bridge
  • Nolo enim aliquem Christianum tam crudeliter pro me tractari, & continuo sublatum est quartarium.

    Henry the Sixth John Blacman
  • We cannot, therefore, say that an angel has a position in the continued (quod habeat situm in continuo).

British Dictionary definitions for continuo


noun (pl) -os
  1. a shortened form of basso continuo See thorough bass
  2. (as modifier): a continuo accompaniment
the thorough-bass part as played on a keyboard instrument, often supported by a cello, bassoon, etc
Word Origin
Italian, literally: continuous
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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