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semitone

[sem-ee-tohn, sem-ahy-] /ˈsɛm iˌtoʊn, ˈsɛm aɪ-/
noun, Music.
1.
a pitch interval halfway between two whole tones.
Also called half step, half tone.
Origin of semitone
1600-1610
First recorded in 1600-10; semi- + tone
Related forms
semitonic
[sem-ee-ton-ik, sem-ahy-] /ˌsɛm iˈtɒn ɪk, ˌsɛm aɪ-/ (Show IPA),
semitonal
[sem-ee-tohn-l, sem-ahy-] /ˌsɛm iˈtoʊn l, ˌsɛm aɪ-/ (Show IPA),
adjective
semitonally, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for semitone
Historical Examples
  • A diesis is a quarter tone; hence in a semitone there are included two dieses.

  • The normal ear has such a range as to give about 33 rods to the semitone.

    How it Works Archibald Williams
  • From the sublime to the arabesque is but a semitone in his antic mind.

    Ivory Apes and Peacocks James Huneker
  • It would be unpardonable not to know how to distinguish or at least to sound a semitone.

  • Now, as to Paganini's tuning his instrument a semitone higher than the ordinary pitch.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work Stephen Samuel Stratton
  • Paganini wrote the solo part of his first concerto in D (tuning his violin a semitone higher), and the orchestral parts in E flat.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work Stephen Samuel Stratton
  • The solo violin is tuned a semitone higher, and the part is in D, while the orchestra plays in E flat.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work Stephen Samuel Stratton
  • The piece is in the key of E flat, and the violin is to be tuned a semitone higher, the soloist playing in D.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work Stephen Samuel Stratton
  • For this the violin is tuned a semitone higher, the solo being played in A, and the accompaniment in B flat.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work Stephen Samuel Stratton
  • Paganini again directs the violin to be tuned a semitone higher, writing the solo part in D, and the accompaniment in E flat.

    Nicolo Paganini: His Life and Work Stephen Samuel Stratton
British Dictionary definitions for semitone

semitone

/ˈsɛmɪˌtəʊn/
noun
1.
an interval corresponding to a frequency difference of 100 cents as measured in the system of equal temperament, and denoting the pitch difference between certain adjacent degrees of the diatonic scale (diatonic semitone) or between one note and its sharpened or flattened equivalent (chromatic semitone); minor second Also called (US and Canadian) half step Compare whole tone
Derived Forms
semitonic (ˌsɛmɪˈtɒnɪk) adjective
semitonally, adverb
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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Word Origin and History for semitone
n.

c.1600, from semi- + tone (n.) in the musical sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Word Value for semitone

10
12
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