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melisma

[ mi-liz-muh ]
/ mɪˈlɪz mə /
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noun, plural me·lis·mas, me·lis·ma·ta [mi-liz-muh-tuh]. /mɪˈlɪz mə tə/. Music.

an ornamental phrase of several notes sung to one syllable of text, as in plainsong or blues singing.

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Origin of melisma

First recorded in 1605–15, melisma is from the Greek word mélisma song, tune. See melody, -ism
mel·is·mat·ic [mel-iz-mat-ik], /ˌmɛl ɪzˈmæt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

British Dictionary definitions for melisma

melisma
/ (mɪˈlɪzmə) /

noun plural -mata (-mətə) or -mas

music an expressive vocal phrase or passage consisting of several notes sung to one syllable
melismatic (ˌmɛlɪzˈmætɪk), adjective
C19: from Greek: melody
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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