- a slow, dignified dance of Spanish origin.
- the music for this dance, based on an ostinato figure.
- a musical form based on continuous variations over a ground bass.
Origin of passacaglia
1650–60; pseudo-Italian spelling of earlier passacalle < Spanish pasacalle literally, step (i.e., dance) in the street (pasa 3rd singular present of pasar to step, pace1 + calle street < Latin callem, accusative of callis path)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for passacaglia
These sonatas and the passacaglia were written for his young son, W. Friedemann, to practise on the pedal clavichord.Bach
Charles Francis Abdy Williams
Dance-measures, the passacaglia, even the jig, are not excluded; and a chorale has its counterpoint in a siciliano.Sebastian Bach
Reginald Lane Poole
Besides these there are the three great independent toccatas and the Passacaglia.
- an old Spanish dance in slow triple time
- a slow instrumental piece characterized by a series of variations on a particular theme played over a repeated bass partSee also chaconne (def. 1)
C17: earlier passacalle, from Spanish pasacalle street dance, from paso step + calle street; the ending -alle was changed to -aglia to suggest an Italian origin
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
Word Origin and History for passacaglia
dance tune of Spanish origin, 1650s, from Italian, from Spanish pasacalle, from pasar "to pass" (see pass (v.)) + calle "street." So called because they often were played in the streets.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper