from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Music Of, relating to, or characterized by polyphony.
  • adjective Linguistics Having two or more phonetic values.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Capable of being read or pronounced in more than one way: said of a written character.
  • Consisting of or having many voices or sounds.
  • In music: Noting a method of composition or a work in which two or more voice-parts are simultaneously combined without losing their independent character, but with harmonious effect; contrapuntal: opposed on one side to monodic, monophonic, and homophonic, and on another to harmonic: as, a fugue is a polyphonic form of composition
  • Noting an instrument which is capable of producing more than one tone at a time, as an organ or a harp. Also polyphonous.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Having a multiplicity of sounds.
  • adjective Characterized by polyphony.
  • adjective (Mus.) Consisting of several tone series, or melodic parts, progressing simultaneously according to the laws of counterpoint; contrapuntal; ; -- opposed to homophonic, or monodic.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective of, or relating to polyphony
  • adjective music having two or more independent but harmonic melodies; contrapuntal
  • adjective of an electronic device able to play more than one musical note at the same time

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective having two or more phonetic values
  • adjective of or relating to or characterized by polyphony
  • adjective having two or more independent but harmonically related melodic parts sounding together


Sorry, no etymologies found.


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  • I institute quite early what I call polyphonic technic -- one hand doing a different movement or touch from the other.

    Piano Mastery Talks with Master Pianists and Teachers

  • The specialization here is mostly in polyphonic choral music, and, looking through their repertoire, it is dovetails our own pretty closely.

    Schola Cantorum Jubilate, Malta

  • In general they may be defined as polyphonic church songs which were to be sung

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 7: Gregory XII-Infallability

  • Before that time vocal music was generally polyphonic, that is, for several voices; and a contrapuntal style of music had been introduced into Italy from the Netherlands, which was so complicated and artificial that the poetic text had no chance whatever of asserting its rights and being understood.

    Chopin and Other Musical Essays

  • The art music of the time was polyphonic, that is, constructed by so interweaving melodies that harmonies resulted.

    For Every Music Lover A Series of Practical Essays on Music

  • The basic problem is that most music is polyphonic - in other words, it's made up of several instruments plus percussion and possibly vocals as well. - Telegraph online, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph

  • This would produce a separate audio output for each string, which can be mixed together, or processed separately for interesting effect (called a polyphonic pickup).

    MAKE Magazine

  • A "space symphony" (a kind of more complex and "polyphonic" space opera) about alternate ways of human civilizations 'and personal evolution; different "energetic civilizations", exploration of many planets in the Galaxy, human's body transformation to the wave form, space battles, adventures and etc.

    MIND MELD: Guide to International SF/F (Part III)

  • Nevertheless, it was Bakhtin who taught us – and Williams reinforces the message in innumerable bits of valuable close reading of the texts – that Dostoevsky is an essentially "polyphonic" writer.

    The Archbishop's Dostoevsky - TLS

  • If there is a lack in Williams's rich book – and it will certainly be enjoyed by a wide audience and stimulate an eager rereading of Dostoevsky – it is not that it fails to refer to Dostoevsky's journalism (there is plenty of ripe reference to A Writer's Diary), but that it does not confront the problem which this journalism presents to the "polyphonic" reading of the novels.

    The Archbishop's Dostoevsky - TLS


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