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

  • noun Music with two or more independent melodic parts sounded together.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The capability of being pronounced in various ways characterizing some written characters.
  • noun In music, the act, process, art, or result of simultaneously combining two or more voice-parts so that they shall maintain their individuality and independent interest, and yet shall harmonize with each other; counterpoint.

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

  • noun Multiplicity of sounds, as in the reverberations of an echo.
  • noun Plurality of sounds and articulations expressed by the same vocal sign.
  • noun (Mus.) Composition in mutually related, equally important parts which share the melody among them; contrapuntal composition; -- opposed to homophony, in which the melody is given to one part only, the others filling out the harmony. See Counterpoint.

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

  • noun music Musical texture consisting of several independent melodic voices, as opposed to music with just one voice (monophony) or music with one dominant melodic voice accompanied by chords (homophony).

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

  • noun music arranged in parts for several voices or instruments


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From poly- + -phony.


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word polyphony.


  • The term polyphony is sometimes used synonomously with counterpoint, and sometimes to distinguish medeival multi-voice music from that of the Renaissance and Baroque. monophonic, or consisting of only one voice, which was usually a liturgical chant.

    Conservapedia - Recent changes [en]

  • These lessons and the responsories have also been set in polyphony by innumerable musicians and composers; Palestrina, Victoria, and Charpentier are only three among the more outstanding composers who have written for this service.

    Compendium of the 1955 Holy Week Revisions of Pius XII: Part 5 - Tenebrae and the Divine Office of the Triduum

  • The Ordinary of the Mass will be sung in polyphony a capella with the proper of the Mass Introduxit vos in Gregorian.

    Announcement from St. Colman's Society and Your Announcements

  • Polyphonic music can also be called polyphony, counterpoint, or contrapuntal music.

    Archive 2009-05-01

  • Schubert was an ignoramus, even in music; he knew less about polyphony, which is the mother of harmony, which is the mother of music, than the average conservatory professor.

    A Book of Prefaces

  • Besides these three sources measurably unprofessional and outside of music, or amateur, as we say now, there was the work of the professional musicians strictly so-called, who, from about 1100 in the old French school, commenced the development of what is now known as polyphony, which culminated in the hands of the Netherlanders, about 1580, Palestrina himself being one of the latest products of this school.

    A Popular History of the Art of Music From the Earliest Times Until the Present

  • There's always a danger in all strong, erotic love that one may love what I might call the polyphony of life.

    The Scriptorium Daily: Middlebrow

  • Rather than a cacophony, it makes of itself a kind of polyphony, an antiphonal richness, an enjoyment of life and the capacity to sing, every day a kind of celebration.

    Guanajuato's sonic landscape

  • Rather than a cacophony, it makes of itself a kind of polyphony, an antiphonal richness, an enjoyment of life and the capacity to sing, every day a kind of celebration.

    Guanajuato's sonic landscape

  • By means of a generous employment of free counterpoint, in other words a kind of polyphony in which the various voices use different melodies in harmonious combination, he gained a potent auxiliary in his cunning workmanship, and emphasized the folly of rejecting the contrapuntal experiences, of, for instance, a Sebastian Bach.

    For Every Music Lover A Series of Practical Essays on Music


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  • The longest common word using typewriter letters for the right hand. See also homophony.

    --Chris Cole, Wordplay (See comment under "Wordplay List".)

    May 25, 2008