Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adv. In a smooth, lyrical, flowing style. Used chiefly as a direction.
  • n. A cantabile passage or movement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A tempo mark directing that a passage is to be played in a lyrical manner
  • n. A passage having this mark
  • adv. played in this style; singingly, lyrically
  • adj. describing a passage having this mark; singable, lyrical

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. In a melodious, flowing style; in a singing style, as opposed to bravura, recitativo, or parlando.
  • n. A piece or passage, whether vocal or instrumental, peculiarly adapted to singing; -- sometimes called cantilena.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In music, executed in the style of a song; flowing; sustained: lyrical.
  • n. A piece or passage of music in a flowing, song-like style.

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

  • adj. smooth and flowing

Etymologies

Italian, from Late Latin cantābilis, worthy to be sung, from Latin cantāre, to sing; see kan- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian cantabile ("singable", "capable being sung"), derived from cantare ("to sing"). See also Latin cantabilis ("worthy to be sung"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • As Joplin famously noted of all his compositions, "It is never right to play 'ragtime' fast," while his concert waltz "Bethena" adds the direction "cantabile" - "as if singing."

    NPR Topics: News

  • Some of these arias were written in a virtuoso style, with rich vocal lines and complex instrumental accompaniment; others were cantabile, meaning simpler in style and intended mainly to highlight the feelings or thoughts of a character, with little ornamentation and the instrumentation kept in the background.

    Epinions Recent Content for Home

  • As all of you who watch this show should know, "cantabile" means "in a singing style," and that is exactly what the first eight bars of this piece sound like.

    Riuva : Research Institute for Unicultural Visual Arts

  • He contrived a thrilling balance between cantabile and cutting edge, with a daring line in tiny pianissimos.

    The Turn of the Screw; BBC Proms 32, 35, 36 – review

  • The Kungsbacka Trio are embarking on a series, and this first volume includes the famous "Gypsy Rondo", dispatched with mirth, and some lovely movements such as the serene Allegro, ma dolce of the D major trio and the more severe Andante cantabile of the E flat minor trio; in the F sharp minor trio there's a version of a movement from his Symphony No 102.

    Haydn: Piano Trios Vol 1, Nos 24, 25, 26, 31 – review

  • It is a sorry fact of today's opera world that homogenized loudness is often valued above individualized refinement, yet Mr. Calleja's plangent cantabile phrasing, in which each note is connected in a seamless golden line, recalls the old masters like Gigli whose voice his most resembles and more recent exponents of exquisite vocal art, like Carlo Bergonzi and the late Alain Vanzo.

    Here to Deal With the Devil

  • In addition to the smooth transitions between both the divergent, heterophonically-interwoven tunes and between tonal, modal and atonal pivots of the different sections, Olivero also presents a rhythmic dichotomy, between slow-paced, rhythmically flexible cantabile sections and harshly syncopated, rhythmic intersecting phrases.

    Betty Olivero.

  • But the cantabile ideal fell afoul of early recording technology, which was too insensitive to capture its delicate beauty.

    What Music Has Lost

  • The performers of the Golden Age, Mr. Hamilton explains, cultivated a cantabile or "singing" tone, modeled after the leading singers of the early 19th century.

    What Music Has Lost

  • Yup, then i watched nodame cantabile on my bro's com.

    yanxious Diary Entry

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Comments

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  • true enough xD

    October 10, 2007

  • I love it when vocalists are given the direction "cantabile". The composers are basically saying, "sing it as if you were singing." XD

    September 8, 2007