American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A melodic ornament in which a principal tone is rapidly alternated with the tone a half or full step below.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In music: A melodic embellishment, not so frequent now as formerly, consisting of a rapid alternation of a principal tone with a tone a half-step below it. It is single or short when the by-tone is used but once; otherwise double or long. The signs for the single and double mordents are
and respectively. When the supplementary tone needs to be chromatically altered, a ♮, ♭, or ♮ is added below the sign.
- German, from Italian mordente, from mordere, to bite, from Vulgar Latin *mordere, from Latin mordēre; see mer- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Editors 'Note: In reply to a letter from Sol Babitz in the November 5 issue of the NYR ” in which, owing to an editorial slip, the word "mordent" was misspelled ” Stanley Kauffmann writes:”
“But most importantly, it acts as a mordent, making the color permanent and a little shiny.”
“Dum contumelia vacant et festiva lenitate mordent, mediocres animi aegritudines sanari solent, &c. 3498.”
“The American College Dictionary defines a pralltriller as "an inverted mordent.”
“A New Dictionary of Music by Arthur Jacobs says: "These two [ornaments] are sometimes called respectively inverted mordent and just mordent; and in German Mordent means only the second, the first being called Pralltriller.”
“In the case of both mordent and double-mordent the tones are sounded as quickly as possible, the time taken by the embellishment being subtracted from the value of the principal note as printed.”
“When the sign ([turn symbol] or [fancy turn symbol]) occurs over a note of small value in rapid tempo (Fig. 45) the turn consists of four tones of equal value; but if it occurs over a note of greater value, or in a slow tempo, the tones are usually played quickly (like the mordent), and the fourth tone is then held until the time-value of the note has expired.”
“The _mordent_ [mordent symbol] consists of three tones; first the one represented by the printed note; second the one next below it in the diatonic scale; third the one represented by the printed note again.”
“The _inverted mordent_ [inverted mordent symbol] (note the absence of the vertical line) is like the mordent except that the tone below is replaced by the tone above in each case.”
“The _double (or long) mordent_ has five tones (sometimes seven) instead of three, the first two of the three tones of the regular mordent being repeated once or more.”
These user-created lists contain the word ‘mordent’.
Thanks to everyone who added to this list. (I moved it to a new URL, so all the words added on the first day are credited to me—sorry about that.)
(Here’s the original list with a slo...
"Luciferous Logolepsy is a collection of over 9,000 obscure English words. Though the definition of an 'English' word might seem to be straightforward, it is not. There exist so many adopted, deriv...
Commonly Confused Words
Various terms, common and uncommon, relating to musical scores.
Words of the day. :)
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