Definitions

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

  • n. A smooth uninterrupted glide in passing from one tone to another, especially with the voice or a bowed stringed instrument.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A smooth, gliding transition from one note to another; used especially with stringed instruments, and sometimes on brass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. In singing, or in the use of the bow, a gradual carrying or lifting of the voice or sound very smoothly from one note to another; a gliding from tone to tone.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music for the voice or an instrument of the viol family, a gradual change or gliding from one pitch or tone to another without break or perceptible step.

Etymologies

Italian, from portare, to carry, from Latin portāre.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian portamento, from portare ("bear, carry"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Glide The effect of this slider depends on the setting of the Pitcher slider: When Pitcher is centered, Glide determines the time it takes for the pitch to slide from one note to another (called portamento).

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  • Vibrato is controlled and portamento slides are delicately used.

    Brahms: The Complete Violin Sonatas

  • A nonmusical example of portamento would be "up-speak," a verbal tic common in some people under thirty.

    Auto-Tune Goes Legit - Anil Dash

  • With the speed set to zero, unnaturally rapid corrections eliminate portamento, the musical term for the slide between two pitches.

    Auto-Tune Goes Legit - Anil Dash

  • Gulping and distoring vowels and using entirely too much portamento.

    Adam Lambert sings "Ring of Fire."

  • His recordings of concert works like Brahms's Sixth Hungarian Dance and Mendelssohn's "Ruy Blas" overture document the expressive late-19th-century performance style, with its flexible tempos (rubato) and emotional string portamento (sliding between important notes).

    Wax in My Ears: An Online Journey

  • The seven types of aria are: Aria Cantabile; Aria di portamento; Aria di mezzo carattere; Aria parlante; Aria di bravura; Aria di agilita;

    Notes on ''An assiduous frequenter of the Italian opera': Shelley's Prometheus Unbound and the opera buffa'

  • Put the right portamento into the first movement's violin part and you also have a case for the finest fresh oysters.

    Archive 2007-01-01

  • The first section of "Eri tu" is rendered in a splendidly firm, strong-lined legato, the words crystal-clear; it comes to an end with a decrescendo and portamento down from the top F on "guisa," a most expressive turn and acciaccatura on "primo," and a fermata at the end of the phrase.

    Conrad L. Osborne: Best Opera Critic Ever

  • And nobody tried to tell them that they weren't allowed to play Bach on the piano, or with vibrato & portamento on the violin.

    Archive 2004-04-01

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