Definitions

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

  • n. A solo vocal piece with instrumental accompaniment, as in an opera.
  • n. An air; a melody.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A musical piece written typically for a solo voice with orchestral accompaniment in an opera or cantata.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An air or song; a melody; a tune.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music: A rhythmical and metrical melody or tune for a single voice (rarely for a monophonous instrument), having a vocal or instrumental accompaniment: distinguished from a song by being less simple and less purely lyrical. The aria grande is the next most elaborate species of solo vocal music to the scena (which see).
  • n. A distinct form of solo vocal music, distinguished by a clear division into three parts, namely, a principal section, a subordinate section, and a repetition, with or without alterations, of the first section: otherwise known as the da capo form.
  • n. A solo movement, whether in strict aria form or not, in an extended vocal work, like an opera or an oratorio: as, the soprano aria “I know that my Redeemer liveth.”
  • n. Special varieties of movement or style are indicated by adding various terms: as, aria cantabile, an aria in a flowing, connected style, with but slight accompaniment; aria concertato, an aria of large dimensions, with an elaborate or concerted accompaniment; aria parlante, an aria in which the dramatic delivery of the text is conspicuous; aria di bravura or d'agilita, an aria in which special opportunity is given for vocal display through rapid passages and figures, trills and other embellishments, extreme notes, and the like; aria d'imitazione, an aria in which the music recalls some physical sound like the song of birds, the noises of battle, etc.

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

  • n. an elaborate song for solo voice

Etymologies

Italian, from Latin āera, accusative of āēr, air, from Greek āēr; see wer-1 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Italian aria, metathesis from Latin aerem, accusative of āēr, from Ancient Greek ἀήρ (aēr, "air"). Cognate to air. (Wiktionary)

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