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

  • n. A melodic ornament in which a principal tone is rapidly alternated with the tone a half or full step below.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An ornament consisting of a single alternation between a given pitch, and the one immediately below it

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music:


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:

    Mordents & Pralltrillers

  • But most importantly, it acts as a mordent, making the color permanent and a little shiny.

    Jacobo Angeles: A rich wood-carving tradition in Oaxaca, dating to pre-Hispanic times

  • Dum contumelia vacant et festiva lenitate mordent, mediocres animi aegritudines sanari solent, &c. 3498.

    Anatomy of Melancholy

  • The American College Dictionary defines a pralltriller as "an inverted mordent."

    Mordents & Pralltrillers

  • 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."

    Mordents & Pralltrillers

  • 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.

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • 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.

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • 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.

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • 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.

    Music Notation and Terminology

  • 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.

    Music Notation and Terminology


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