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

  • n. Music An interval equal to a half tone in the standard diatonic scale. Also called half step, halftone.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. (UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand) The musical interval equal (exactly or approximately) to half a tone or one-twelfth of an octave
  • n. (UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand) Any of the pitches of the chromatic scale

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Half a tone; -- the name commonly applied to the smaller intervals of the diatonic scale.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In music, an interval approximately equal to half of a tone; a minor second; a half-step.

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

  • n. the musical interval between adjacent keys on a keyboard instrument


Sorry, no etymologies found.


  • Because the music has been made "bitonal" by moving the accompanying piano part up two semitones (a semitone is the difference between a "natural" note and a sharp or flat).

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  • The revolutionary sound is based on a system comprised of smaller divisions than a semitone.

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  • This possibility, whether or not avoiding a sense of tonic in either scale, is facilitated by the fact that all of the omitted tones in WT collection 1 are (naturally) 1 semitone from 2 tones in WT 2 (one above and one below), thus providing the possibility of the feeling or motivation of the half-step "pull".

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  • Not that there's any lack of huge, cavernous sound, and sound-effect; endless very slow, melody-free crescendos and diminuendos, uncanny thuds and knocks in the music's far distance, drones and whines and very-long-held notes that go up a semitone, stay there for a long time, and then slide back down again.

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  • But the lead vocalist has a grating, moaning, warbly-uncertain sort of voice, and he's not helped in his self-appointed task by the fact that whenever the melody line goes up, particularly if it leaps a sizeable interval, he slips sometimes as much as a semitone off key.

    Vernian Process, Behold The Machine (2009)

  • Many cultures have different choices for semitone relative differences, though.

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  • Among its basic elements are frequent melismatic passages, heavy use of the augmented second, melodic ornamentations and embellishments within the quarter tone and semitone, and instrumental accompaniment generally using electronic instruments (synthesizers) together with electric guitar, bass guitar and percussion instruments.

    Hebrew Song, 1880-2000.

  • One would think theyd realize, she said, voice rising a semitone, that only the fortunate have a right to concern themselves with ambition.

    Kate Morton Ebook Collection

  • Incidentally, Paul McCartney is the only musician ever to become successful without realizing that the interval of a semitone is discordant:

    About that famous guitar chord.

  • The doctor paid, mama laid down, with a semitone bouncing all around

    A reincarnation of Vishnu...


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