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Popular Culture[edit]

I think this article has the xkcd effect. —Preceding unsigned comment added by NemethE (talkcontribs) 13:12, 6 January 2009 (UTC)

Removed:Chad Twedt[edit]

I remove the following from the list of examples:

  • "The clearest musical examples of the ostinato would be various compositions of Chad Twedt (i.e. Ostinato Suite No. 1 and No. 2), which include large-scale piano works that exclusively and thoroughly explore the ostinato technique in tonal settings."

Twedt's compositions may be the clearest examples, but they are not the most notable (though he is real [1]). Hyacinth 12:43, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Removed: Origin[edit]

I removed the following:

  • "As we presume that theatre was invented in Ancient Greece by the time an actor segregated from the chorus and started a dialogue with it, the technique of improvising over an ostinato is to have its origins in the folk music of different cultures. This way of creating a basic polyphony proves to be less difficult than other techniques and, consequently, it is more likely to catch the interest and be practiced in small communities."

As it doesn't make sense and lacks sources. Hyacinth 12:49, 17 February 2006 (UTC)

Further reading[edit]

  • Hodeir, André (1956). Jazz, its evolution and esence. ISBN 0394175255.
  • Popp, Marius (1998). Applicatory Harmony in Jazz, Pop & Rock Improvisation. ISBN 9735692287.

Is there a specific part of these books readers may be referred to for information about ostinatos? Hyacinth 08:37, 3 March 2006 (UTC)

You've probably seen I've given up the André Hodeir reference. That is because what lies written in the History section owes very little to his book at this point. I am planning to expand it, so you might meet the link again on the article page.
As for the Marius Popp reference, please renounce taking it to a Further reading section. I used it as a reference for the History section in this article. Rather, you could help by adding somewhere that information found in the Introductive Chapter was used only - just that I'm not sure where it would be better to write so. It is a little obvious that your experience in Wiki is richer than mine, so we'd better discuss before this article will turn into a continuos switch between two variants, mine and yours. Maybe we're both right, but this fact sometimes lacks arguments.
Another thing about Marius Popp, having in mind that he's less known than other jazz theorists: his book is perfectly reliable and very ingeniously written. Also, he is considered to be the most important Romanian jazzman alive - he plays the piano. I'll try to start an article about him. Impy4ever 10:10, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Are you Romanian? I ask because I am unable to verify the book by Mihai Berindei, who is also Romanian. Do you have an ISBN for it? Hyacinth 09:41, 5 April 2006 (UTC)

Yes, we both are Romanian. Unfortunately, there is no ISBN or equivalent identifier for any book published in Romania before 1990; I guess this was in order not to permit "cultural exchanges" between Romanian writers and those abroad. Yet, I tell you this is another trustworthy source. The only link to prove the book's existance I have found lies at BiblioPhil and what is less favorable about - it is written in Romanian.
Do you think that including in a new Wiki article the bibliography Berindei used would be a good idea? I'll insist a little with the books I've mentioned here, because they are really useful. Also, I guess this dictionary would be hard to get in a country a little farther from Romania's neighbours. Impy4ever 04:54, 6 April 2006 (UTC)


  • "An ostinato is any clearly defined melodic or rhythmic pattern that is repeated persistently. In jazz, ostinato patterns may be of various lengths and are generally found in the bass line. (Do not confuse ostinato with vamp, which refers to a short repeated chord progression, often serving as the introduction to a performance.)." (p.132)
    • Rawlins, Robert (2005). Jazzology: The Encyclopedia of Jazz Theory for All Musicians. ISBN 0634086782.
  • "Ostinato Motive or phrase that is repeated persistently at the same pitch, used in twentieth-century music to stabilize a group of pitches. Example Stravinsky, The Rite of Spring, 'Introduction' and 'Omens of Spring'". (p.611)


Should it be "Reference" since there is only one? Hyacinth 08:22, 4 March 2006 (UTC)

No. More will come--Light current 01:01, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
Okay, until you build this Field of Dreams, should it be "Reference"? Hyacinth 09:57, 3 April 2006 (UTC)
It happened quickly enough after all. Hyacinth 22:05, 6 April 2006 (UTC)


What about the riff in 'Street where you live' by Stan Kenton? Is that an ostinato or a riff? Sounds pretty damn obstinate to me- going quite forcefully against the melody!--Light current 23:43, 2 April 2006 (UTC)

If it is repeated at the same pitch, then it is an ostinato. More generally, it would appear that ostinatos are riffs. Hyacinth 09:59, 3 April 2006 (UTC)

Riff is explained / defined as a "relaxed . . .." What does relaxed mean? Apparently it's a technical term even though it is not linked, since for a lay person the usual sensw of the word conveys no content. (talk) 21:34, 11 December 2015 (UTC)

"Planet Caravan"[edit]

I readded "Planet Caravan" as I don't think its that obscure. Hyacinth 20:19, 6 April 2006 (UTC)

Lead paragraph of article is too much[edit]

Fellow editors: I believe that the lead section of this article is just too much.

First, the lead section is overly complicated and complex and tries to do too much, even to the point of getting into a discussion of homophonic and contrapuntal textures. The lead paragraph(s) of an article should be like the lead paragraph(s) of a newspaper article: it should summarize the basics.

Second, there are nine footnotes in the lead section -- too many in my opinion. While it's great to footnote, all of the little footnote numbers lead to a choppy-looking article.

My 2¢, Oscar 03:38, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

Film music[edit]

Are we really going to class film music as popular rather than classical?

Ground bass[edit]

Surely there should be a separate article on ground bass. Including it under "ostinato" does not do it justice. And there is no mention at all of one of the greatest examples, the last movement of Brahms' fourth symphony. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:42, 18 January 2008 (UTC)

Agreed. Though I've read (and edited) this article before, today I wound up here because I was looking for "ground bass". Alan W. Pollack refers to it significantly in his analysis of "Hey Jude", and I wanted to understand what he was getting at. In his various Beatles analyses and he has referred to "ostinato" repeatedly -- he's obviously talking about two different musical elements, and he's a musicologist of some sort, so there.
-- (talk) 15:37, 16 June 2008 (UTC)

Removed Trivia box[edit]

The "Famous Examples" section was marked (just last month) with one of those warning boxes against trivia sections. I don't agree that examples are trivia, and I believe the examples are a crucial part of making the subject of the article understood.

Having said that, the examples section could use some work.
-- (talk) 23:27, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Some historical uses[edit]

I'm not crazy about the line "mainly the surviving records prove that early jazz music used a technique similar to ostinato"

... I think its an oxymoron —Preceding unsigned comment added by Patfada (talkcontribs) 10:08, 22 June 2009 (UTC)

Pappa was a Rolling Stone by the Temptations[edit]

Seems to me that the ostinato played by the what sounds to me like a bass guitar, consists of 6 notes, not three notes. And 3 different pitches. 7th, (up to) tonic, min 3rd, min 3rd, (down to) 7th, tonic. For example in the key of A minor, G A C C G A --Nomenclator (talk) 13:23, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

"Black Dog" riff[edit]

I removed the Led Zeppelin song "Black Dog" from the list of "well-known" riffs because it was uncited. When a reference was I added I removed it again because the reference didn't describe it as generally well-known, or "crucial, influential and groundbreaking," in general. It did however describe it as crucial to understanding specifically why Led Zeppelin kick ass. Hyacinth (talk) 12:08, 28 February 2010 (UTC)

Other Language[edit]

Take a look at the article's language's least - the language are retuen aboue therselves twice' and ewen more... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:47, 5 May 2010 (UTC)

Vocal Riffing[edit]

This is unrelated to the ostinato meaning of this word, but there is no page for the verb 'to riff' as applied to its use in Musical Theatre, R&B, etc. The only other place I would put it is as a cross-reference to 'Melisma', or 'Cadenza' for the relationship to classical music, but am unsure whether this fits into the definition here:

"The etymology of the term is not clearly known. Some sources explain riff as an abbreviation for "rhythmic figure" or "refrain" [10]. Use of the term has also misleadingly been extended to comedy where riffing is used to mean the verbal exploration of a particular subject, thus moving the meaning away from the original jazz sense of a repeated figure over which the soloist improvises, to instead indicate the improvisation itself: that is, improvising on a melody or progression as one would improvise on a subject by extending a singular thought, idea or inspiration into a bit, or routine."

In any case, this description implies that the development of a particular idea is unique to comedy, not as a vocal decoration. There's room to write this, but am unsure where it should be placed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by TobyHine (talkcontribs) 14:43, 21 May 2010 (UTC)

Removed - Notable examples: Classical & Popular[edit]

  • Basso continuo part from Pachelbel's Canon in D
  • Military 5/4 rhythm in Gustav Holst's "Mars" from The Planets
  • Ostinato in the Confutatis movement of Mozart's Requiem
  • Rossini's overtures make frequent use of ostinato during the crescendos.
  • Holst's St. Paul's Suite Mvt. II (in which the divisi second violins play a repeating pattern of eighth notes)
  • Rhythmic pattern in Ravel's Boléro
  • The second section of Shostakovich's 7th Symphony, Mvt. I (called the "inexorable march", or "an unstoppable machine," and darkly symbolizing the German Army's advance on Russia)
  • Harmonic pattern in Chopin's Berceuse
  • In Anton Arensky's Orchestral Suite No.1 in G minor (Op. 7), the Basso Ostinato theme introduced with low brass and contrabasses convey the Theme Russe very elegantly.
  • Wagner's Das Rheingold features prominent ostinatos on the "anvil" leitmotif in its third and fourth scenes, which build to inexorable climaxes.
  • Bizet's Carillon from L'Arlesienne is a good example as he mimicks the playing of village church bells being played he repeats the notes G#, E and F# 98 times with a nice melody playing over them.
  • Ostinato - a composition for six violoncelli written in 1987 by Lorenzo Ferrero.
  • Alexander Mosolov's Iron Foundry is entirely built on ostinato.
  • Basso ostinato by Rodion Shchedrin, contained in his Polyphonic Notebook, twenty-five preludes (1972).
  • A good example of ostinato in popular music can be heard on "Day Tripper" by The Beatles. The opening 11-note motif is heard consistently throughout the majority of the track in a number of different keys to fit the song.
  • Danny Elfman's theme for Men in Black, based on Patrice Rushen's song "Forget Me Nots", is an ostinato on bass guitar.
  • The Temptations' recording of "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" is essentially 11 minutes and 45 seconds of ostinato, built on a 4-bar pattern. The 3-note bass line is essentially unchanged throughout.
  • Another example for understanding the procedure is the famous tune from ABBA, "Take a Chance on Me". In its video, we can see each of the four members in a different corner of the screen; during the verses, Benny and Björn sing repeatedly "take a chance, take a chance, take a, take a chan-chance", while Agnetha and Frida sing the lyrics.
  • American drummer Terry Bozzio has made extensive use of the ostinato as a drumset technique. Many examples can be heard on his instructional videos Melodic Drumming and the Ostinato Vol. I, II, and III, as well as his CDs Solo Drum Music Vol. I and II.
  • "Stupidly Happy" from XTC's Wasp Star (Apple Venus Volume 2) offers a variety of melodic excursions over an ostinato guitar riff which elaborates only a tiny bit over the course of the song.
  • "The Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin features a bass and guitar ostinato on an F# octave throughout the song.
  • Many third-wave ska songs utilize an ostinato as a brass melody.

I removed the above as uncited. Hyacinth (talk) 04:38, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

Removed: List of well known riffs[edit]

I removed the above as uncited. Hyacinth (talk) 22:22, 18 August 2012 (UTC)


Ostinato#Electronic music says "see Tangerine Dream's [[Tangerine Dream (album)|Phaedra]]". But Tangerine Dream (album) and Phaedra (album) (which includes the song "Phaedra") are apparently two different albums. So which album did you mean, and why pipe one album to a different album? Art LaPella (talk) 14:42, 16 March 2011 (UTC)

-- the link is wrong. Pheadra is an album, Tangerine Dream is a legendary krautrock band. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:46, 23 November 2011 (UTC)

Difference between riff, vamp and ostinato?[edit]

I'm still confused as to the difference between riff, vamp and ostinato. The article suggests repeatedly that the only difference is the musical style – riffs being ostinato figures used in rock music, vamps being ostinato figures in jazz – but then, it talks about riffs in jazz and classical music, vamps in rock music, and ostinati in jazz, seemingly contradicting the assertion that they are all the same thing and that the only difference is the context, i. e., the musical style. The caption for one of the illustrations even uses the phrase "vamp riff"! So, is there any additional difference between a riff, a vamp and an ostinato, and if, what exactly are the differences and are there any precise definitions that clarify them?

Also, the section "Use in jazz and R&B" starts to use/mention the term lick totally out of the blue, which is rather awkward. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 02:20, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

Seriously, sometimes I have to look up the names of 80s hits I already know[edit]

It seems ridiculous to have 10 examples of riff-driven songs from the penultimate quarter century and none from the last one. Everyone knows that music didn't exist before the 90s. Sagittarian Milky Way (talk) 18:53, 23 May 2014 (UTC)

External links modified[edit]

Hello fellow Wikipedians,

I have just added archive links to one external link on Ostinato. Please take a moment to review my edit. If necessary, add {{cbignore}} after the link to keep me from modifying it. Alternatively, you can add {{nobots|deny=InternetArchiveBot}} to keep me off the page altogether. I made the following changes:

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Question? Archived sources still need to be checked

Cheers. —cyberbot IITalk to my owner:Online 01:49, 17 October 2015 (UTC)