Phrase (music)

A phrase (Greek φράση phrase " set ", " expression ", " the phrase", see verse ) is in the musical theory of composition a little sense and classification unit that is often composed of several motifs. Several phrases in turn can create a so-called period or a set form.


The phrase is derived from a former Nebenform (now the main form ) of the ancient Greek word φράσις " the speech ," the related " term" and is connected to the notion of phrase from linguistics. As there they called a self-contained figure that is usually part of a larger (musical) structure. The fact that the term outside the musical context in English and French "sentence" can be misleading, since the term has set in the musical form of teaching a different meaning.


According to an ancient and simple definition is a phrase from so much music, as can be sung in one breath.

The New Grove: "A term adopted from linguistic syntax and used for short musical units of various lengths; a phrase is generally regarded as longer than a motif but shorter than a period " ( " A term that has been adopted from linguistics and is used for short musical units of different length. A phrase is usually longer than one subject, but shorter than one period. " )

Stone, 1962: " phrase is one of the most controversial terms in the Music: Aside from the fact that he units can be used for two-bar as well as eight-bar (or even larger), it is often used incorrectly to subdivisions several or individual phrases to call. "