Interpolation (music)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Interpolation in music refers to an abrupt change in musical elements from the main theme.

In classical music

In music and musical composition, especially 20th century and later, interpolation is an abrupt change of elements, with (almost immediate) continuation of the first idea. Pieces which are cited as featuring interpolation, among other techniques, are Music for Brass Quintet by Gunther Schuller and Threnody: To the Victims of Hiroshima by Krzysztof Penderecki, both (1960–61).

For music of the Classical period, interpolation is defined in the context of a musical sentence or period as, "unrelated material inserted between two logically succeeding functions."

This device is commonly used to extend what would normally be a regular phrase into an irregular and extended phrase. Such expansion by interpolation is achieved by the addition of extra music in the middle of a phrase (commonly through the use of sequence). A clear example exists in the second movement of Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 10, K.330.

Formerly, in the sung portions of the Mass, such as the introit or kyrie, it was permissible, especially during the medieval period, to amplify a liturgical formula by interpolating a farse (from Medieval Latin farsa, forcemeat), also called trope. This might consist of an explanatory phrase or verse, usually in the form of an addition or paraphrase, often in the vulgar language.

In the classical suite, consisting strictly of the allemande, courante, saraband and gigue, composers often interpolated a gavotte, bourrée, minuet, musette or passepied.

In modern music

Interpolation also refers to the addition of new material in a performance or recording of a previously existing piece of music. It has become generally synonymous with the term "cover version".

In rap music

In rap music, interpolation refers to using a melody - or portions of a melody (often with modified lyrics) - from a previously recorded song, but replaying the melody instead of sampling it.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Interpolation (music)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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