Word painting (music)


Hi there,

In English, we have the expression 'word painting' in music where the music is written (or performed) in a particular way to reflect the content of the words. For example:

'First two by two by two, then three by three'

where the first phrase is sung by two parts and then the second is sung by three parts or:

'rise' being sung on an ascending scale.

It can also refer to, for example, the word 'fear' being sung in a fearful, nervous-sounding manner or 'trumpets' being sung in a loud brassy manner.

Is there an equivalent phrase used in music in Italian?

Thanks for your help.
  • GavinW

    Senior Member
    British English
    "As Vesta was..." ! ;-)

    Anyway, it would help other foreros to help you if you include the term ("word painting") in a plausible (or real) sentence. That would make it clear if you/we mean "painting" as a noun, gerund, or present participle, for example. :)


    Ok. Thanks for the feedback.

    So examples might be:

    'I enjoyed the wonderful word painting in that piece of Handel'


    'Word painting is a technique used in vocal music.'

    There's also a fairly fulsome definition on Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_painting

    Any help would be much appreciated!



    New Member
    Hi, I'd translate it with "Figuralismo", just like in spanish, because I've found many sources that talk about this kind of technique using this name


    Senior Member
    english - australia
    This is a practice known in Italian as ‘madrigalismo’ and occasionally referred to as ‘musica visiva’. Monteverdi referred to this method of composition as his ‘seconda pratica’ in which, unlike his ‘prima pratica’, the text dominated the music.
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