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Aria

From Academic Kids

This article is about the musical term "aria." For other meanings or uses of the word, see Aria (disambiguation).

An aria (Italian for air; plural: arie or arias in common usage) in music was originally any expressive melody, usually, but not always, performed by a singer. It is now used almost exclusively to describe a self contained piece for one voice usually with orchestral accompaniment. Perhaps the most common context for arias is opera; there are also many arias that form movements of oratorios and cantatas. Composers also wrote "concert arias", not part of any larger work, such as "Ah Perfido" by Beethoven and a number of concert arias by Mozart.

The aria first appeared in the 14th century. In that time, it signified a manner or style of singer or plating. Aria could also mean a melodic scheme (motif) or pattern for singing a poetic pattern, such as a sonnet. It was also attached to instrumental music, though this is no longer the case. Over time, arias evolved from simple melodies into a structured form; in about 17th century, the aria was written in ternary form (ABA); these arias were known as da capo arias. The aria later "invaded" the opera repertoire with its many sub-species (Aria cantabile, Aria agitata, Aria di bravura, and so on). By the mid-19th century, many operas became a sequence of arias, reducing the space left for recitative, while other operas (for instance those by Wagner) were entirely through-composed, with no section being readily identifiable as a self-contained aria.

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