Showing posts with label Derek and the Dominos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Derek and the Dominos. Show all posts

Thursday, August 21, 2008


According to, citing the Columbia Encyclopedia, obbligato is a musical term embodying a contradiction (an antilogy):

(ŏbləgä'tō) [Ital.,=obligatory], in music, originally a term by which a composer indicated that a certain part was indispensable to the music. Obbligato was thus the direct opposite to ad libitum [Lat.,=at will], which indicated that the part so marked was unessential and might be omitted. Misunderstanding of the term obbligato, however, resulted in a reversal of its meaning; when a violin part, for example, is added to a song it is called a violin obbligato, whereas it may be a superfluous ornament for which ad libitum would be a more precise direction.

In other words, obbligato can mean a part is either essential (indispensable) or superfluous (optional). But according to another source, obbligato is a classical musical term for countermelody:

In a piece whose texture consists clearly of a melody with accompaniment (i.e., a homophonic texture): a countermelody is an accompanying part with distinct, though subordinate, melodic interest. If the melodic interest were not subordinate, the texture would be polyphonic: two or more melodies of more or less equal melodic importance.

A notable instance of obbligato:
Procol Harum – A Whiter Shade of Pale (Matthew Fisher, Hammond organ obbligato)

A notable instance of melody/countermelody:
Billie Holiday (vocal, melody), Lester Young (tenor sax, countermelody) – A Sailboat in the Moonlight

A notable instance of polyphony:
Derek and the Dominos – Layla (Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, guitars)