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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.[1] Pieces which are sited as feature 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).[1]

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."[2]

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),[3] also called trope.[4] 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.

Interpolation also refers to the addition of new material in a performance or recording of a previously existing piece of music.[5][6][7][8] It has become generally synonymous with the term "cover version".[9]


  1. ^ a b Wittlich, Gary E. (ed.) (1975). Aspects of Twentieth-century Music, p.48 n.12 and p.49. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-049-346-5.
  2. ^ William E. Caplin, Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, p. 255. ISBN 019514399X.
  3. ^ Farse: Definition with Farse Pictures and Photos. Lexicus - Word Definitions for Puzzlers and Word Lovers.
  4. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Trope. New Advent.
  5. ^ James Montgomery, with additional reporting by Jem Aswad and Steven Roberts. Oct 3 2007 4:18 PM EDT. "Wu-Tang Clan's 'First-Ever Cleared Beatles Sample' Claim Is Incorrect", MTV News.
  6. ^ Oct 1, 2007 12:00 PM, By Jason Scott Alexander. "Beat Redux", Remix Mag.
  7. ^ Is Hip Hop Dead?, Mickey Hess, p.90, Praeger Publishers, 2007. ISBN 0275994619.
  8. ^ Eric Grandy. October 4 at 11:08 AM. Line Out: "The Week in Samples", The Stranger.
  9. ^ John Doran, March 12th, 2009 08:35. "Doves - Kingdom Of Rust. The First Review Of The New Album", The Quietus.

External links

  • WhoSampled - a user-generated database of interpolations and samples in modern music

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