Definition of motet in English:


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  • A short piece of sacred choral music, typically polyphonic and unaccompanied.

    ‘Two short sacred motets (one a solo and the other a duet) by this same composer fill out the program.’
    • ‘Brahms finished off his sacred choral music with the Op. 110 motets, another trilogy.’
    • ‘The Kendal South programme, directed by Hugh Davies, features Mozart's much loved Requiem, Bruckner motets and an orchestral work, Mozart's Violin Concerto no 3 in G.’
    • ‘These five-part sacred motets were published in 1612 with a dedication to the Virgin Mary.’
    • ‘But what exactly can be said about the ‘new autonomy’ of Beethoven's late quartets that could not apply to the best isorhythmic motets?’
    • ‘Director Paul Gameson will conduct a 7.30 pm programme of Christmas music by Charpentier, honouring the Virgin Mary in a selection of carols, motets and dramatic oratorios.’
    • ‘This recording is the first of two devoted to Wood, so it includes known and virtually unknown anthems and motets.’
    • ‘Conducted by Harry Christophers, the choir will perform motets, anthems and religious songs by the 17th century English composers Robert Ramsey and Henry Purcell.’
    • ‘It is no coincidence that the paintings of Kandinsky and his modernist colleagues, especially the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock, send me into the same kind of reverie as an eight-part motet by Byrd.’
    • ‘And here another question remains unanswered: was a grand motet sung on ordinary Sundays?’
    • ‘The purpose of the grand motet sung that day cannot be clearer.’
    • ‘In Mary's reign, England was exposed to the potent artistry of Flemish and Spanish music, while the seminal influence of Italy was always present in the shape of Palestrina's motets and the works of the Florentine madrigalists.’
    • ‘For variety (I suppose), the Hilliard Ensemble has inserted unrelated motets between several movements of the Mass.’
    • ‘Few of these motets (pieces for multiple vocal parts) are more than 2 minutes long.’
    song, anthem, carol, ballad, canzone, chanson, motet, chant



/mōˈtet/ /moʊˈtɛt/


Late Middle English from Old French, diminutive of mot ‘word’.