A musical figure or figuration is the shortest idea in music, a short succession of notes, often recurring. It may have melodic pitch, harmonic progression and rhythmic . The 1964 Grove's Dictionary defines the figure as "the exact counterpart of the German 'motiv' and the French 'motif'": it produces a "single complete and distinct impression". To Scruton, however, "A figure is distinguished from a motif in that a figure is background while a motif is foreground: "A figure resembles a moulding in architecture: it is 'open at both ends', so as to be endlessly repeatable. In hearing a phrase as a figure, ...

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  1. A drawing or diagram conveying information.
  2. The representation of any form, as by drawing, painting, modelling, carving, embroidering, etc.; especially, a representation of the human body.
    a figure in bronze; a figure cut in marble
  3. A person or thing representing a certain consciousness.
  4. The appearance or impression made by the conduct or career of a person.
    He cut a sorry figure standing there in the rain.
  5. Distinguished appearance; magnificence; conspicuous representation; splendour; show.
  6. A human figure, which dress or corset must fit to; the shape of a human body.
  7. A numeral.
  8. A number.
  9. A shape.
  10. A visible pattern as in wood or cloth.
    The muslin was of a pretty figure.
  11. A dance figure, a complex dance move.
  12. A figure of speech.
  13. The form of a syllogism with respect to the relative position of the middle term.
  14. A horoscope; the diagram of the aspects of the astrological houses.
  15. Any short succession of notes, either as melody or as a group of chords, which produce a single complete and distinct impression.
  16. A form of melody or accompaniment kept up through a strain or passage; a motif; a florid embellishment.


  1. To solve a mathematical problem.
  2. To come to understand.
    I can't figure if he's telling the truth or lying.
  3. To be reasonable.
  4. To enter, be a part of.
  5. To represent by a figure, as to form or mould; to make an image of, either palpable or ideal; also, to fashion into a determinate form; to shape.
  6. To embellish with design; to adorn with figures.
  7. To indicate by numerals.
  8. To represent by a metaphor; to signify or symbolize.
  9. To prefigure; to foreshow.
  10. To write over or under the bass, as figures or other characters, in order to indicate the accompanying chords.
  11. To embellish.

The above text is a snippet from Wiktionary: figure
and as such is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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