A technique used in music composition to make more melody of something one has already written. The previously composed phrase is rewritten backwards in a sense - Starting from the last note, the phrase is simply flipped. Note duration, articulation, and expression are conserved as the phrase is rewritten.
        _____            ____
       /     \          /    \ -this is a slur
-------------------|--------------------
                   |               
--------------|----|-----|--------------
  0           |    |     |        0
-|-----X------|----|-----|---X---|------
 |    |      X     |    X   |    |
-|----|------------|--------|----|------
      |            |        |
-------------------|--------------------

 f     p                          f

0s are half notes, Xs are quarter notes.

Usually, this technique is applied to a much more complicated phrase. Can sound quite nifty when combined with a sequence or inversion.

Re"tro*grade (?), a. [L. retrogradus, from retrogradi, retrogressus, to retrograde; retro back + gradi to step: cf. F. r'etrograde. See Grade.]

1. Astron.

Apparently moving backward, and contrary to the succession of the signs, that is, from east to west, as a planet.

Hutton.

And if he be in the west side in that condition, then is he retrograde. Chaucer.

2.

Tending or moving backward; having a backward course; contrary; as, a retrograde motion; -- opposed to progressive.

"Progressive and not retrograde."

Bacon.

It is most retrograde to our desire. Shak.

3.

Declining from a better to a worse state; as, a retrograde people; retrograde ideas, morals, etc.

Bacon.

 

© Webster 1913.


Re"tro*grade, v. i. [imp. & p. p. Retrograded (?); p. pr. & vb. n. Retrograding.] [L. retrogradare, retrogradi: cf. F. r'etrograder.]

1.

To go in a retrograde direction; to move, or appear to move, backward, as a planet.

2.

Hence, to decline from a better to a worse condition, as in morals or intelligence.

 

© Webster 1913.

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