If you ever listen to classical music, you’ve probably heard a cantata — a piece of religious music made for voices and instruments.

Johann Sebastian Bach was a famous composer of cantatas. He wrote hundreds, and you’ve probably heard them played at weddings, in a church, at a party thrown by a king (or in car commercials). The word comes from the Italian cantare, which means “sing,” and the singers are the focus of a cantata — whether it’s one person or a whole choir. Cantatas are often based on religious writing, but can be inspired by poetry and literature as well.

Definitions of cantata
  1. noun
    a musical composition for voices and orchestra based on a religious text
    synonyms: oratorio
    see moresee less
    an oratorio composed by Handel in 1742
    type of:
    classical, classical music, serious music
    traditional genre of music conforming to an established form and appealing to critical interest and developed musical taste
Word Family

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