Definition and background:
The additional but subordinate music used to support a melodic line. In piano music, for example, the left hand often performs chords which serve as an accompaniment for the melody performed by the right hand. Similarly, a solo musician is often accompanied by a piano or an orchestra. Music that goes along with a more important part; often harmony or rhythmic patterns accompanying a melody. a vocal or instrumental part that supports the primary part, or provides background for a soloist
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary