Definition and background:
A short, recurring instrumental passage in Baroque aria and concerti, particularly in a tutti section. A recurring passage for orchestra in the first or final movement of a solo concerto or aria (also in works for chorus). A recurrent phrase or passage, is a feature of baroque form, where an aria may be punctuated by re-appearances of a short instrumental phrase. It became a frequent element in baroque solo concertos by composers such as Vivaldi, and works with operatic connotations
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary