"(music, preferable to motif): a figure, group of figures, or a phrase which has significance or is otherwise characteristic of a section, phrase, sentence or period. During the succession of the latter,a motive recurs, varierd or unvaried, and therefore can give the whole succession - song - a cyclic impression (Sotavalta).
Armstrong uses teh term to describe the acoustic individuality of one, or perhaps two or more phrases. Thorpe uses it but little.
The differences are of degree, and not substantial at that." 
- . Glossarial Index. In: Acoustic Behavior of Animals. Acoustic Behavior of Animals. Elsevier; 1963.
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