A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Attacco
ATTACCO (Verbal substantive, from attacare, to unite, to bind together). A short phrase, treated as a Point of Imitation; and employed, either as the Subject of a Fugue, as a subordinate element introduced for the purpose of increasing the interest of its development, as a leading feature in a Motet, Madrigal, Full Anthem, or other Choral Composition, or as a means of relieving the monotony of an otherwise too homogeneous Part-Song.
A striking instance of its employment as the Subject of a Fugue will be found in No. xxvii. of Das Wohltemperirte Clavier.
When used merely as an accessory, it almost always represents a fragment of the true Subject; as in 'Ye House of Gilead,' from Handel's 'Jephthah.'
In the Madrigal, and Motet, a new Attacco is usually introduced with each new paragraph of the verbal text; in the Glee, properly so called, the part played by the Attacco is less important; while in the Part-Songs, its appearance as a prominent feature is still less frequent. Exception to the rule will, however, be found in Dr. Callcott's 'Go, plaintive Breeze,' in Mendelssohn's 'Türkisches Schenkenlied,' 'Setze mir nicht, du Grobian,' and in other well-known modern compostions. [See Andamento and Soggetto in Appendix.]
[ W. S. R. ]