AskDefine | Define upbeat

Dictionary Definition

upbeat adj : pleasantly (even unrealistically) optimistic [syn: cheerful, pollyannaish]


1 a contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous; "the town was finally on the upbeat after our recent troubles" [syn: wellbeing, well-being, welfare, eudaemonia, eudaimonia] [ant: ill-being]
2 an unaccented beat (especially the last beat of a measure)

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


From up + beat.



  1. Having a fast pace, tempo, or beat.
    The notes are easy, but it's an upbeat tune and should be played fairly quickly.
  2. Having a positive, lively, or perky tone, attitude, etc.
    Though he had bad news, he ended with an upbeat forecast for the future.



Having a fast pace, tempo, or beat
Having a positive, lively, or perky tone, attitude, etc.

Extensive Definition

Upbeat (Ger. Auftakt).
1. An unaccented beat or beats that occur before the first beat of a following measure. Also called anacrusis or pickup. In other words, this is an impulse in a measured rhythm that immediately precedes, and hence anticipates, the downbeat, which is the strongest of such impulses. It can be the last beat in a bar where that bar precedes a new bar of music.
2. An anticipatory note or succession of notes occurring before the first barline of a piece, sometimes referred to as an ‘upbeat figure’, section or phrase. An alternative expression for "upbeat figure" is "anacrusis" (from Greek. ana: "up towards" and krousis: "to strike"; Fr. anacrouse). This term was borrowed from poetry where it refers to one or more unstressed extrametrical syllables at the beginning of a line.
3. The upward stroke made by a conductor to indicate the beat that leads into a new measure.


Beginning of BWV736, with anacrusis in red.



  • J.-J. Momigny: La seule vraie théorie de la musique (Paris, 1821/R)
  • H. Riemann: Musikalische Dynamik und Agogik (Hamburg, 1884)
  • M. Lussy: L’anacrouse dans la musique moderne (Paris, 1903)
  • E. T. Cone: Musical Form and Musical Performance (New York, 1968)
upbeat in Catalan: Anacrusi
upbeat in German: Auftakt
upbeat in Spanish: Anacrusa
upbeat in French: Anacrouse
upbeat in Italian: Anacrusi
upbeat in Japanese: 弱起
upbeat in Dutch: Opmaat
upbeat in Polish: Przedtakt
upbeat in Portuguese: Anacruse
upbeat in Russian: Затакт

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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