Bel canto with several similar constructions is a term with several meanings that relate to Italian singing. The phrase was not associated with a "school" of singing until the middle of the 19th century when writers in the early 1860s used it nostalgically to describe a manner of singing that had begun to wane around 1830. Nonetheless, "neither musical nor general dictionaries saw fit to attempt definition until after 1900".

The term remains vague and ambiguous in the 21st century and is often used to evoke a lost singing tradition.

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