In this sentence:

She began to sing, in an undertone, but as she heard the sounds come clear and pure she let herself go.

What is “in an undertone”?

I mean, can this whole construction “in an undertone” be an adverb of manner: She began to sing how? - in an undertone. Is it some kind of composite adverb, or maybe something else?

  • Undertone is a noun. A subdued or muted tone of sound or colour. – Joe Dark Nov 4 '15 at 0:22

It's a prepositional phrase (also known as preposition phrase) because it's headed by a preposition (i.e., "in" of "in an undertone").

You can consider it an adverbial or an adverbial phrase, functioning as an adverbial of manner (you've identified the "of manner" part correctly).

You can follow the links I included above to find more details about these terms.

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