cantus firmus

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can·tus fir·mus

 (kăn′təs fîr′məs, fûr′-)
A preexisting melody used as the basis of a polyphonic composition, especially in polyphony of the 1300s and 1400s.

[Medieval Latin : Latin cantus, song + Latin firmus, fixed.]

can•tus fir•mus

(ˈkæn təs ˈfɜr məs)
n., pl. cantus firmus.
2. a fixed melody to which other voices are added, typically in polyphonic treatment.
[1840–50; < Medieval Latin: literally, firm song]
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.cantus firmus - a melody used as the basis for a polyphonic composition
Gregorian chant, plainchant, plainsong - a liturgical chant of the Roman Catholic Church
References in periodicals archive ?
The reworkings of De tous biens plaine illustrate the overwhelming popularity of a conservative cantus-firmus technique focused on the added voices, which Cyrus relates to Brown's "scholastic glossing on authority" (p.
The older aesthetic of the wall of sound' disappears completely: cantus-firmus based passages in full scoring tend to move at varying rates of rhythmic and harmonic activity, ranging from drawn-out homophonic passages, usually at key phrases of the mass text, to stretches of almost frenzied contrapuntal activity.
At any rate, these Latin duos are at times musically rather more complex (using both cantus-firmus technique and extended imitative writing) than the sort of didactic duos familiar to students of the musical Renaissance in German-speaking territories.