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.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
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
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
After extensive training with solfeggi (accompanied vocal exercises that offered students their first encounters with twopart counterpoint), students at La Pieta completed written contrapuntal exercises, many of which emphasized adding (often invertible) voices above and below scales and cantus firmi in the successive Fuxian species.
Whereas tenor cantus firmi are usually presented in long notes, in this case the cantus firmus is fully integrated into the polyphonic texture, i.e.
throughout), the presentation of cantus firmi in long note-values (especially in 'Caeleste beneficium'), the use of alternating introductory duos involving partial or complete restatements of two-voice complexes (a typical Busnoysian feature later adopted by Obrecht), numerous idiomatic turns and phrases that were common stock in late fifteenth-century sacred music - as well as the composer's evident innocence of pervading imitation and a voce piena texture.
The edition prefaces each work with an editorial commentary that includes easy-to-read critical notes, plainsong cantus firmi, and an individual discussion of text setting.
We are also given translations of the motet texts, and a tabulated presentation of the cantus firmi used by Carver.
Not the least interesting part of this essay is the recounting of the gruesome martyrdom of saints such as St Catherine of Alexandria, St Margaret of Antioch and St Stephen, and the procedures applied to their ostinato cantus firmi by Compere and Clemens non Papa to represent these tortures.
Indeed there are quite a few cases of secular cantus firmi or even of short citations within a mass movement or section for which a Christian allegory or even anagogical reading might seem a bit forced, if not wishful.
In addition there are seven fragmentary works (appendix 1); seven other pieces not for keyboard but found in the keyboard sources or else relevant in some way to keyboard works found elsewhere in the volume; reconstructions of models intabulated in section D; and plainsong cantus firmi utilized in section A.