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n. Music
A sustained, smooth-flowing melodic line.

[Italian, from Latin cantilēna, song, from cantus; see canticle.]
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.


(Classical Music) a smooth flowing style in the writing of vocal music
[C18: Italian, from Latin cantilēna a song]
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˌkæn tlˈi nə, -ˈeɪ nə)

n., pl. -nas.
a simple, lyric, melodic passage for voice or instrument.
[1730–40; < Italian < Latin cantilēna refrain, perhaps by dissimilation from *cantilēla, derivative of cantus song; see canto]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
His Cadenzas, Scherzos and Cantilenas, a festival commission, received its premiere exploiting the virtuosity and expressive skills of violinist Alexandra Wood, clarinettist Rozenn Le Trionnaire and cellist Alice Neary.
The scherzo is not crudely straightforward, with its string figures piercing into the listener's ear like neurotic needles, which in the third movement are replaced by tender cantilenas of the strings.
A carefully selected repertoire that combines virtuoso demands, brisk tempi and charming cantilenas (smooth-flowing melodic passages), it explores composers forgotten in the shadow of Antonio Vivaldi.
Ex iuxta posse procuret gaudere, laetari audire cantilenas, ystorias et melodias.
/ You dream about psalms, / cantilenas. / The waters of the Neva / do not reach you.
3207, ASD 2.7:144, 85-86: "Natum ab Ulyssis cera, qua suas ac sociorum aures obturat apud Homenum adversus Sirenarum cantilenas." For Shakespeare's use of Erasmus's Adagia see Baldwin, 2:342-49.
Archly-patterned string figurations underpinned wind cantilenas in ticking textures perfectly proportioned to the piece's length.
He urges the comparison of other liturgically ambiguous pieces, notably carols, conductus, motets and cantilenas, and by implication, study of the popular practices associated with particular feast days, such as liturgical dramas or processions.
She is again slightly different, but it is still her - splendidly declaiming, vaulting cantilenas, and with a poignancy in her voice, instantly recognisable.
The SACD opens with Dvorak's Sonatina, which sounds graceful, not only in the second movement, Larghetto, whose broad cantilenas perhaps come across with the cello even more poignantly than in the original violin version.