cantus firmus

  1. a pre-existing melody used as the basis for a polyphonic composition; originally drawn from plainchant, but later drawn from other sources
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How To Use cantus firmus In A Sentence

  • The first note, F, sung by the tenor in bars 1 and 2, in this instance personifying the final note of the chanson's tenor, prefigures the opening F of the cantus firmus in bar 15 of the Credo.
  • Thus we may compare to orators those composers who ordinarily take the cantus firmus or subject from others and, weaving over it an artful counter - point, draw various melodic lines from it, which often have something dry or labored, in that they lack a certain grace and naturalness, which is the true spice of melody. MUSICAL GENIUS
  • In the Mulliner Book the term is applied in this way, and voluntaries there are seen to be a sort of contrapuntal fantasia or ricercar without any cantus firmus.
  • In the early years of the seventeenth century, English composers increasingly turned to the hexachord as a cantus firmus for keyboard pieces.
  • The use of a cantus firmus was not essential, while big intervals in the melodic lines, chromaticism and homophony in crucial places were all allowed to help the understanding of the words. Archive 2009-06-01
  • The desire for harmony, that is, the simultaneous sounding with the cantus firmus, tenor, or theme, of one or more voices on different intervals, first found expression in the so-called diaphony or "Organum" of Hucbald (840-930 or 932). The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 4: Clandestinity-Diocesan Chancery
  • The cantus firmus is sounded in semibreves in the middle of the three voices.
  • It may take more talent to invent a single melodic turn of phrase for the expression of a conceit to write the “air” or the “theme” of a chanson, than to place two, three, or more counterpoints against a cantus firmus and to write what one calls figured music, or a finished composition (chose faite), though the latter requires more learning MUSICAL GENIUS
  • Prioris also wrote two motet-chansons, both for four voices, in which as usual for the genre the cantus firmus is dispersed so as to accommodate the rondeau structure of the whole. Archive 2009-05-01
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