Cantus firmus (Lat.: ‘fixed melody’; Ger. fester Gesang; It. canto fermo)
- M. Jennifer Bloxam
A term, associated particularly with medieval and Renaissance music, that designates a pre-existing melody used as the basis of a new polyphonic composition. The melody may be taken from plainchant or monophonic secular music, or from one voice of a sacred or secular polyphonic work, or it may be freely invented. Cantus firmus composition is now understood to encompass a wide range of rhythmic and melodic treatments of an antecedent tune within a new polyphonic texture....