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Cantus firmus (Lat.: ‘fixed melody’; Ger. fester Gesang; It. canto fermo)locked

  • 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....

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