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Canon(i) (from Gk. kanōn: ‘rule’, ‘precept’)locked

  • Alfred Mann,
  • J. Kenneth Wilson
  •  and Peter Urquhart


As a musical term, ‘canon’ originally referred to an inscribed formula or instruction which the performer would implement in order to realize one or more parts from the given notation. Among the many possible instructions provided by a verbal ‘canon’ was that of extracting a second voice from the given voice at a specified intervallic and temporal distance. Strict (‘canonic’) imitation was so common and useful a procedure that the word ‘canon’ eventually came to mean the polyphonic texture of two or more voices created by the procedure, which is its primary meaning today....

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