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Cantus firmus
(790 words)

1. Contexts of meaning

Three contexts of meaning are associated with the term cantus firmus (Latin, also: cantus prius factus; Italian canto fermo, “fixed/enduring/unadorned song”). By the Middle Ages, in monodic sacredmusic, it had already come to denote a melody that advanced in tones of equal duration. As polyphony developed, cantus firmus also came to refer to a pre-existing melody that formed the basis for a composition. The term also occurs in a blend of both senses in music theo…

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Lindmayr-Brandl, Andrea, “Cantus firmus”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 06 December 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_017964>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20160907

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