cantilena

cantilena

[kan-tl-ee-nuh]
noun
a simple, lyric, melodic passage for voice or instrument.

Origin:
1730–40; < Italian < Latin cantilēna refrain, perhaps by dissimilation from *cantilēla, derivative of cantus song; see cant1

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cantilena (ˌkæntɪˈleɪnə)
 
n
a smooth flowing style in the writing of vocal music
 
[C18: Italian, from Latin cantilēna a song]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

cantilena

in late medieval and early Renaissance music, term for certain vocal forms as they were known in the 15th century; also a musical texture used widely in both secular and sacred compositions of that century. Cantilena style is characterized by a predominant vocal top line supported by less complex and usually instrumental tenor and countertenor lines; it occurred both in homophonic, or chordal, music and in polyphonic music having a contrapuntal (interwoven melody) texture

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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