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cantilena

[kan-tl-ee-nuh] /ˌkæn tlˈi nə/
noun
1.
a simple, lyric, melodic passage for voice or instrument.
Origin
1730-1740
1730-40; < Italian < Latin cantilēna refrain, perhaps by dissimilation from *cantilēla, derivative of cantus song; see cant1
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British Dictionary definitions for cantilena

cantilena

/ˌkæntɪˈleɪnə/
noun
1.
a smooth flowing style in the writing of vocal music
Word Origin
C18: Italian, from Latin cantilēna a song
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for 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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