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canto fermo

/ˈkæntəʊ ˈfɜːməʊ/
noun
1.
a melody that is the basis to which other parts are added in polyphonic music
2.
the traditional plainchant as prescribed by use and regulation in the Christian Church
Word Origin
Italian, from Medieval Latin, literally: fixed song
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
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