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cantus firmus

[kan-tuh s fur-muh s] /ˈkæn təs ˈfɜr məs/
noun
1.
the ancient traditional unisonal plainchant of the Christian Church, having its form set and its use prescribed by ecclesiastical tradition.
2.
Music. a fixed melody to which other voices are added, typically in polyphonic treatment.
Origin
1840-1850
1840-50; < Medieval Latin: literally, firm song
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for cantus firmus

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
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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