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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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