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plainsong

[pleyn-sawng, -song] /ˈpleɪnˌsɔŋ, -ˌsɒŋ/
noun
1.
the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times.
2.
modal liturgical music; Gregorian chant.
3.
a cantus firmus or theme chosen for contrapuntal development.
4.
any simple and unadorned melody or air.
Also, plain song.
Also called plainchant (for defs 1, 2).
Origin
1505-1515
1505-15; translation of Medieval Latin cantus plānus
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for plainsong

plainsong

/ˈpleɪnˌsɒŋ/
noun
1.
the style of unison unaccompanied vocal music used in the medieval Church, esp in Gregorian chant Also called plainchant
Word Origin
C16: translation of Medieval Latin cantus plānus
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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Encyclopedia Article for plainsong

chant

the Gregorian chant (q.v.) and, by extension, other similar religious chants. The word derives from the 13th-century Latin term cantus planus ("plain song"), referring to the unmeasured rhythm and monophony (single line of melody) of Gregorian chant, as distinguished from the measured rhythm of polyphonic (multipart) music, called cantus mensuratus, or cantus figuratus ("measured," or "figured," song). Its other main application is to ancient Christian music with the same unmeasured rhythm and monophony-in the West, Ambrosian, Gallican, and Mozarabic chants (qq.v.); in the East, Byzantine, Syrian, Coptic, Ethiopian, and Armenian chants (qq.v.). It may also refer to similar non-Christian religious music, such as Jewish and Hindu chants.

Learn more about chant with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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