cantus firmus

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

cantus firmus (Lat.). Fixed song. A melody, usually taken from plainsong, used by composers in 14th–17th cents. as the basis of a polyphonic comp. and against which other tunes are set in counterpoint. Also, in 16th cent., the upper v.-line of a choir. Sometimes referred to as canto fermo. See conductus.