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or plain song

[pleyn-sawng, -song] /ˈpleɪnˌsɔŋ, -ˌsɒŋ/
the unisonous vocal music used in the Christian church from the earliest times.
modal liturgical music; Gregorian chant.
a cantus firmus or theme chosen for contrapuntal development.
any simple and unadorned melody or air.
Also called plainchant (for defs 1, 2).
Origin of plainsong
1505-15; translation of Medieval Latin cantus plānus Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for plainsong
Historical Examples
  • Florid music, or all church music that is not plainsong, or its Lutheran equivalent the chorale-melody.


    Charles Francis Abdy Williams
  • Descant in music is the melodious accompaniment to a simple theme, the plainsong or ground.

  • There was a chapel in the house, of a High Anglican kind, where vestments and incense were used, and plainsong sung.


    Arthur Christopher Benson
  • He appears familiar with the plainsong, and has based a symphony and portions of a quartet on Gregorian modes.

    Musical Portraits Paul Rosenfeld
  • And Winchester, too, has all and more than all, the surprise of the plainsong; the better you know it the more you are impressed.

  • It is therefore of some interest to find that in 1548 the Master at Giggleswick had a knowledge of plainsong as well as grammar.

British Dictionary definitions for plainsong


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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