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British Dictionary definitions for canto fermo

canto fermo

cantus firmus (ˈkæntəs ˈfɜːməs)

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
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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