or plain song

[pleyn-sawng, -song]


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.

Origin of plainsong

1505–15; translation of Medieval Latin cantus plānus
Also called plainchant (for defs 1, 2). Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for plainsong

Historical Examples of plainsong

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for plainsong



the style of unison unaccompanied vocal music used in the medieval Church, esp in Gregorian chantAlso called: plainchant

Word Origin for plainsong

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