noun (plural cantus firmi /ˈfərˌmī, -mē/)Music
An existing melody used as the basis for a polyphonic composition.
More example sentences
- In the early years of the seventeenth century, English composers increasingly turned to the hexachord as a cantus firmus for keyboard pieces.
- Orgelbuchlein Pieces - Bach's ‘Little Organ Book’ consists of 45 short chorales mainly having the cantus firmus in the soprano voice with the lower voices acting as counterpoint to the chorale melodies.
- The cantus firmus is sounded in semibreves in the middle of the three voices.
mid 19th century: from Latin, literally 'firm song'.
Definition of cantus firmus in:
- The British & World English dictionary