Cantus firmus, cantus firmus
Music Terms

Cantus firmus, cantus firmus

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lat., lit. – strong, or firm, singing, strong, unchanging melody; ital. canto fermo

In the 15-16 centuries. the theme of a major choral work. (sometimes only parts of it), borrowed by the composer from existing (secular, spiritual) melodies or composed by him and serving as the basis of the muses. forms. Previous C. f. the form was cantus planus (even singing), according to Tinktoris, consisting of notes of indefinite (actually, large) duration and characteristic of Gregorian chant (see Gregorian chant). C. f., like the cantus planus, was written in notes of great duration and was usually placed in a tenor (hence the name of this voice: from Latin tenere – I hold, I pull).

C. f. determined the intonational content of the product, since the rest of his voices were usually built on melodic. revs C. f. in free rhythm. modification. These derivatives from C. f. and its parts, the subthemes were imitatively performed in other voices, causing the unity of the composition with a known contrasting rhythmic relationship with C. f. In large cycles production, eg. in masses, with repeated holdings of S. f. sometimes its variants were used in circulation and in the movement (J. Despres – the Mass “Armed Man”, parts of Gloria and Credo). With the advent of ricercar in the middle. 16th century C. f. gradually passes into this form in the form of carrying out the theme in double, quadruple magnification (A. Gabrieli and others) and, thus, becomes one of the elements that prepared the fugue. A different interpretation of C. f. gets in it. “tenor song” (Tenorlied) of the 16th century, in choral arrangements of the 17th-18th centuries. (S. Scheidt, D. Buxtehude, J. Pachelbel, J. S. Bach) – its melody in even durations is combined with contrapunctuating voices, rhythmically and intonationally more developed. The continuation of this tradition in the 19th century. were processed Nar. songs of I. Brahms (“German Folk Songs”, 1858). As a transformation of the old principle of using C. f. Variations on the basso ostinato, which became widespread in the 17th-18th centuries, can be considered.

References: Sokolov N., Imitations on Cantus firmus. A guide to learning strict counterpoint. L., 1928; Aubry P., (Gastouy A.), Recherches sur les “Tenors” latins dans les motets du XIII siècle d’apris le manuscript de Montpellier, “La Tribune de Saint-Gervais”, XIII, 1907, ed. ed. – Aubry P., Recherches sur les “Tenors” français …, P., 1907; Sawyer FH, The use and treatment of canto fermo by the Netherlands school of the fifteenth century, Papers of the American Musicological Society, v. LXIII, 1937; Meier B., Die Harmonik im cantus firmus-haltigen Satz des 15. Jahrhunderts, “AfMw”, Jahrg. IX, 1952, H. 1; Schmidt G., Zur Frage des Cantus firmus im 14. und beginnenden 15. Jahrhundert, “AfMw”, Jahrg. XV, 1958, no. 4; Finsher L., Zur Cantus firmus-Behandlung in der Psalm-Motette der Josquinzeit, in H. Albrecht in memoriam, Kassel, 1962, s. 55-62; Sparks EH, Cantus firmus in mass and motet. 1420-1520, Berk. — Los Ang., 1963.

T. F. Müller

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