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Canto Definition

Poetry Definition of Canto

CANTO (from the Lat. cantus, a song), one of the divisions of a long poem, a convenient division when poetry was more usually sung by the minstrel to his own accompaniment than read. In music, the canto, in a concerted piece, is that part to which the air is given. In modern music this is nearly always the soprano. The old masters, however, more frequently allotted it to the tenor. Canto fermo, or cantus firmus, is that part of the melody which remains true to the original motive, while the other parts vary with the counterpoint; also in Church music the simple straightforward melody of the old chants as opposed to canto figurato, which is full of embellishments of a florid character. The subdivision of a long narrative poem e.g. in The Divine Comedy by Dante. Spenser was the first English poet to use cantos. The Cantos is a long (some would say too long) poem by Ezra Pound.


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Standard Definition

[n] a major division of a long poem
[n] the highest part (usually the melody) in a piece of choral music

Misc. Definitions

\Can"to\, n.; pl. {Cantos}. [It. canto, fr. L. cantus singing, song. See {Chant}.]
1. One of the chief divisions of a long poem; a book.
2. (Mus.) The highest vocal part; the air or melody in choral music; anciently the tenor, now the soprano. {Canto fermo}[It.] (Mus.), the plain ecclesiastical chant in cathedral service; the plain song.

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