Prayer-Book the word is used for the Benedicite only. The word is derived from the Latin cantictum,
the term applied in the Vulgate to the Song of Moses, the Song of Solomon, many of the psalms, etc., etc. In the Calendar of the Prayer-Book the Song of Solomon is entitled 'The Canticles,' but in common parlance the above is the meaning of the term.
CANTO (Lat. Cantus
; Fr. Chant
). With the Italians this word has a great variety of acceptations; e. g. music, instrumental as well as vocal; the motif
, subject or leading idea, of a musical composition; the art and practice of singing; a section of a poem, etc., etc. Canto fermo or cantus firmus is the tune or melody of an ancient hymn on which a motet is founded, and which remains firm
to its original shape while the parts around it are varying with the counterpoint. Technically canto is more generally understood to represent that part of a concerted piece to which the melody is assigned. With the old masters this was, as a rule, the Tenor
; with the modern it is almost always the Soprano
. Thence canto (voice as well as part) has become synonymous with soprano. The canto clef is the C clef on the first line—
CANTO FERMO, or
CANTUS FIRMUS, the plain song—as distinguished from Canto figurato, the florid or figured song—is the simple unadorned melody of the ancient hymns and chants of the church. Such tunes are often employed by the great church composers of the Roman church as the basis of their compositions. Thus in Palestrina's masses 'Æterna Christi munera,' and 'Assumpta est Maria,' each movement begins with the first phrase of the hymn. His motet 'Beatus Laurentius' is still more completely founded on the canto fermo, since the tune is sung throughout the piece in the first tenor, while the other four parts are moving in counterpoint above and below it—a counterpoint more or less closely modelled on the tune. In such cases the tune is usually marked in the score as C. F. (canto fermo). Bach treats his choral-melodies in the same way (see his cantata 'Ein' feste Burg'; his organ 'Vorspiele' on 'Kyrie'; 'Christe'; 'Kyrie'; on 'Allein Gott'; 'Dies sind die heiligen'; 'Vater unser,' etc., etc.), and in so doing styles them 'canti fermi.' In English the term is often translated by 'Plain-chant.'
CANTORIS. One of the most prominent features of the singing in the services of the Christian churches is its antiphonal character; that is, the manner in which the singers on either side of the church answer one another in the chants or in passages of the music. In order to distinguish the sides from one another in English cathedrals the words Decani
are used, the former being the side of the dean's stall on the south or right-hand side when facing the altar, and the latter that of the cantor or precentor on the north or left-hand side.
CANZONA (Ital.) The name of a particular variety of lyric poetry in the Italian style, and of Provençal origin, which closely resembled the madrigal. Musically, the term is applied (1) to the setting to music of the words of a canzona, whether for one or more voices, the only difference between the canzona and the madrigal being that the former was less strict in style. (2) The name was also given to an instrumental piece written in the style of a madrigal. An example of such a canzona, by Sebastian Bach, may be found in the fourth volume of Griepenkerl's edition of his organ works. (3) It appears to have been used as an equivalent for sonata for a piece of several movements; and also as a mark of time, in place of Allegro (Brossard).
CANZONET (in Italian Canzonetta
) originally meant a smaller form of canzona. Morley in 1597 published 'Canzonets or little short songs to four voices; selected out of the best and approved Italian authors.' Afterwards the word was used for vocal soli of some length in more than one movement; nowadays it is applied to short songs, generally of a light and airy character. Haydn has left us some admirable canzonets, grave and gay; for example, 'She never told her love,' and 'My mother bids me bind my hair.'
CAPELLA (Ital. a chapel). Di capella, or à capella, mean in a church-like fashion, as distinguished from Di camera, or Di teatro, in the fashion of the chamber or the theatre. [Chapelle
.] The same word in German, Capelle
, means the private band of a court or church, or even a dance-orchestra, and Capellmeister
the conductor of the same. [ Kapelle
, an Italian cello-player who arrived in London in 1735, and excited much attention. In 1740 he joined Handel's opera-band, and died in London in or about 1756. He was more famous for tone and expression than for execution.
CAPO TASTO (Ital., from Capo
, head, and tasto
, touch, or tie; Germ. Capotaster
, sometimes Capo d'astro
). In Italian the nut of a lute or guitar, but also the general name of a contrivance for shortening the vibratory lengths of strings, thus forming a second nut, expressed in French by 'barre,' to facilitate change of key. The construction of a capo tasto varies according to the stringing and shape of the neck of the instrument it is to be applied to, but it may be described as a narrow rail of hard wood, metal, or ivory, clothed with leather or cloth, and often fastened by a screw upon the fret from which it is intended to mark off the new length of the strings. There are other but less simple ways of attaching it. The technical advantage of using a capo tasto is that higher shifts can be more easily obtained; and the use of open strings, upon which the possibility of chords often depends, is facilitated in a higher compass than that natural to the instrument. How much transposition may be facilitated by it is thus shown by Herr Max Albert in Mendel's Lexicon.