Definition of cantus in English:



  • The highest voice in polyphonic choral music.

    ‘this gives both cantus and bass above each other’
    • ‘When copying Monteverdi's Ahi dolente partita on pp.410-11, each occurrence of a unison between the two cantus parts is marked with a cross.’
    • ‘But Farmer's cantus part had no independent existence, and certainly would not have been used for congregational singing.’
    • ‘Musically, the next, extended subsection is built around the brooding, mainly narrowstepped cantus in violas, (later with cellos and horns), shown in Ex.1b, with sonorous chords above and below which settle on a sustained C in the bass.’


Late 16th century: from Latin.