Descant
Descant Des"cant (d[e^]s"k[a^]nt), n. [OF. descant, deschant, F. d['e]chant, discant, LL. discantus, fr. L. dis + cantus singing, melody, fr. canere to sing. See {Chant}, and cf. {Descant}, v. i., {Discant}.] 1. (Mus.) (a) Originally, a double song; a melody or counterpoint sung above the plain song of the tenor; a variation of an air; a variation by ornament of the main subject or plain song. (b) The upper voice in part music. (c) The canto, cantus, or soprano voice; the treble. --Grove. [1913 Webster]

Twenty doctors expound one text twenty ways, as children make descant upon plain song. --Tyndale. [1913 Webster]

She [the nightingale] all night long her amorous descant sung. --Milton. [1913 Webster]

Note: The term has also been used synonymously with counterpoint, or polyphony, which developed out of the French d['e]chant, of the 12th century. [1913 Webster]

2. A discourse formed on its theme, like variations on a musical air; a comment or comments. [1913 Webster]

Upon that simplest of themes how magnificent a descant! --De Quincey. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

Synonyms:

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  • Descant — or discant can refer to several different things in music, depending on the period in question; etymologically, the word means a voice (cantus) above or removed from others. A discant (occasionally, particularly later, written descant) is a form… …   Wikipedia

  • Descant — Des*cant (d[e^]s*k[a^]nt ), v. i. [imp. & p. p. {Descanted}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Descanting}.] [From descant; n.; or directly fr. OF. descanter, deschanter; L. dis + cantare to sing.] 1. To sing a variation or accomplishment. [1913 Webster] 2. To… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • descant — [des′kant΄; ] for v., also [ des kant′] n. [ME < Anglo Fr deschaunt & ML discantus < L dis , from, apart + cantus, song: see CHANT] 1. Medieval Music a) two part singing in which there is a fixed, known melody and an additional but… …   English World dictionary

  • descant — index censure, comment, converse, declaim Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • descant — vb 1 *sing, troll, carol, warble, trill, hymn, chant, intone 2 *discourse, expatiate, dilate …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • descant — ► NOUN ▪ an independent treble melody sung or played above a basic melody. ► VERB ▪ talk tediously or at length. ORIGIN Latin discantus part song, refrain …   English terms dictionary

  • descant — {{11}}descant (n.) late 14c., from O.N.Fr. descant (O.Fr. deschant), from M.L. discantus refrain, part song, from L. dis asunder, apart (see DIS (Cf. dis )) + cantus song (see CHANT (Cf. chant)). Spelling was partly Latinized 16c. Originally… …   Etymology dictionary

  • descant — descanter, n. n., adj. /des kant/; v. /des kant , dis /, n. 1. Music. a. a melody or counterpoint accompanying a simple musical theme and usually written above it. b. (in part music) the soprano. c. a song or melody. 2. a variation upon anything; …   Universalium

  • descant — Figurate Fig ur*ate, a. [L. figuratus, p. p. of figurare. See {Figure}.] 1. Of a definite form or figure. [1913 Webster] Plants are all figurate and determinate, which inanimate bodies are not. Bacon. [1913 Webster] 2. Figurative; metaphorical.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • descant — [14] Etymologically, descant is a parallel formation to English part song. English acquired it via Old French deschant from medieval Latin discantus ‘refrain’, a compound noun formed from the prefix dis ‘apart’ and cantus ‘song’. The notion… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

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