American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Music An ornamental melody or counterpoint sung or played above a theme.
- n. Music The highest part sung in part music.
- n. A discussion or discourse on a theme.
- v. To comment at length; discourse: "He used to descant critically on the dishes which had been at table” ( James Boswell).
- v. Music To sing or play a descant.
- v. Music To sing melodiously.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. In music: A counterpoint added to a given melody or cantus firmus, and usually written above it.
- n. The art of contriving such a counterpoint, or, in general, of composing part-music. Descant was the first stage in the development of counterpoint; it began about 1100.
- n. In part-music, the upper part or voice, especially the soprano or air.
- n. A varied song; a song or tune with various modulations.
- n. A continued discourse or series of comments upon a subject; a disquisition; comment; remark.
- In music, to run a division or variety with the voice, on a musical ground in true measure; sing.
- To make copious and varied comments; discourse; remark again and again in varied phrase; enlarge or dwell on a matter in a variety of remarks or comments about it: usually with on or upon before the subject of remark: as, to descant upon the beauties of a scene, or the shortness of life.
- n. A lengthy discourse on a subject
- n. music a counterpoint melody sung or played above the theme
- v. intransitive To discuss at length.
- v. intransitive To sing or play a descant.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. 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.
- n. The upper voice in part music.
- n. The
canto, cantus, or soprano voice; the treble.
- n. A discourse formed on its theme, like variations on a musical air; a comment or comments.
- v. To sing a variation or accomplishment.
- v. To comment freely; to discourse with fullness and particularity; to discourse at large.
- v. sing by changing register; sing by yodeling
- v. talk at great length about something of one's interest
- v. sing in descant
- n. a decorative musical accompaniment (often improvised) added above a basic melody
- Middle English, from Anglo-Norman descaunt, from Medieval Latin discantus, a refrain : Latin dis-, dis- + Latin cantus, song, from past participle of canere, to sing; see kan- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“African descant, which is why they dominant most sports where this explosive power is an asset.”
“We think Mr. Hazlitt's notes are, in the main, good; but we should like to know his authority for saying that _pench_ means "the hole in a bench by which it was taken up," -- that "descant" means”
“To 'descant' meant to sing or play an _extempore_ second 'part' to a written melody.”
“Now a "descant" is a variation imposed upon a plain-song.”
“This tone, with a long descant at the beginning of each verse, and a long and solemn conclusion, represents the weeping of the Church over His death.”
“Fruits Basket (Eps 13-14) (Pleasant little kids intrigue descant with little plot) (New)”
“There was, all the same, an unmistakable descant to yesterday's cheerfully celebratory spectacular.”
“Ken Clarke was so close to the action that when the choirboys did their descant, it looked as though it was coming from him, and he had a surprisingly high, sweet voice.”
“The congregation found strength in the final chord, swelling together with the organ's descant and sat down with resolve, in fluid motion.”
“Alright, getting back to our tour of your career, your next album was Heroes And Thieves, and you recorded some interesting things on the side, including that descant on "Big Yellow Taxi" for the Counting Crows.”
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