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5 definitions found
 for descant
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

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

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  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 comment freely; to discourse with fullness and
        particularity; to discourse at large.
        [1913 Webster]
              A virtuous man should be pleased to find people
              descanting on his actions.            --Addison.
        [1913 Webster]

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Figurate \Fig"ur*ate\, a. [L. figuratus, p. p. of figurare. See
     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. [Obs.] --Bale.
        [1913 Webster]
     3. (Mus.) Florid; figurative; involving passing discords by
        the freer melodic movement of one or more parts or voices
        in the harmony; as, figurate counterpoint or descant.
        [1913 Webster]
     Figurate counterpoint or Figurate descant (Mus.), that
        which is not simple, or in which the parts do not move
        together tone for tone, but in which freer movement of one
        or more parts mingles passing discords with the harmony;
        -- called also figural, figurative, and figured
        counterpoint or descant (although the term figured is
        more commonly applied to a bass with numerals written
        above or below to indicate the other notes of the
     Figurate numbers (Math.), numbers, or series of numbers,
        formed from any arithmetical progression in which the
        first term is a unit, and the difference a whole number,
        by taking the first term, and the sums of the first two,
        first three, first four, etc., as the successive terms of
        a new series, from which another may be formed in the same
        manner, and so on, the numbers in the resulting series
        being such that points representing them are capable of
        symmetrical arrangement in different geometrical figures,
        as triangles, squares, pentagons, etc.
     Note: In the following example, the two lower lines are
           composed of figurate numbers, those in the second line
           being triangular, and represented thus:
           . 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. . . . 1, 3, 6, 10, etc. . . . . . .
           . etc. 1, 4, 10, 20, etc . . . . . . . . . . . .
           [1913 Webster]

From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) :

      n 1: a decorative musical accompaniment (often improvised) added
           above a basic melody [syn: descant, discant]
      v 1: sing in descant
      2: sing by changing register; sing by yodeling; "The Austrians
         were yodeling in the mountains" [syn: yodel, warble,
      3: talk at great length about something of one's interest

From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0 :

  196 Moby Thesaurus words for "descant":
     Nachtmusik, Vorspiel, absolute music, accompaniment, adaptation,
     air, air varie, aleatory, aleatory music, alto, amplify, anthem,
     aria, arrangement, article, ballad, baritone, bass, basso continuo,
     basso ostinato, bassus, canto, cantus, cantus figuratus,
     cantus planus, carol, causerie, chamber music, chamber orchestra,
     chant, chirp, chirrup, choir, chorus, comment upon, composition,
     concert overture, continuo, contralto, criticize, croon,
     curtain raiser, deal with, detail, develop, diapason, dilate,
     discourse, discuss, discussion, disquisition, dissert, dissertate,
     dissertation, ditty, do-re-mi, dramatic overture, drone, elaborate,
     electronic music, enlarge, enlarge upon, essay, etude, evolve,
     examination, excursus, exercise, expand, expatiate, explicate,
     exposition, feature, figured bass, first approach, go into,
     ground bass, handle, harmonization, homily, hum, hymn,
     incidental music, inquire into, instrumental music, intonate,
     intone, introduction, introductory study, invention, lay, lied,
     lilt, line, lucubration, measure, melodia, melodic line, melody,
     memoir, minstrel, monograph, morceau, nocturne, note,
     operatic overture, opus, orchestration, outline, overture, pandect,
     paper, paragraph, part, particularize, piece, pipe, plain chant,
     plain song, preliminary study, prelude, prick song, production,
     program music, prolegomenon, psalm, quaver, refrain,
     rehearse in extenso, relate at large, remark upon, research paper,
     review, ricercar, roulade, score, screed, serenade, sermonize,
     shake, sing, sing in chorus, sketch, sol-fa, solmizate, solo,
     solo part, sonata, sonatina, song, soprano, soprano part,
     special article, strain, string orchestra, string quartet, study,
     survey, take up, tenor, term paper, theme, theme and variations,
     thesis, thorough bass, touch upon, tract, tractate, treat,
     treat of, treatise, treatment, treble, tremolo, trill, trio, troll,
     tune, tweedle, tweedledee, twit, twitter, undersong, unfold, vamp,
     variation, vocalize, voice, voice part, voluntary, warble, whistle,
     work, work out, write up, yodel

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