descant

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descant

Music
1. a decorative counterpoint added above a basic melody
2. of or pertaining to the highest member in common use of a family of musical instruments
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Barnes's use of it as a verb recalls the practice of going about on All Souls' Day singing and begging for Soul Cakes, an activity not unlike the writing and revising of the Discants, Laughing Lamentations, and Sardonics, that occupied the last years of Barnes's life.
9 (Alleluya: Dies sanctificatus), whose discant setting of no(bis) exists in two versions (W1 and N Cambridge, University Library, Ff.
Revised in the last years of the thirteenth century, the treatise constitutes the first attempt at a comprehensive approach to music, taking into account speculative and practical aspects, sacred and secular contexts, plainchant and mensural music, and the rules of psalmody and discant.
Deum vis haec Deum / Deum abditum hoc arbitrium est, / Ut, qui natantis dispuunt regnum trabis, / Parere discant Viperae.
Organum also denotes early vocal polyphonic style that featured a slower tenor voice accompanied by faster moving vocal lines It was certainly commonplace for singers to improvise around a line of chant, as Pope John XII's Docta sanctorum of 1323 attests: "Moreover, they [composers and singers] hinder the melody with hockets, they deprave it with discants, and sometimes they pad out the music with upper parts made out of secular songs.