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canon

, in Christianity
canon, in Christianity, in the Roman Catholic Church, decrees of church councils are usually called canons; since the Council of Trent the expression has been especially reserved to dogmatic pronouncements of ecumenical councils. The body of ratified conciliar canons is a large part of the legislation of canon law. The Eucharistic central, mainly invariable part of the Mass is the canon. The term is also applied in the Western Church to certain types of priests. There are canons regular, priests living in community under a rule but not cloistered like monks; the Augustinian, or Austin, canons and the Premonstratensians are the best known of these. The priests attached to a cathedral or large church are sometimes organized into a group, or college, and called canons secular; a church having such a group is a collegiate church. A canon is also an official list, as in canonization, i.e., enrollment among the saints, and of the names of books of the Bible accepted by the church (see Old Testament; New Testament; Apocrypha; Pseudepigrapha). Cathedral canons often have diocesan charges or pastoral duties apart from the cathedral. Canons of the Church of England are mostly cathedral canons.

canon

, in music
canon, in music, a type of counterpoint employing the strictest form of imitation. All the voices of a canon have the same melody, beginning at different times. Successive entrances may be at the same or at different pitches. Another form of canon is the circle canon, or round, e.g., Sumer Is Icumen In. In the 14th and 15th cent. retrograde motion was employed to form what is known as crab canon, or canon cancrizans, wherein the original melody is turned backward to become the second voice. In the 15th and 16th cent. mensuration canons were frequently written, in which the voices sing the same melodic pattern in different, but proportional, note values, i.e., to be sung at different speeds. Bach made noteworthy use of canon, particularly in the Goldberg Variations. Beethoven, Mozart, Haydn, Schumann, and Brahms wrote canons, and Franck used the device in the last movement of his violin sonata. It is an essential device of serial music.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Canon

 

in the fine arts, an aggregate of firmly established rules, defining for works of art the compositional and coloristic norms, the system of proportions, and the iconography that is suitable for a particular representation. The word “canon” also refers to a work that serves as a normative model. Canonical systems, the result of religious prescriptions, prevailed in ancient Oriental and medieval art (for example, the dogmatic ecclesiastical canonical patterns in icon painting). Ancient Greek, ancient Roman, and Renaissance artists attempted rationally to find ideal laws governing the proportions of the human body; they wanted to discover immutable, mathematically substantiated rules governing the creation of the human figure.


Canon

 

a form in polyphonic music based on each voice presenting the same melody, which is taken up by the next voice before the preceding one has stated it completely (the principle of strict imitation). Two- and three-part canons are most common, although four- and five-part ones are encountered. The melody in a canon can begin in each of the successive voices on the same tone as the lead voice or at any given interval.

There are various types of canon—for example, the melody in the successive voices can be augmented or diminished in all values or given in another temporal formulation, in inversion (direction of the intervals is changed), or in retrograde motion (from the last tone to the first). The double canon has two melody themes being imitated simultaneously. Circular, or infinite, canon leads back to the beginning; thus it can be repeated any number of times. Riddle canon only notes the melody and leaves the solution of its imitation to the performer.

Canon arose around the 12th century and came into extensive use in the 14th century, an era marked by the domination of polyphony; in the 15th century major works of sacred music (canonic Mass) were often built on a canonic basis. Later canon was more often an element of another form, particularly the fugue. It reached its highest level of development in the works of J. S. Bach.

Remarkable examples of canon are also found in works by Russian composers—for example the quartet “What a Wonderful Moment” from Act 1 of Ruslan and Ludmila by Glinka and the duet “The Enemies” from Act 2, Scene 2 of Eugene Onegin by Tchaikovsky.

REFERENCES

Taneev, S. Uchenie o kanone.Moscow, 1929.
Bogatyrev, S. Dvoinoi kanon. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.

T. F. MIULLER


Canon

 

a collection of dogmatic precepts.

(1) The biblical canon—all the books of the Bible considered by the church to be “divinely inspired” (as distinct from the Apocrypha) and used during the divine services as the “holy scriptures.” The Old Testament canon, written in Hebrew, was put together early in the second century A.D. The canon of the Old Testament in Greek translation (put together later) differs in the list of the books and their wording. The New Testament canon was determined by Athanasius of Alexandria in A.D. 367, but the disputes (especially with regard to the inclusion of the Book of Revelation) continued up to the ninth century. The canons of the Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant churches differ with regard to the list of included books.

(2) The church canons—rules established by the church on doctrine, worship, and church organization given the force of “law” by the highest level of church authority (church councils, mainly ecumenical councils, and papal decrees).

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

canon

1
1. Christianity a Church decree enacted to regulate morals or religious practices
2. RC Church the complete list of the canonized saints
3. the prayer in the Mass in which the Host is consecrated
4. a list of writings, esp sacred writings, officially recognized as genuine
5. a piece of music in which an extended melody in one part is imitated successively in one or more other parts
6. a list of the works of an author that are accepted as authentic

canon

2
1. one of several priests on the permanent staff of a cathedral, who are responsible for organizing services, maintaining the fabric, etc.
2. RC Church a member of either of two religious orders, the Augustinian or Premonstratensian Canons, living communally as monks but performing clerical duties
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005