Des"cant (?), n. [OF. descant, deschant, F. d'echant, 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.

Twenty doctors expound one text twenty ways, as children make descant upon plain song. Tyndale.

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

⇒ The term has also been used synonymously with counterpoint, or polyphony, which developed out of the French d'echant, of the 12th century.

2.

A discourse formed on its theme, like variations on a musical air; a comment or comments.

Upon that simplest of themes how magnificent a descant! De Quincey.

 

© Webster 1913.


Des*cant" (?), 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.

2.

To comment freely; to discourse with fullness and particularity; to discourse at large.

A virtuous man should be pleased to find people descanting on his actions. Addison.

 

© Webster 1913.

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