AskDefine | Define chant

Dictionary Definition

chant n : a repetitive song in which as many syllables as necessary are assigned to a single tone


1 recite with musical intonation; recite as a chant or a psalm; "The rabbi chanted a prayer" [syn: intone, intonate, cantillate]
2 utter monotonously and repetitively and rhythmically; "The students chanted the same slogan over and over again" [syn: tone, intone]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


From chanter, from cantare, "sing".



  1. To sing, especially without instruments, and as applied to monophonic and pre-modern music.


sing monophonically without instruments


  1. Type of singing done generally without instruments and harmony.





  • /ʃɑ̃/, /SA~/


fr-noun m


Related terms







cy-mut-c ant

Extensive Definition

Chant (from Old French chanter) is the rhythmic speaking or singing of words or sounds, often primarily on one or two pitches called reciting tones. Chants may range from a simple melody involving a limited set of notes to highly complex musical structures, often including a great deal of repetition of musical subphrases, such as Great Responsories and Offertories of Gregorian chant. Chant may be considered speech, music, or a heightened or stylized form of speech. In the later Middle Ages some religious chant evolved into song (forming one of the roots of later Western music).

Chant as a spiritual practice

Chanting the Name of God is a spiritual practice that is commonly practiced. Chants form part of many religious rituals, and diverse spiritual traditions consider chant a route to spiritual development. Some examples include chant in African and Native American cultures, Gregorian chant, Vedic chant, Jewish liturgical music (chazzanut), Qur'an reading, Baha'i chants, various Buddhist chants, various mantras, and the chanting of psalms and prayers especially in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran and Anglican churches (see Anglican Chant). Tibetan Buddhist chant involves throat singing, where multiple pitches are produced by each performer. The concept of chanting mantras is of particular significance in many Hindu traditions and other closely related Dharmic Religions. For example, the Hare Krishna movement is based especially on the chanting of Sanskrit Names of God. Japanese Shigin (詩吟), or 'chanted poetry', mirrors Zen principles and is sung from the gut — the locus of power in Zen Buddhism.

Other uses of chant

Chants are used in a variety of settings from ritual to recreation. Supporters or players in sports contests may use them (see football chant). Warriors in ancient times would chant a battle cry. They are also used on protests, and are widely adapted with only a few words changed between topic.
Recently, musical genres such as Hardcore, Grindcore, and other aggressive forms of music have adopted this concept. Many times during a 'breakdown' (the segment of the song where the time signature is half counted or significantly slowed in some way). The singer will recite a chant, the object of this is to get everyone involved and create a feeling of passion throughout the room causing overall reaction to the music, including pits, to be more intense. Rap music, which is primarily spoken rather than sung, depends heavily on a highly rhythmic delivery with many elements of chant, particularly in chorus sections.
Chanting is also popular in film and Video Game scores, such as the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy by Howard Shore, Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace by John Williams , Ghost in the Shell by Kenji Kawai or King Kong vs Godzilla by Akira Ifukube, or in the case of games, the Halo (series) of First Person Shooters by Martin O'Donnell and Michael Salvatori.


chant in Czech: Chorál
chant in German: Chanting
chant in Croatian: Pojanje
chant in Dutch: Chant
chant in Norwegian: Messe (talemåte)
chant in Norwegian Nynorsk: Messing
chant in Polish: Chant
chant in Simple English: Chant
chant in Serbo-Croatian: Pojanje

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Agnus Dei, Benedicite, Brautlied, Christmas carol, Gloria, Gloria Patri, Gloria in Excelsis, Introit, Kunstlied, Liebeslied, Magnificat, Miserere, Nunc Dimittis, Te Deum, Trisagion, Vedic hymn, Volkslied, alba, alleluia, answer, anthem, antiphon, antiphony, art song, aubade, ballad, ballade, ballata, barcarole, bark, bawl, bellow, bis, blare, blat, blubber, blues, blues song, boat song, bob, boom, bray, breathe, bridal hymn, brindisi, burden, buzz, cackle, calypso, canso, canticle, canzone, canzonet, canzonetta, carol, cavatina, chanson, chantey, chirp, chirrup, choir, chorale, chorus, coo, croon, croon song, crow, descant, dirge, ditto, ditty, do-re-mi, doxology, drawl, drinking song, epithalamium, exclaim, flute, folk song, gasp, growl, grunt, hallelujah, hiss, hosanna, hum, hymeneal, hymn, hymn of praise, hymnody, hymnography, hymnology, intonate, intone, keen, laud, lay, lied, lilt, love song, love-lilt, mantra, matin, minstrel, minstrel song, minstrelsy, monody, motet, mumble, murmur, mutter, national anthem, offertory, offertory sentence, paean, pant, pipe, prothalamium, psalm, psalmody, quaver, refrain, repeat, repetend, report, response, responsory, ritornello, roar, roulade, rumble, scream, screech, serena, serenade, serenata, shake, shriek, sibilate, sigh, sing, sing in chorus, singsong, snap, snarl, snort, sob, sol-fa, solmizate, song, squall, squawk, squeal, theme song, thunder, torch song, tremolo, trill, troll, trumpet, tune, twang, tweedle, tweedledee, twit, twitter, undersong, versicle, vocalize, wail, war song, warble, wedding song, whine, whisper, whistle, yap, yawp, yell, yelp, yodel
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