Date of this Version
Published in Medieval England: An Encyclopedia, ed. Paul Szarmach, M. Teresa Tavormina, Joel T. Rosenthal, Catherine E. Karkov, Peter M. Lefferts, & Elizabeth Parker McLachlan (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), p. 289.
A distinctive English musical technique in which a simple form of three-voice polyphony is created by the addition of two extemporized voices to a preexistent plainsong. The term may also refer to the whole complex of voices, or simply to the faburden proper, the lowest voice, from which the technique takes its name. In this technique the plainsong voice, or mean (because musically it is in the middle), is doubled at the fourth above by the treble. The bass part, or faburden, proceeds mainly at the third below the chant, singing a fifth beneath at the beginning and end, and at the ends of words. Harmonically speaking, the result is a chain of parallel 6/3 sonorities, bounded and inflected by 8/5 sonorities. Continental "fauxbourdon" derives philologically and in terms of sonorous ideal (though not in the details of practice) from English faburden.