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Canon can mean:

  • A list of books accepted by an ecclesiastic communion as authoritative or divinely inspired. The term was originally Christian, referring to books declared divinely inspired by the canons of Church councils. The term has however come to be extended to other religions as well with compound scriptures, thus one can speak for instance of the Pali canon in Buddhism. See Biblical canon for a discussion of the Jewish and Christian canons.
  • The Western canon, the body of literature and art which is considered to define Western civilization by widespread consensus. These were the works with which an educated person was expected to be familiar. Increasingly after ca 1970 the idea that any such canon might exist came under attack and was stigmatized as elitist and academic. Those who defended a canon pointed out that the elite canon was generally available to all and was therefore not elitist, and that the word "academic" was merely negative code for "educated." The particularly American controversy was a skirmish in the wider "culture wars."
  • Canon - a contrapuntal composition that employs a melody with one or more imitations of the melody played after a given duration (e.g. quarter rest, one measure, etc.). The initial melody is called the leader, while the imitative melody is called the follower which is played in a different voice. The follower must be created from the leader by being either an exact replication of the rhythms and intervals of the leader, or by one of a number of other transformations. The simplest and most familiar examples are rounds such as Row, Row, Row Your Boat.
  • A set of conventions prescribed as the proper way to paint an icon or a fresco.
  • Did you mean cannon (weapon)?

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