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date: 25 November 2020

Fantasia (It., Sp., Ger., Eng.; Eng., Fr., Ger. Fantasie; Fr., Ger. Phantasie; Fr. fantaisie, fantasye, phantaisie; Eng., Ger. Phantasia; Ger. Fantasey; Eng. Fancie, fancy, fansye, fantasy, fantazia, fantazie, fantazy, phansie, phantasy, phantazia)locked

  • Christopher D.S. Field,
  • E. Eugene Helm
  •  and William Drabkin

Extract

(It., Sp., Ger., Eng.; Eng., Fr., Ger. Fantasie; Fr., Ger. Phantasie; Fr. fantaisie, fantasye, phantaisie; Eng., Ger. Phantasia; Ger. Fantasey; Eng. Fancie, fancy, fansye, fantasy, fantazia, fantazie, fantazy, phansie, phantasy, phantazia)

A term adopted in the Renaissance for an instrumental composition whose form and invention spring ‘solely from the fantasy and skill of the author who created it’ (Luis de Milán, 1535–6). From the 16th century to the 19th the fantasia tended to retain this subjective licence, and its formal and stylistic characteristics may consequently vary widely from free, improvisatory types to strictly contrapuntal and more or less standard sectional forms.

Christopher D.S. Field

In the general senses of ‘imagination’, ‘product of the imagination’, ‘caprice’, derivatives of the Greek ‘phantasia’ were current in the principal European languages by the late Middle Ages. The term was used as a title in German keyboard manuscripts before 1520, and in printed tablatures originating as far apart as Valencia, Milan, Nuremberg and perhaps Lyons by 1536. Its earliest appearances in a musical context focus on the imaginative musical ‘idea’, however, rather than on a particular compositional genre. A three-part, imitative, textless composition by Josquin is headed ‘Ile fantazies de Joskin’ (...

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