Definition of ricercar in English:


(also ricercare)

Pronunciation /ˌriːtʃəˈkɑː//ˈriːtʃəˌkɑː/


  • An elaborate contrapuntal instrumental composition in fugal or canonic style, typically of the 16th to 18th centuries.

    • ‘Those familiar with the term ‘ricercare’ may wonder why Seeger titled her pieces so, since the ricercare is, generally speaking, a composition with relies heavily on contrapuntal imitation.’
    • ‘And the ricercars, though performed instrumentally here, were actually printed at the end of a volume of madrigals.’
    • ‘In the Mulliner Book the term is applied in this way, and voluntaries there are seen to be a sort of contrapuntal fantasia or ricercar without any cantus firmus.’
    • ‘In the music, a complex web of ricercars, or intricate contrapuntal studies, seems to reflect the labyrinth of Saragossa's subterranean corridors through which the prisoner stumbles.’
    • ‘At this point I compared the structures of Bach's two ricercars with that of Handel's Fuga V.’


From Italian ricercare ‘search out’.