canzone or canzona, in music, a type of instrumental music in Italy in the 16th and 17th cent. The term had previously been given to strophic songs for five or six voices; usually the canzone had three sections. The instrumental canzone was written in imitation of lute or keyboard transcriptions of French chansons, whose brief imitative sections became characteristic of the genre. Frescobaldi used it in a series of fugal sections, each a rhythmic variation of the same theme. The thematic unity of his example was adopted by Froberger and other German composers, and this development led to the fugue. The canzone for instrumental ensemble became, in the hands of Giovanni Gabrieli and his followers, a structure consisting of sections of imitation in duple meter alternating with passages in triple meter.
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