Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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(753 words)

1. Term

Improvisation (from the Latin improvisus, “unforeseen”; ex improvisio, “without preparation”) in music denotes simultaneous invention and realization in sound. Already occasionally used in medieval music theory, the term was included in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s 1768 Dictionnaire de musique. However, it seems to have prevailed over other terms, such as “impromptu”, “fantasia”, “extemporization,” or “preludization,” only around the middle of the 19th century.

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Möller, Hartmut, “Improvisation”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 26 September 2023 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_COM_021285>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20180915

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