Milán's El maestro (1536/R; ed. C. Jacobs, 1971), the earliest of the printed vihuela books, includes 40 fantasias, reflecting Italian influence (as do his pavans and sonnets). The more elaborate of them combine imitation, light motivic counterpoint, plain and embellished chordal writing, runs and triple-time sections; several fall into a category that Milán called fantasias de tentos, designed to ‘try the vihuela’ and consisting of consonancias (chordal passages, to be played broadly) intermingled with redobles (running passages, to be played quickly). This is courtly music, but presented with didactic intent; Milán progressed from simple to more advanced pieces, providing notes on mode and tempo, as ‘a master would with a pupil’.
A similar instructional approach is found in other Spanish fantasias. One book of Narváez's Libros del Delphin (1538) is devoted to ‘fantasias in various modes which are not so hard to play as those of the first book’ (MME, iii, 1945/R). As might be expected from a transcriber of Josquin and Gombert, Narváez's fantasias make wider use of imitation than Milán's, and less of chordal and scalic writing. There are points of structural interest, such as recurrence of an initial subject or repetition of a concluding passage. Mudarra, too, occasionally based a fantasia on one theme, denoted in solmization syllables; his Tres libros (1546) include 23 fantasias for vihuela and four for guitar (MME, vii, 1949), some being described as ‘easy’ or ‘to exercise the hands’. Particularly interesting is a burlesque fantasia for vihuela ‘which imitates the harp in the style of Ludovico’ (a reference to a former harpist to King Ferdinand II of Aragon). Several fantasias in the second book are preceded by a short tiento.
Valderrábano's Silva de Sirenas (1547) devoted one book to fantasias, beginning with those of the ‘first grade’ of difficulty (MME, xxii–xxiii, 1965). Valderrábano distinguished between free (‘sueltas’) and parody (‘acomposturadas’) fantasias; about half the 33 pieces belong to the latter type. They include one ‘imitating in some passages’ extracts from Gombert’s motet Aspice Domine, another ‘imitating from the middle onwards’ the Benedictus of Mouton's Mass Tua est potentia. There are also fantasias modelled upon other fantasias, such as one ‘imitating another by Francesco da Milano’ (‘contrahecha a otra de Francisco milanes’).
Pisador's Libro de música (1552) includes, besides two fantasias ‘for beginners’, 24 ‘fantasias in all the modes upon points of imitation, of three and four parts’. A curious feature of the first 12 is the depicting in red of notes to be sung, with solmization syllables printed underneath; Pisador suggested that this use of the voice ‘will be a very agreeable thing for the person who plays and sings them’. Fantasias are prominent in Fuenllana's Orphénica lyra (1554; ed. C. Jacobs, 1979). In one section, transcriptions from Morales's masses are each followed by a related fantasia, designed so as to ‘satisfy the ear and improve the hands’ of beginners unready to master the transcriptions. In another, intabulations of motets by ‘famous authors’ are similarly paired with fantasias, graded as ‘difficult’ or ‘easy’ and intended to be ‘of benefit for exercising the hands and playing with a good air’. The final section has fantasias for five-course vihuela and four-course guitar as well as for the six-course instrument. The last vihuela book of the century, Daza's El Parnasso (1576; RRMR, liv, 1982), also devotes a section to fantasias, some of which contain ‘passages for exercising the hands’. Like Pisador, Daza allowed for vocal participation by the player: one part is picked out ‘with little dots, so that those who wish can sing it’.
The term ‘tiento’ (rather than fantasia) was preferred by such Spanish organists as Cabezón and Pedro Vila; but Venegas de Henestrosa's Libro de cifra nueva (1557) includes keyboard fantasias adapted from the vihuela books of Narváez, Mudarra and Valderrábano (MME, ii, 1944). In 1565 Tomás de Santa María published his treatise Arte de tañer fantasia (‘the art of fantasia playing, on keyboard, vihuela, or any instrument’); it deals with various matters relating to instrumental improvisation, including imitative counterpoint, from which ‘may be drawn great fruit and profit for the fantasia’. In Trattado de glosas (1553) Diego Ortiz distinguished three manners of improvising on the viol with harpsichord accompaniment:
The first is fantasia; the second, upon a cantus firmus; the third, upon some composition. I cannot give an example of fantasia, since each plays it in his own style, but I shall say what is requisite in playing it. The fantasia that the harpsichord plays should be well-ordered chords, and the viol should enter with elegant passages …. Some points of imitation may be played, one player waiting on the other in the way that polyphony is sung.
Fantasia, §1: To 1700
The lute fantasia was transplanted to France in the second quarter of the 16th century, particularly through Alberto da Ripa (Albert de Rippe), who went from Italy to the court of François I. None of his work was printed in France during his life; but between 1552 and 1558 some 20 of his fantasies for lute, and two for guitar, were published in Paris (CM, Corpus des luthistes français, 1972). Earlier, fantasias had been published at Lyons by the Venetian Bianchini (Blanchin) and the Milanese Paladino (Paladin). Paladin's Premier livre (1553, 2/1560) includes ten, four being parodies upon madrigals (Arcadelt) or motets (Claudin de Sermisy, Jacotin).
The first French composers to publish fantasias were Ripa's pupil Guillaume Morlaye, in tablatures for lute and guitar (1550–58; CM, Corpus des luthistes français, 1980); Grégoire Brayssing, whose guitar book (1553) includes six, one being headed ‘des Grues’; Julien Belin (1556); and Adrian Le Roy, in lute and guitar books of 1551. Le Roy's two lute fantasies (CM, Corpus des luthistes français, 1960) are exuberant pieces, in which passages of imitative texture give way to runs and style brisé. Later in the century, the fantasia was cultivated by Jakub Reys (Jacques le Polonois), lutenist to the French court, and some native composers. Antoine Francisque's Le trésor d’Orphée (1600) has two fantaisies, rather like elaborate préludes. J.-B. Besard's Thesaurus harmonicus (1603), which devotes its liber secundus to fantasias, includes examples by the Frenchmen Edinthon (CM, Corpus des luthistes français, 1974) and Bocquet, as well as by masters such as Lorenzini, Bakfark, Długoraj, Dowland and Reys; but Besard's own contributions to the genre are confined to a Lachrimae fantasia in pavane form (evidently inspired by Dowland) and diminutiones upon this and a Długoraj fantasia (CM, Corpus des luthistes français, 1969). The fantaisie for lute fell out of use in 17th-century France; there is one example in Denis Gaultier's Livre de tablature.
According to descriptions, Brayssingar's Tablature d'épinette (1536) included fantasias; and fantasies were listed on the title-page of another Tabulature d'espinette published at Lyons in 1560; both works are lost. There survives a Fantasie sus orgue ou espinette of Costeley (F-Pn fr.9152); and a four-part parody fantasia on Rore's Ancor che col partire by Henri III's organist Nicolas de La Grotte (A-Wn 10110) is probably intended for keyboard. It is clear that fantasias printed in early 17th-century partbooks might also be played at the keyboard (Guillet spoke of aiding ‘those learning the organ’). The fantaisie of the Notre-Dame organist Racquet (ed. F. Raugel, Les maîtres français de l'orgue, Paris, 1951), which treats its subject sectionally in the manner of Sweelinck, and the recently discovered organ fantasias of Louis Couperin (ed. G. Oldham, forthcoming) are the chief survivors of what was evidently an ecclesiastical repertory of some splendour. Of Couperin's organ pieces 26 are entitled ‘fantaisie’. A few have a soloistic bass line for trompette or cromorne, but most (such as the Fantaisie sur la Tierce du Grand Clavier avec le Tremblant lent) are fugues; there is also a Duretez fantaisie (fantasia di durezze) dated 1650, full of searching suspended discords.
The extant repertory for ensemble is more substantial. In Musique de joye, Moderne's collection for singing or ‘playing on spinets, violins or flutes’, the phrase ‘Phantaisies Instrumentales’ was given to a group of recercari by Willaert, Julio Segni and others, drawn mainly from Musica nova (RISM 154022; MRM, i, 1964). The name ‘fantasies’ is also given to Lassus's textless two-part Cantiones in the Paris edition of 1578. Fantasias from the late 16th and early 17th centuries include three by Claude Le Jeune (two in four parts, and one in five that parodies Josquin's Benedicta es); these were printed posthumously in his second book of Meslanges (1612). The fantasias of Du Caurroy, another member of the chambre du roi, also appeared posthumously in partbook format (1610, ed. P. Pidoux, 1975); of the 42 pieces, in three to six parts, just under half are based on a freely invented subject. 15 (styled ‘Fantasie sur … ’) have a cantus firmus (generally a liturgical chant, but occasionally a French psalm or popular tune), with points of imitation derived from the given melody; those on Coeco clauditur and Alloquio privaturform a pair, and there is a suite of five fantasies (starting in three parts and ending in five) on Une jeune fillette. Seven (styled ‘Fantasie à l’imitation de … ’) treat a liturgical melody in paraphrase fashion. One derives its subject matter from the rising and falling hexachord. Also in 1610 appeared a set of 24 Fantaisies by Charles Guillet ‘in four parts, set out according to the order of the 12 modes’, each based on a principal subject (MMBel, iv, 1938); despite their didactic air, Baron de Surgères is said to have listened to them enthusiastically. Mauduit is stated by Mersenne to have written fantasias, but none survives. Evidence suggests that such fantasias as these may have been performed by viols with keyboard accompaniment.
Mersenne (MersenneHU) quoted a short phantasie for ‘les Cornets’ and another (more properly a pavane) for ‘les Violons’ by Henri Le Jeune, and a four-part Fantaisie en faveur de la quarte of De Cousu, as well as an English example from Alfonso Ferrabosco (ii). In general the ensemble fantasias of the mid-17th century tend to shun severity and take on the melodiousness of the court air. Etienne Moulinié’s fifth book of Airs de cour (1639) includes three four-part fantaisies for viols; Nicolas Métru’s 36 Fantaisies à deux parties, pour les violles (1642) are marked by dancing counterpoint, generally ending with a reprise of the opening strain. By Louis Couperin there survive two fantaisies a 5 for a consort of shawms (‘sur le Jeu des Haubois’) dating from 1654, and two more, presumably for viols, composed in 1654–5 (G. Oldham, 1960); there are also keyboard scores for two courtly Fantaisies pour les violes by him (in F-Pc Rés. Vm7 674–5, ed. D. Moroney, 1985). The polyphonic fantasia was largely forgotten in France by the end of the 17th century, but the name survived to describe pieces in which ‘the composer does not tie himself to a fixed scheme, or a particular kind of metre’ (Brossard, 1705). Examples (including a canonic Fantaisie en echo) occur in Marin Marais' Pièces à 1 & 2 violes (1686; ed. J. Hsu, 1980).