Ricercar(e); ricercata; recercada

Italian terms that, during the 16th and 17th centuries, were used for various types of instrumental music that differ considerably in style and purpose.  By far the most important of these is the imitative (countrapuntal) ricercar.  This is, to a certain extent, the instrumental version of the motet.  These could be divided into two categories; the ensemble ricercar and the organ ricercar.

The nonimitative ricercar is quite different from the type above.  In a way, they may be characterized as "studies" in technique and instruction rather than counterpoint.  These were written for lute, organ and viols.