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ricercare (ricercar, ricercata) (It., Eng. ‘research’, Fr. ‘recherché’). To seek out. As noun, applied musically in 16th to 18th cents. to (a) an elaborate contrapuntal instr. comp. in fugal or canonic style (a famous example being that by Bach in Das musikalische Opfer), and (b) more loosely to any type of prelude (usually contrapuntal in style).