Reference Entry

Fanfare

Edward H. Tarr

in Oxford Music Online

Published in print January 2001 |
Published online January 2001 | e-ISBN: 9781561592630 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.09285

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(Fr. fanfare; Ger. Fanfare; It. fanfara)

(1) A flourish of trumpets or other brass instruments, often with percussion, for ceremonial purposes. Fanfares are distinct from military signals in usage and character. In addition to its musical meaning, ‘fanfare’ has always had a figurative meaning. The root, fanfa (‘vaunting’), goes back to late 15th-century Spanish. Although etymologists believe the word to be onomatopoeic, it may in fact be derived from the Arabic anfár (‘trumpets’). The word ‘fanfare’ occurs for the first time in French in 1546 and in English in 1605, in both instances figuratively; it was first used to signify a trumpet flourish by Walther, although it may have been used earlier to mean a hunting signal: See (3) below.

Walther, Altenburg and an anonymous 18th-century author belonging to the Prüfende Gesellschaft in Halle all agreed that a fanfare was ‘usable on all days of celebration and state occasions’ and consisted of ‘a mixture of arpeggios and runs’ improvised by trumpeters and kettledrummers (J.E. Altenburg, 91); a ‘flourish’ in the British Army during the same period was ‘without any set rule’. Heyde has shown that this type of unreflective improvisation, the purpose of which was to glorify a sovereign, goes back to trumpeters’ ...

Reference Entry.  694 words. 

Subjects: Musical Form ; Music

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