The canzona is an Italian musical form derived from the Franco-Flemish and Parisian chansons (Caldwell 2001), and during Giovanni Gabrieli's lifetime was frequently spelled canzona, though both earlier and later the singular was spelled either canzon or canzone with the plural canzoni. The use of canzone as the plural is sometimes found in Italian, but is not common. English (and often German) uses the form canzona, with canzonas as the plural (Caldwell 2001).
The canzona is an instrumental musical form that differs from the similar forms of ricercare and fantasia in its livelier, markedly rhythmic material and separation into distinct sections (Grout 1960, 299). At first based on the Franco-Flemish polyphonic songs (chansons) that gave it its name, the instrumental canzona was soon independently composed, not least by Gabrieli in his brass canzonas and by Girolamo Frescobaldi in his keyboard canzonas. As a form, the canzona would influence the fugue, and the ensemble canzonas were the direct ancestors of the 17th-century sonata da chiesa (Grout 1960, 252).