Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Falck, Robert. "Parody and Contrafactum: A Terminological Clarification." The Musical Quarterly 65 (January 1979): 1-21.

The term "parody" has a venerable history, going back to Quintilian's Institutio oratoria where it is defined, in Book VI, as an alteration of the text with the intent to alter its meaning. Beginning in Germany in the late seventeenth century, "parody" was generally applied to the alteration or substitution of a song text, usually from a secular to a sacred sense. French usage of the term, beginning with Henri Estienne (1531-1588), began to carry with it musical implications. This broader French definition was also used to draw attention to the original musical models. Generally speaking, the prepositions "post" and "super" were more commonly applied to the use of a musical, as opposed to a textual, model.

The term "contrafactum" originates in post-Classical Latin and has as its nearest English cognate the word "counterfeit." The word is found as a rubric in the Reformation-era Pfullinger Liederhandschrift. Kurt Hennig, in his 1909 book on these songs, uses the term "contrafactum" to describe the recasting of a secular poem as a sacred one. Friedrich Gennrich, writing a decade later, expanded the word to mean "conscious use of any model," and from this point the meaning has broadened to a general category, of which parody, travesty, and the like are sub-categories.

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