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10 - How did Oswald von Wolkenstein make his contrafacta?

from Part II - Improvisation and composition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 July 2015

Anna Maria Busse Berger
Affiliation:
University of California, Davis
Jesse Rodin
Affiliation:
Stanford University, California
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Summary

By the early fourteenth century, at the latest, most of the polyphonic music became the territory of specialists who underwent rigorous training inmensural notation. All fourteenth- and fifteenth-century composers of polyphony were literate, and they knew their mensural notation well. There is one exception, however the last great Minnesinger, Oswald von Wolkenstein. Oswald was born around 1376 and died in 1445 in Meran in South Tyrol. To be sure, it took scholars a long time to identify the models of Oswald's songs. All the same, given that so many of his compositions are contrafacta, one has to ask to what extent Oswald was an original composer of polyphonic music. There is general agreement among Oswald scholars that he was introduced to many of the models from which he made contrafacta at the Councils of Constance and Basel. Oswald's song is completely dominated by the text and the tenor melody.
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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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