Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/629

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��SONG.

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��Die - so Or - tes Ge le - gen- belt, ob ih

��nen Na bora 8ohn, La - ban, be - kennt licb ?

��Und slo be - krfiff - tig

��Trieb In r etc.

And many an instance may be found in their secular music where the melody includes the name of the poet and the page of the work.

The melodies of the Meistersinger (like those of the Minnesinger) had a close affinity to church music, or rather to the Gregorian Modes. For the most part they were poor and simple, and too devoid of rhythm ever to become really popular. A few however of their songs found sufficient favour to become Volkslieder in the 1 5th and i6th centuries. 1 On the other hand, the Meistersinger themselves sometimes appropriated Volkslieder. Thus Hans Sachs has reproduced the beautiful old Mailied (May-song) in his Fastnachtsspiel ' Der Neydhart mit dem Feyhel,' written Feb. 7, 1562." He calls it a 'Keigen,' or roundelay, and its original date was evidently anterior to the I4th century. In its i6th century form it commences as follows :

�� ��Der Mey e, der Mey e brlngt uns der

��Blum - lelu Til. ich trug etc.

In fine, the Meistersinger cannot be said to have reached a high level of excellence either in poetry or in music, but they undoubtedly exer- cised an important influence on the formation of the Song by the attention they paid to rhyme, and by their numerous inventions of new metri- cal arrangements. And they rendered a still greater service to music when they carried it into every German home and made it a grace and pastime of domestic life.

While more regular and formal varieties of the Song were thus being studied and practised, it had never ceased to issue in its old spontane- ous form of Volkslied from the untutored hearts of a music-loving people. From that source it came in native vigour, unforced and untrammelled. And far more was done for melody and harmony by the obscure authors of Volkslieder than was ever done by Minnesinger or Meistersinger. As Ambros has justly pointed out, the importance

1 According to Bohme, In the Preface to his Altd. Llederbuch,' p. xxlii, the writers of the Volkslieder never signed their names, while the Meistersinger generally Introduced his own name, and very often the date of his composition, into the last rhyme of the poem. A Meisterslnger's song can thus be distinguished from a true Volks- lied. * See Btihme's ' Altd. Liederbuch,' p. SCO.

��of the part played by the Volkslied in the history of the music of Western Europe, was second only to that of the Gregorian Modes. From the Volkslieder, the greatest masters bor- rowed melodies ; and not only did they inge- niously arrange them as polyphonic songs in secular music, but they also made them the foundations of their greatest and most ambitious works; and it is notorious that whole masses and motets were often formed on a Volkslied. 3

Whoever were the authors of the Volkslieder, it was not their habit to write them down : the songs lived on the lips of the people. But happily, even in remote times, there were col- lectors who made it their business to transcribe these popular songs ; and of collections thus made none are more important than the 'Limburg Chronicle' and the 'Locheimer Liederbuch.' The former work consists of Volkslieder which would seem to have been in vogue from 1347 to 1380; while songs of apparently little later date are found in the other collection, which is dated 1452.* The 'Lehrcompendium' of H. de Zeelandia also contains some very fine Volks- lieder of the first half of the isth centuiy. ' Her Conrad ging' is given by Ambros as an example of them, both in its original and modem notation. 5 The subjects of the early Volks- lieder were historical, they were indeed epic poems of many stanzas set to a short melody. 6 But by the time that the Volkslied had attained its meridian splendour, about the beginning of the i6th century, almost every sentiment of the human heart and every occupation of life had its own songs. Students, soldiers, pedlars, apprentices, and other classes, all had their own distinctive songs. The conciseness and pleasant forms of the melody in the Volkslieder were the secret of their universal charm. The music was always better than the words. So loose was the structure of the verse, that syllables without any sense whatever were often inserted to fill up the length of the musical phrase, as in

Dort oben auf dem Berge Dfilpel. dOlpel, dfilpel Da steht ein hohes Hans,

or a sentence was broken off in the middle, or meaningless unds and abers were lavishly in- terspersed. But notwithstanding these laxities of composition, there was a close connection between the words and the melody.

The Volkslied was always in a strophical form, and therein differed from the Sequences [see SEQUENCE] and Proses of the Church, and from the Leichen of the Minnesinger, which had different melodies for each strophe. Another marked feature of the Volkslied was its rhyme. When the final rhyme had been substituted for mere alliteration and assonance, a definite form was imparted to the verse, and its outline was rendered clearer by the melody of the Volkslied,

Ambros, Gesch. der Musik. 11. 276. 4 See ill. S75. 11. 277.

One of the best modern collections of these old Volkslieder Is by B. von Lillencron, published in Leipzig. 1865-9, under the title of 'Die historischen Volkslieder der Deutschen vora 13ten bio 16tea Jihr- j hundert. 1 and containing; many annotations.

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