Parody music, or musical parody, involves changing or copying existing (usually well known) musical ideas or lyrics, or copying the peculiar style of a composer or artist, or even a general style of music. Although the intention of a musical parody may be humour (as in burlesque), it is the re-use of music that is the original defining feature.
In music, parody has been used for many different purposes and in various musical contexts: as a serious compositional technique, as an unsophisticated re-use of well known melody to present new words, and as an intentionally humorous, even mocking, reworking of existing musical material, sometimes for satirical effect.
Examples of musical parody with wholly serious intent include parody masses in the 16th century, and, in the 20th century, the use of folk tunes in popular song, and neo-classical works written for the concert hall, drawing on earlier styles. “Parody” in this serious sense continues to be a term in musicological use, existing alongside the more common use of the term to refer to parody for humorous effect by composers from Bach to Sondheim and performers from Spike Jones to “Weird Al” Yankovic.
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