(b Saginaw, MI, 13 May 1950). American singer, songwriter, keyboard player, harmonica player and drummer. Blind shortly after birth due to receiving too much oxygen from an incubator, he was brought to the attention of Berry Gordy, the owner of Motown Records who signed him to Tamla records (a subsidiary of Motown), at the age of ten. Wonder displayed his prodigious abilities as a multi-instrumentalist and singer from the start of his career, and had a major hit with the live recording, Fingertips, Pt. 2 (1963) at the age of 13. He did not repeat the success until he emerged from adolescence with Uptight (1966), which featured the manic vocal intensity over a driving dance track that was to become a trademark in other hits from the period 1966–70, including I was made to love her (1967), For Once in my Life (1968) and Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours (1970). Although Wonder's music is generally divided into a stylistically narrow, pre-1971 period and an eclectic post-1971 period, his earlier recordings featured a broader stylistic palette than the majority of Motown artists: he sang melodic ballads with sophisticated harmony, such as My Cherie Amour (1969), and protest songs including Bob Dylan's Blowin' in the Wind (1966). This variety only hinted at the transformation in style that occurred when, in 1971, Wonder signed a new contract with Motown giving him vastly increased artistic autonomy. On the albums that followed – Where I'm Coming From (1971), Music of My Mind and Talking Book (both 1972), Innervisions (1973), Fulfillingness' First Finale (1974) and the double album Songs in the Key of Life (1976) – Wonder forged a style from elements of soul, funk, reggae, older Tin Pan Alley-style pop, experimental electronic music and African and Latin American rhythms (see illustration). These albums, which were among the first concept albums by a black artist, displayed an increased social awareness and utopianism in the lyrics, and an increased instrumental experimentalism: his use of the ARP and Moog synthesizers and the clavinet was particularly innovatory, as he introduced many new timbres and techniques to popular music.
After the artistic and commercial efflorescence of the period 1971–6, Wonder's productivity slowed. His next album, Journey through the Secret Life of Plants (1979) was a soundtrack for a film that was never released. The predominantly instrumental, subdued sound represented a departure for Wonder, and the record was unsuccessful commercially. Recordings in the 1980s returned to the sound of his mid-1970s work and included collaborations with Paul McCartney (Ebony and Ivory), Michael Jackson (Get It) and Julio Iglesias (My Love), and his biggest hit, I just called to say I love you (1984, from the soundtrack of The Woman in Red). His social consciousness found expression in songs such as Birthday (1980), which advocated a holiday in honour of Martin Luther King (granted on 15 January 1986), and in other efforts supporting anti-apartheid and fundraising for AIDS research, blind and retarded children and the homeless. He has continued to record and collaborate with a wide range of musicians and artists, including the film director Spike Lee (Jungle Fever, 1991) and Kenneth ‘Babyface’ Edmonds, How Come How Long (1997).
J.Rockwell: ‘Stevie Wonder’, The Rolling Stone Illustrated History of Rock & Roll, ed. A. DeCurtis and others (New York, 1976, 3/1992), 293–8
(fl 1540–60). German music editor. He was the son of Dr Johannes Romanus Wonnecker (or Wonegker) from Hanau, who in 1522 was rector of the University of Basle and opposed its acceptance of Lutheranism. When Wonnecker's widow married (c1540) the renowned Swiss musical humanist Heinrich Glarean, Johannes Ludwig Wonnegger became Glarean's stepson. Wonnegger was later a lecturer at the University of Freiburg, but is best known as the editor of Glarean's Musicae epitome (Basle, 1557, 2/1559) and its German translation, Uss Glareani Musick ein Usszug (Basle, 1557). The aim of the treatises, according to Wonnegger's preface, was to popularize Glarean's theory of 12 modes by offering modestly priced editions to the general public. Musicae epitome is a concise, 151-page abridgment of the voluminous Dodecachordon. In book 1 brief plainsong examples illustrate each mode. Book 2, on mensural music, contains nine short polyphonic pieces which demonstrate proportions and other mensural procedures; seven of these compositions come from the Dodecachordon. Certain explanations in Musica epitome, particularly those related to tactus, are clearer and more detailed than those in the larger work. New pieces in the Latin and German editions of Wonnegger include an Agnus Dei for three voices by Johannes Wannenmacher, a Swiss composer and friend of Glarean. Another friend and former pupil, Homer Herpol, contributed the three-voice motet Quia fecit to the German edition. Wonnegger's role in both editions was mostly editorial; his remarks in the preface on the unfortunate expulsion of plainsong from church services clearly reflect the opinion of Glarean.
CLEMENT A. MILLER
(b Northboro [now in Northborough], MA, 30 July 1752; d Northboro, 6 Aug 1804). American composer and tune book compiler. He worked as a fuller of cloth, served as tax assessor and captain of a militia company, and led a choir in Northboro. He was a drummer and later a member of the Committee of Correspondence during the Revolution; several of his compositions relate to that conflict. The stirring Warren, an elegy for the patriot Joseph Warren, is one of 27 pieces by Wood in his and Joseph Stone’s The Columbian Harmony (Boston, ). A Hymn on Peace, published independently in 1784, was sold by William Billings, among others. The Funeral Elegy on the Death of General George Washington (Boston, 1800), also issued separately, was adapted and sung after the death of President W.H. Harrison in 1841. Wood compiled one tune book on his own, Divine Songs (Boston, 1789), containing 11 settings of poems by the English hymnodist Joseph Hart. A manuscript book, probably compiled by Wood, is owned by the Northborough Historical Society; it contains 55 of his compositions (several dated 1775), of which 26 were never published. His remaining known pieces include the secular Ode to Spring (published in the Massachusetts Magazine, May 1789). Wood’s importance derives from his early prominence in his generation, the popularity of his fuging tune Worcester (reprinted 61 times before 1811), and the eloquence and nobility of his best compositions.
F.J.Metcalf: American Writers and Compilers of Sacred Music (New York, 1925/R), 85–7
K.Kroeger, ed.: Abraham Wood: the Collected Works, Music of the New American Nation, vi (New York and London, 1996)