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Analyzing Bach Cantatas by Eric Chafe

By Eric Chafe

Bach's cantatas are one of the optimum achievements of Western musical paintings, but stories of the person cantatas which are either illuminating and distinct are few. during this e-book, famous Bach specialist Eric Chafe combines theological, old, analytical, and interpretive techniques to the cantatas to supply readers and listeners alike the richest attainable adventure of those works. A revered theorist of seventeenth-century tune, Chafe is delicate to the composer's intentions and to the iconic and common characteristics of the track itself.

Concentrating on a small variety of consultant cantatas, quite often from the Leipzig cycles of 1723-24 and 1724-25, and specifically on Cantata seventy seven, Chafe exhibits how Bach strove to reflect either the dogma and the secret of non secular adventure in musical allegory. examining Bach Cantatas deals worthwhile details at the theological relevance of the constitution of the liturgical 12 months for the layout and content material of those works, in addition to a survey of the theories of modality that tell Bach's compositional type. Chafe demonstrates that, whereas Bach definitely hired "pictorialism" and word-painting in his compositions, his approach to writing track used to be a extra complicated amalgam of theological suggestions and track thought. concerning the cantatas as musical allegories that replicate the basic tenets of Lutheran theology as proven in the course of Bach's lifetime, Chafe synthesizes a few key musical and theological principles to light up the basic personality of those nice works.

This designated and insightful publication bargains a vital technique for figuring out one of many significant our bodies of labor within the Western musical canon. it is going to turn out quintessential for all scholars and students of Bach's paintings, musicology, and theological experiences.

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The culture and art of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are permeated by such ideals, which we recognize in the musical attributes of harmonia and the ars perfecta. With the seventeenth century we encounter for the first time in music history an age that preserved the style of the preceding era as a historical phenomenon, the stile antico or prima pratica. 4 The new music of the seventeenth century recognizes in countless ways that the old ideal of perfection has become historical, a lost paradise as it were.

They therefore represented hidden reflections of God in history, prefigurings of the New Testament revelation. Within this scheme the concept of "salvation history" had a place that related to music, in that the harmonic music of the Christian church represented a basic part of God's revelation of His nature and the work of salvation accomplished through Christ. Through music one could confirm the content of scripture, in both its "hidden" and its directly revealed aspects. The major and minor triads represented the divine and the human, respectively, while the minor third within the major triad represented the humanity of Jesus.

In summary, then, "Wachet! betet! betet! " In part 1 Bach represents the believer's progression from the "Agypten dieser Welt" to the "himmlisch Eden" with the aid of the tonal motion from a to G, which culminates in the believer's joyful anticipation of eternal life. In the work as a whole, however, this progression is enclosed within a quasi-symmetrical C major framework centered on the antithesis of destruction and restoration. In "Wachet! " the literal, or descriptive, aspect of the idea of destruction figures much more prominently than in other cantatas, in which the idea of spiritual destruction is closely associated with tribulation and suffering rather than with apocalyptic visions of the end (as in Cantata 21, to be taken up in the following chapter).

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