Background Information
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Additional Information

Scores: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Other Vocal BWV 1081-1127, BWV Anh | Instrumental | Chorale Melodies | Sources
Discussions: Scores of Bach Cantatas: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Bach’s Manuscripts: | Part 1 | Part 2 | Scoring of Bach's Vocal Works
Scoring Tables of Bach Cantatas: Sorted by BWV Number | Sorted by Voice | Abbreviations | Search Works/Movements


Multi-Index of Movements of Cantatas of J.S. Bach
(attributes, borrowings, forms, appraisals & feelings)


1. About the Multi-Index
2. About the Signs of Borrowing Melodies
3. About the Signs tf Musical Forms and Styles
4. About the Signs of Sense Perception of Music
5. About Construction of the Concerts
6. Abbreviations

1. About the Multi-Index

Purpose of the multi-index is navigation and selection of movements of cantatas on various features-themes for listening and cognitive objectives. Even A. Schweitzer noted "it is not a crime" (against Bach) and the artistic value of the construction of concerts from separate choruses and solos of cantatas of the same internal spirit (Vol. II, pp 463-464).

The invention long play recording media (LP) in the late 1940s was the technical revolution in the popularization of Bach's music. Performers got the opportunity demonstrate and distribute their mastery, understanding and expression. Listeners receive access to music unlimited in time and in place, their number has increased many times.

Computer and internet may be considered as the second revolution, which allowed to delve into the music universe of Bach and to travel on it. Unlimited access to a significant part of the accumulated array of outstanding recordings of works of Bach and computer capabilities selection, search movements for listening and compiling playlists lacked until recently.

The multi-index is the Excel spreadsheet, where in 1808 musical numbers from the 255 fully or partially surviving cantatas are characterized by various characteristics:

1) attributes - registration features the available in the majority of published sources (numbers, names, authors of texts, dating, religious feasts, readings, etc.) - 12 columns of the table;
2) features characterizing borrowing tunes - 8 column (highlighted in blue);
3) characteristics of musical forms and styles of movements - 5 columns (marked in yellow);
4) signs of sense perceptions of music - 12 columns (green).

Table comprising:

       - lines with signs cantatas;
       - rows to all movements of cantatas;
       - rows to all movements of works of other genres involved in borrowing tunes.

A special place is occupied by Chorale melodies. They are indicated use in cantatas and all other Bach works.

The selection rows of interest by any attribute, or simultaneously by several attributes, is produced by Excel filters attached to each column-basis. Filters have broad search capabilities - search rows on a simple coincidence in them the desired characteristic value or the cell color, select partial matches - contains ..., begins with ..., ends at ..., etc. The resulting selection list can be sorted by values of one or more columns.

Applying filters obtained lists of movements for musical travels or cognitive purposes. These may be the most sensual or popular movements, vocal voices and obligate instruments of arias and chorales, the musical form of arias, dance rhythms, certain chorals and forms of choral treatments, ranks melodies borrowing, religious themes and feasts, and so on. You can get any of the 14 indexes of Neumann's handbook and lists on the classification adopted in the content of the book N. Carrell.

If necessary, additional information can be fixed by adding new columns and installation of hyperlinks to other materials - texts, music, audio files, etc...


2. About the Signs of Borrowing Melodies

From 1808 movements of cantatas (or from 1280 if without taking into account simple recitatives) 641 contains a number of borrowed melodies, including 380 movements used 101 choral melody.

173 movements of cantatas, on the contrary, are borrowed to 157 movements in other cantatas and to 52 movements of works of other genres.

In borrowing the main flow is formed from choral melodies as a kind of musical Old Testament
of the Baroque period. The second stream is a parody of secular cantatas (59 movements) to the sacred cantatas (43 movements) and to the Passions and Oratorios (34 movements). The third group is the other various borrowings. All of this multi-dimensional circulation of melodies reminds the parallel passages of the Bible, often it would like to see the believing (by Kantor of the St. Thomas's School) in the divinity musical ideas in their reflections aesthetically unexplained (eg, BWV 102/1 and BWV 235 /1, BWV 72/1 and BWV 235 /2).

Signs-columns about borrowings characterize input (Musical substance borrowed, Genre borrowed) or output (MVT borrowed to) of movements, possible serial time borrowing number (Sequence No to borrow), quantitative estimates of the input and output of cantatas (Work input from / to, Work output of / in).

The following sources of information about borrowings are used:

Bach Werke Verzeichnis. Kleine Ausgabe ( BWV 2a). Breitkopf & Härtel (1998);
Norman Carrell - Bach the Borrower. George Allen & Unwin; (1967);
Werner Neumann - Handbuch der Kantaten Johann Sebastian Bachs. Wiesbaden, Breitkopf & Hartel (1971
Charles Sanford Terry - Bach’s Chorals, Part 2. The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the Cantatas and Motetts. Cambridge: at the University Press (1917);
Charles Sanford Terry - Bach’s Chorals, Part 1. The Hymns and Hymn Melodies of the “Passions” and Oratorios. Cambridge: at the University Press (1915);
William G. Whittaker - Cantatas of Johann Sebastian Bach: Sacred and Secular. vol. 1, vol. 2. Oxford University Press (1978).


3. About the Signs tf Musical Forms and Styles

For the movements are:

- not entirely coinciding forms of chorale treatments in 380 movements by C.S. Terry (12 Choral forms) and W. Neumann (17 Choralbearbeitungsformen);
- obligatory instruments of 715 arias and duets by W. Neumann, and also 42 chorales with an obligatory instrument by C.S. Terry (MVT obligatory Instr + BC);
- 8 musical forms of 605 arias and duets by W. Neumann (MVT Aria form / ~ satz): Continuo - 89, Streicher - 112, Bläser - 18, Orchester - 105, Trio - 154, Quartett - 101, Quintett - 18, Tanzartiger - 8;
- 10 dance rhythms (MVT Dance Rhithms use, meter) discovered by M. Little and N. Jenne in 168 movements of cantatas: Giga - 51, Minuet - 32, Bouree - 27, Gavotte - 17, Sarabande - 16, Courante - 7 , Polonaise - 6, Siciliane - 6, Loure - 4, Passepied - 2. These rhythms are present in the 116 arias, 39 choirs and 7 chorales.

Besides the aforementioned sources used information from work:
Meredith Little, Natalie Jenne - Dance and the Music of J. S. Bach: Expanded Edition.
Indiana University Press (2001).


4. About the Signs of Sense Perception of Music

Degree of impact on listeners and performers feelings may be determined already by the popularity of work - for example, by the number of published sound recordings of cantatas, registered on BCW website (Recorded by BCW). The undisputed leader are the two poles of of feelings - BWV 51 and BWV 82, and but a number of no less than striking works is present only in the records of complete sets of cantatas.

Very likely Bach also had favorite works. Some of them may be gauged by the number of known performances (Performed), as well as in presence marking tempo, dynamics and phrasing in scores (Marked), probably intended for repeat performances, and possibly for other musicians.

The richness of feelings of Bach's music expresses by assessments of outstanding performers. " The range of feelings and passions embodied in music is so vast and varied, ... scale of feelings, ... the art of feelings ..." (L. Roizman). "That is not only contains a wonderful flower-feeling! Restraint and solicitude, sacrifice, strength, activity, patience, generosity, conviviality and the omnipotent mind from which, in essence occurs feeling. ... "(F. Busoni). "... each new cantata, each new aria is still an adventure, an exciting discovery for us.. " (Nikolaus Harnoncourt).

The most comprehensive assessment of feelings of cantatas and many movements made by A. Schweitzer (A. Schweitzer - appraisal & feelings). Page numbers are given for the publication of A. & C. Black Ltd, London (1923) for the English translation and of "Классика-XXI» (2004) - for Russian translation.
To approximate evaluate the degree of impact on the senses a special parameter use in the table - the index of feelings (MVT Index feelings), which has three meanings:

Index feelings

Aesthetic assessment

The subject of the feelings (listening and performing)

Assessment of the words of the fathers of the Church


beautiful, interesting

brain (mind, intellect)

contemplation by the mind, conducting himself - St. Isaac the Syrian


wonderful, heart

soul (heart and brain)

heart in a simple feelings of joy and sorrow - archbishop Luke (Voyno-Yasenetsky)


very impressive, divine mystical, amazement

soul in communion with the Spirit of God
The soul feels God

Heart in higher ability to feel God and receive from the world of spirit exogenous spiritual impact of the highest order - archbishop Luke (Voyno-Yasenetsky)

The grace of tears leads to purity of heart - St. Isaac the Syrian

The grounds of application of this index for the evaluation and qualification of the senses in many respects is dictionary used A. Schweitzer (Schweitzer Feelings column):

Index feelings

Aesthetic assessment

Dictionary of A. Schweitzer


beautiful, interesting

Appraisals: beautiful / masterly / the ingenuity of the workmanship

Feelings: interesting / being drawn / representation / characteristic music


wonderful, heart

Appraisals: wonderfully / finest and effective / particularly fine / exceptionally beautiful / delightful / splendid / wonderful / positively blinding radiance / astounding



Heart in joy

pleasure / charming / motive of intimacy / "joy" motive / joyous / exultant joy /


Heart in sorrow

sorrow / grief / lament / sombre / effect of anxiety / impression of horror


very impressive, divine mystical, amazement

Appraisals: very impressive / "passion" rhythm / extremely effective / one of Bach's mightiest pieces / unbearable / spirited / superterrestrial music / masterpiece / very beautiful / we do not know how it could be improved upon / words can give no / exceptional



Contemplation of heavenly mysteries

mystic / immovable faith in the marvel of the sacrament / trembling or shuddering / passionate / to set the heart on fire / transfigured music / the flight of time is suggested /


Divine joy

inexpressible felicity / feeling of joyous serenity / heaven-storming, joyous faith / graceful motion of an almost superterrestial kind / the mystical love-glow / hastening joyously to the "Himmelsparadies" / the rejected one who has now found happiness in God / the "mighty help" /


Divine sorrow

immeasurable yearning for peace and rest / divine home-sickness / laments the despairing soul / the hastening of the soul to withdraw itself from the world / ardent longing / longing for death / depict the horror

Index feelings of the movements of cantatas look like the rating. Although feelings are not comparable in terms of "better or worse" as well as the music of Bach. Feelings equivalent. They are distinguished by reactive substances. Assignment index feelings for movements are so subjective as subjective perception and performance of Bach's music. The subjects of the feelings (listeners and performers) have different life experiences of joys, sufferings and fellowship with God and with Bach. Sum of feelings of the movements indicated for cantatas (CNT Sum of feelings) is not quite the rating also. The sum of the individual feelings does not reflect the multiplicatively (synergetics) of music, declamations, poetry, spiritual drama and religious themes of the movements of a cantata

The indexes proposed in table is more of a reason for assigning its index (MVT My Index), which reflects the status and progress in the development of the personal feelings of Bach. Note, these feelings are very dependent on listening performances and their history and axiology may already be a special subject in Bach-study.

The multi-index does not contain the main thing - the qualifications of the richest world of high, religious feelings expressed in cantatas, which is the liturgical music. Sensations of the Love of God and of God's Providence in the diverse manifestations, awareness of sinfulness and its depth, recognition the temptations and the wiles of the devil in various forms, the joy of a deadly feelings .... Religious feelings is possible clearer understand by the texts of cantatas, on the basis of church feasts and readings. In a bid to experience these feelings and is probably the ultimate meaning of communion with the music of Bach, and in today's time


5. About Construction of the Concerts

Options for selection of movements on the described attributes are determined some or other interests of the listener. Combinations of interest signs and their meanings may be very much. In the nominal mode, Excel filters to several columns are used according to the rule of logic "AND". For complex queries that require the rules of logic "OR", can be performed the coloring of cells for the results of the intermediate stages of selection, and the final selection of relevant rows to produce only has this color.To perform research queries unlimited by complexity is possible do export Excel spreadsheets into a database and use the SQL statement SELECT

Compiled concerts-travels can be:

- cognitive - for example, the chronology of choral treatments of favorite Bach chorales. Thus, the chorale Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten - Who only lets dear God rule (Zahn 2778) used 19 times and served as the theme to the 2 chorale cantatas. For selection you need to the filter of the column Musical substance borrowed specify 2778 and the result of selection sort in increasing Sequence No to borrow column values;
- breathtaking - for example, the most impressive choral fantasies. It is in the filter of the column Choralbearbeitungsformen by W. Neumann set Choralchorsatz, vok. C.f, and the filter of the column Schweitzer feelings - index is equal to 3;
- immersed in contemplation of divine mysteries of voices - for example, the alto, accompanied by a single instrument and basso continuo. The MVT voice column set A, in the column MVT type - the Aria, the column MVT Aria form (~ satz) - Trio, and column MVT Index feelings - an index of 3;
- many others.


6. Abbreviations

o identify instruments and vocal voices are used abbreviations on BCW page:

In addition, the following applies:
CNT - cantata,
MVT - movements of cantatas or others works,
ChM - choral melody,
Zahn - number chorale by Catalog of Johannes Zahn - Die Melodien der deutschen evangelischen Kirchenlieder aus den Quellen geschöpft und mitgeteilt. 6 Bde. Verlag Bertelsmann, Gütersloh (1889–93), New York: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1998. 6 volumes.
As a types of texts notation (CNT text by Whittaker) are used abbreviations:
H - Unaltered Hymn, Hp - Hymn with some verses paraphrased, Hst - Hymn-stanzas,
B - Biblical text, O - Original matter


Prepared by Sergei Toropov (May 2016)

Scores: Main Page | Cantatas BWV 1-50 | Cantatas BWV 51-100 | Cantatas BWV 101-150 | Cantatas BWV 151-200 | Cantatas BWV 201-224 | Other Vocal BWV 225-249 | Chorales BWV 250-438 | Geistliche Lieder BWV 439-507 | AMN BWV 508-524 | Other Vocal BWV 1081-1127, BWV Anh | Instrumental | Chorale Melodies | Sources
Discussions: Scores of Bach Cantatas: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Bach’s Manuscripts: | Part 1 | Part 2 | Scoring of Bach's Vocal Works
Scoring Tables of Bach Cantatas: Sorted by BWV Number | Sorted by Voice | Abbreviations | Search Works/Movements


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Last update: Thursday, June 01, 2017 13:04