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Terms & Abbreviations: Terms & Abbreviations with Bach connection | General Abbreviations | Voices & Instruments | Musical Terms | Acronyms of Performers | Abbreviations used for the Chorales | Use of Concerto, J.J. and SDG in Bach's Sacred Works

Technical & Musical Terms & Abbreviations
Part 3: Voices & Instruments

Abbreviation

Full Words

Explanation

Source

S

Soprano

   

A

Alto

   

T

Tenor

   

B

Bass

   

Hp

Cembalo

The Harpsichord, very rarely used by Bach in the Church Cantatas

Robertson

Clar / Cla

Clarino

A High-pitched trumpet

Robertson

Cor / Cor da cacc / Cdc

Corno, corno da caccia

There is consensus of opinion to whether Bach used both these terms indifferently to indicate the Waldhorn, or French horn. C.S. Terry, in his book 'Bach's Orchestra', gives some evidence to the contrary, believing that at one time Bach in his use of these two terms distinguished the mellow tone associated with the Waldhorn from the more trident tone of the Jagdhorn.

Robertson

Cor da tirassi / Cdt

Corno sa tirassi

Terry suggests that this was not a particular instrument but tromba da tirassi (q.v.) with an adapted mouthpiece which produced horn tone

Robertson

Cnt

Cornetto

An antique curved wooden wind instrument with tone which has been likened to that of a well-trained choirster

Robertson

Fag

Fagotto. Bassoon

 

Robertson

Fl

Flute

In Bach’s scores this always indicated the flute à bec or Blockflöte, known in English as the recorder. The fact is often ignored in performance today (non-HIP performances)

Robertson

Fl à bec

Flute à bec

See flute

Robertson

Fl trav / Flt

Transverse flute

This is transverse or horizontal flute we have in modern orchestras

Robertson

Ob d’am / Oda

Oboe d’amore

An instrument with a pitch between the oboe and the oboe da caccia (q.v.)

Robertson

Ob da cacc / Odc

Oboe da caccia

An alto oboe, in tone similar to the so-called cor anglais, the latter word being a corruption of anglé

Robertson

Org

Organ

 

Robertson

Te / Tle

Taille

A tenor oboe

Robertson

Timp

Timpani

 

Robertson

Tr

Tromba (Trumpet)

 

Robertson

Tr da tirassi / Tdt

Tromba da tirassi

A slide trumpet with a mechanizm of a trombone

Robertson

Trb

Trombone

 

Robertson

Vlt

Violetta

Another term for viola

Robertson

Vno

Violone

An octave lower than the viol da gamba. Similar to the double bass

Robertson

Vla / Va

Viola

 

Robertson

Vla d’am / Vda

Viola d’amore

An instrument with six or seven strings an a number of wire strings beneath the fingerboard which vibrate in sympathy

Robertson

Vdg, VdG

Viola da gamba, gamba, or viol

Any of a family of fretted, bowed, stringed instruments in use from the 16th through much of the 18th century. Possessing a clear, cutting and incisive voice (cf. the rich, thick, powerful tone of the cello), the viol (bass) was
emplyed by Bach as as an obbligato instrument in a number of works, including arias in the Passions and several cantatas. Some consider the bass aria 'Komm, Seusses Kreuz' (SMP) to be Bach's most idiomatic writing for the bass viol, with the cello providing a poor substitute

Harvard / Fogliati / Oron

Vln / Vn

Violin

 

Robertson

Vln picc / Vnp

Violino piccolo

Smaller and higher in pitch than the violin

Robertson

V’cello /Vc

Violoncello

 

Robertson

V’cello picc / Vcp

Violoncello piccolo

A five-stringed instrument with a compass between the viola and the violoncello

Robertson

       

The technical terms & abbreviations in this page are mostly compiled from the following sources:
Common – Common use, especially in e-mail correspondence
Alec Robertson's book 'The Church Cantatas of J.S. Bach' (Cassell - London, 1972)
New Harvard Dictionary of Music
Thomas Braatz - Member of the BCML
Frank Fogliati - Member of the BCML
Aryeh Oron - Moderator of the BCML
Johan van Veen - Member of the BCML

Prepared by Aryeh Oron (December 2000 - March 2005)

Terms & Abbreviations: Terms & Abbreviations with Bach connection | General Abbreviations | Voices & Instruments | Musical Terms | Acronyms of Performers | Abbreviations used for the Chorales | Use of Concerto, J.J. and SDG in Bach's Sacred Works

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Last update: ýDecember 7, 2011 ý08:51:30