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Continuo in Bach’s Vocal Works
Part 6

Continue from Part 5

F. T. Arnold and Figured Bass

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 27, 2006):
Thanks to everyone who contributed information to my questions regarding figured bass. The F. T. Arnold Volume 1 (The Art of Accompaniment From A Thorough-Bass as practised in the XVIIth and XVIIIth Centuries) arrived today and while I was thinking maybe it might be a small handbook it is a tome. I was delighted with the many examples. I might say I was a bit overwhelmed with all the rules. And my compliments to anyone who can use the system in a concert--what a skill. Thankfully what I do will be in the spirit of an educated hobbyist and generally along the lines of creating something uplifting for my future web site. But now I have a little bible of sorts here that I can use to help my imagination. I feel a little better.

Along with the notes from Brad, Thomas, Julian and Nicholas, and maybe a few others I have something to study for a long time to come. Before seeing this book I sensed there was a reason beginners in these things should seek enlightenment. My own first attempts will be kept a bit simple in filling out the recitatives for taste and reasons of caution, but when I have had a year to digest this book bit by bit I will know more about this subject than I ever imagined existed.

You are all such a resource.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 27, 2006):
< I might say I was a bit overwhelmed with all the rules. And my compliments to anyone who can use the system in a concert--what a skill. Thankfully what I do will be in the spirit of an educated hobbyist and generally along the lines of creating something uplifting for my future web site. But now I have a little bible of sorts here that I can use to help my imagination. >
On the topic of figured bass, three other resources not to miss are:

- CPE Bach's Versuch (understanding complex figures, using good voice-leading and tasteful spacing, occasionally adding bass octaves, etc);

- Quantz's On Playing the Flute (great tips to continuo players on dynamics, steady rhythm, aesthetics, chord spacing, etc);

- Geminiani's brief treatise on the topic of good taste (with a section for continuo players about a century-old practice of adding dissonant passing tones into chords--rather like the way Bach illustrated in the E minor partita BWV 830)

I'm especially intrigued by Quantz's advice that the continuo players are not supposed to follow the soloist into rubato ahead of or behind the beat, but instead to keep the beat basically steady. The continuo should keep a firm beat, other than the occasional ritard that is natural in its own line; and ignore the fact that the soloist is bending the tempo more than that. The steadiness provides a backdrop against which the soloist's flexibility can then stand out with greater relief.

Wise words for those who (from later music) are accustomed to follow and "accompany" the soloist into every little twist and turn of rubato.

I wish we'd hear more of this, in performance of Baroque music: soloists who take more liberty with the meter, and accompanists who let it happen, instead of following the soloist like a faithful spaniel at the heel. I find it inspiring to listen to Bing Crosby and Barbra Streisand (et al) where it does happen: the accompaniment stays steady while the soloist drapes the melody loosely across these beats.

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 27, 2006):
[To Bradley Lehman] Thanks to Brad for his comments on figured bass...

I am lucky enough to have the Quantz volume you mentioned, and when I picked up a flute again after a thirty year absence four or so years ago I decided that with my then busy schedule I would have to retrain myself. I bought this book immediately, and about a month out our church music director hired a small pick-up ensemble that included some members of the Phoenix Symphony. I can't tell you what an inspiration it was to add my small part to this group, and what encouragement these people gave me. So I have referred back to the Quantz treatise various times, and thank you for mentioning it since it is so handy. Now I will look at it again.

Your comments on 'letting it happen' make great sense to me. When I was young and trained to accompany we did 'follow' the soloist. Then, when I took a couple of semesters of piano at ASU the advice of my teachers on that topic (though I very rarely accompany) was to stay with the soloist...so as not to fall behind. The approach in Bach of course is that a terse tempo is maintained as I've heard among my friends here. And that helps the singer. Sopranos (I can say this as I am one) are notorious at times in maintaining the tempo...and technically there is no reason not to manage this aspect of performance. I like to sing Bach because it forces me to pay attention to the music and text and get the emphasis off of myself.

Thanks for all this information. It gives great encouragement to me.

Julian Mincham wrote (June 27, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< I wish we'd hear more of this, in performance of Baroque music: soloists who take more liberty with the meter, and accompanists who let it happen, instead of following the soloist like a faithful spaniel at the heel. I find it inspiring to listen to Bing Crosby and Barbra Streisand (et al) where it does happen: the accompaniment stays steady while the soloist drapes the melody loosely across these beats. >
And indeed very much a characteristic of many great jazz musicians, pulling the beat a little forward or back against the steadiness of the rhythm group. Stravinsky called this 'psychological' and 'ontological' time and it refers to the fact that measured time (as by a clock) may be distorted by the circumstances of our perception of it e.g. 10 minutes waiting for a tooth extraction may seem an eternity but a night at a great party (or concer!) may seem to pass very quickly.

For myself I seem to have come across awareness of this more often with jazz than with 'classical' musos--Berendt, for example, mentions it in the highly readable 'The Jazz Book'.

It's certainly a living issue for performers--and keen listeners.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 27, 2006):
< Your comments on 'letting it happen' make great sense to me. When I was young and trained to accompany we did 'follow' the soloist. Then, when I took a couple of semesters of piano at ASU the advice of my teachers on that topic (though I very rarely accompany) was to stay with the soloist...so as not to fall behind. The approach in Bach of course is that a terse tempo is maintained as I've heard among my friends here. And that helps the singer. >
One of the things I rehearse here (as harpsichord/organ player in solo music) is to practice my left hand accompaniment alone a number of times, keeping it steady...and then later laying in the right hand melody that is considerably off the beat, but still keeping the accomp steady as possible. Two rhythmic profiles going on at once. Melodic rubato ahead of or behind the beat, while time marches on and doesn't "follow" that soloist.

Reputedly this is the way Mozart played, too, and he made some fun of people whose left hand couldn't hold it steady but always succumbed to the right's rubato.

An example is the "O Mensch bewein" chorale prelude I recorded, track #25 at: http://www.last.fm/music/Bradley+Lehman/Playing+from+Bach%27s+fancy
I tried to keep the pedal and left hand basically steady, while the right hand goes more freely ahead or behind. I do more chance-taking in that regard of free-rhythmed melody in live playing, than I did on the recording (where it has to stand up well to repeated listening!).

I believe this is some essence of "Adagio" playing, in the manner that Quantz and others described it. That at-ease (ad-agio) melody spinning out there, spending some of its time ignoring the beat.

Whatever is done, it still has to sound like natural singing, a relaxed and conversational-sounding delivery, and not like any studied mannerism. ACPE Bach wrote, to learn tasteful delivery go listen to really good singers.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 27, 2006):
< And indeed very much a characteristic of many great jazz musicians, pulling the beat a little forward or back against the steadiness of the rhythm group. >
I'd cross out the phrase "great jazz musicians" and simply say "great musicians" there.

It's part of the reason why the best jazz/pop singers are successful at musical communication: if they're off the beat, whether before or behind it, they make their delivery seem purposeful and inevitable, as a necessary liberty that the music itself has demanded.

And the more desynchronized it is, the more the listener has to wait for Nat [King Cole] or Frank [Sinatra] or Barbra [Streisand] or Willie [Nelson] to catch up with the beat (but still sound relaxed in doing so), the more the listener is engaged and kept attentive.

Likewise for instrumental soloists. Classical musicians of the 1920s-50s generally did better at this (or at least more adventurously!) than their later counterparts...taking more freedom to put in a small unwritten melodic slide, or to put a couple of the notes ahead of or behind the beat in some way that sounds purposeful...and that's what made those performances both beautiful and memorable. The deliberate misalignment against a listener's expectations helps the delivery to be more directly communicative, and more spontaneous-sounding.

Julian Mincham wrote (June 27, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
<< And indeed very much a characteristic of many great jazz musicians, pulling the beat a little forward or back against the steadiness of the rhythm group. >>
< I'd cross out the phrase "great jazz musicians" and simply say "great musicians" there. >
I don't argue with this. My point was only that this was originally raised (largely)within a baroque context and I think the process is generally more recognisable to people from the jazz and popular world. I also stand by my point that it tends to be discussed as a part of the interpretive process much more by jazz musicians who will talk of someone being 'on' , 'behind' or 'ahead of' the beat. I don't tend to hear these concepts discussed so much amongst 'classical' musos---in these or any similar terms.

Mind you, it might be the company I keep!

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 27, 2006):
defining the beat...

[To Juliamn Mincham] Yes...it could be that the company you keep is accomplished enough so that discussing the point of the beat might not be relevant. A lot of my time is spent with student teachers and in the university setting, and including the classical musicians. The issue seems to come up in rehearsals or lessons most of all...where the learning process is involved. Maybe it is the SW US factor. At any rate...creating a performance that speaks to the listener and knowing how to get there is what is on my mind at the moment. Thanks for your response.

Julian Mincham wrote (June 27, 2006):
Jean Laaninen wrote:
< Yes...it could be that the company you keep is accomplished enough so that discussing the point of the beat might not be relevant. A lot of my time is spent with student teachers and in the university setting, and including the classical musicians >
A lot of my career has been with students of universities as well. No, my point is that although we hear 'classical' musicians talk of 'rubato' in Chopin performance we don't hear them discussing the finer points of rhythmic extension in the same way or as comprehensively as jazz mucians do.

e.g. Wish I had a dollar for every time I have heard a jazz bass player described as being'on the edge of the beat". Even allowing for differences of terminology i don't hear classical players often talking in these terms. But the concept applies in all styles to a greater or lesser degree.

Jean Laaninen wrote (June 27, 2006):
[To Julian Mincham] ...keeping the beat...

I always have to chuckle when I hear the term 'rubato.' A couple of teachers I had at one point--male, thought it was really a sexy term. I still laugh when I think about the drawn out way they would pronounce it and wink.

You are right...where the effects for jazz are desired in a certain manner, the point of incremental elements can come up. When I was playing jazz improvisations with the contemporary praise band at church I took a lot of liberties...perhaps not really to be considered in optimal taste with my strict liturgical Lutheran background, but I have to laugh when I think back on one evening here. Lutheran's sit pretty still in church, but I got carried away enough with what I was doing so that as people were leaving church I actually saw a couple of folks dancing in the aisles. When I improvise on something I've played a few times I stop watching the music and as we say 'cut loose,' and just keep the key signature in mind...along with some chromatic impulses.

I'm not sure which edge of the beat I was on...but it was working for a few people, and the rest were smiling broadly, as I was also watching them. Had it not been that the commitment to that group was seven and a half to eight hours a week with double rehearsals and a long communion every week I might have stayed more than two years. But the sitting was killing me. So, I do identify with your angle here.

 

Continuo - Current Expertise on Shortened Accompaniment

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 10 - Discussions Part 2

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 1, 2006):
Here is an example of what purports currently to be ‘the gospel truth’ as well as any Anglo-Saxon Bach scholar can summarize this issue regarding the ‘shortened accompaniment in Bach’s sacred ‘secco’ recitatives’. Warning for those not accustomed to seeing wavy or square brackets in the midst of this quoted passage – these are my inserted comments!

>>A third problem in performing Bach's church music concerns German recitative accompanied by organ. Türk,[Daniel Gottlob Türk, 1750-1813- Türk was born the year that Bach died!] a typical organist brought up in the central German tradition, [an unchanging tradition?] writing in 1787, [note carefully the date of this source which is quoted as an authority providing key evidence in this matter!] thought it a special requirement of organists that they play the chords in recitative short, however they were notated; and some theorists [of course, details about these sources are not given and does it really matter with a harpsichord where the sound decay is extremely short?] writing about the harpsichord said the same. This leaves the singer quite free and allows the words to be heard distinctly. [It is not clear whether this idea stems from Türk or from the authors of this article. Many of the solo voices singing Bach's recitatives have limited vocal range and difficulty with the German language - This type of argumentation may help to solve this problem of performance more frequently encountered today with HIP groups. Perhaps this is the reason why this argument, without substantial historical evidence, is repeated by those who blindly support the notion of shortened accompaniment.] Evidence [which evidence states this clearly?] suggests that the practice became increasingly common during the 18th century; some authors recommended that players lift their hands if the sound of the organ became irksome during a long note (Heinichen, 1711; Mattheson, 1731) [if a note got stuck (a cipher) on an organ, wouldn’t you want to lift your hands from the keys too?] and some issued firm directives that the organist should usually play chords short (C.P.E. Bach, 1762; Petri, 1767). [Aha! There do not seem to be any German sources from 1710-1740 that tie in directly with Bach’s performance practices in Leipzig] Nevertheless it is not clear where in J.S. Bach's work recitatives are to be played in this fashion, nor whether the bass line itself should also be cut short. Petri, Schröter, G.P. Telemann and C.P.E. Bach suggested that the bass should be held by the keyboard (perhaps also by the cello) but Türk and others [where are all the others?] did not. [So why not use Telemann, as a true Bach contemporary of similar nationality as a key source and believe what he has to say?] Like Händel in his secular Italian cantatas, J.S. Bach frequently varied recitatives within a work by writing long held notes at some points, short notes (with rests) at others; surely, therefore, the composer did not expect chords in all recitatives to be shortened uniformly. [So does this careful reasoning mean that present HIP continuo players may now decide willy-nilly to play some of Bach’s long notes short but not others? This does not sound like Bach to me!] The practice may have become established in the 1730s, judging by the detached bass notes written in the parts [there is only a single part that shows this and it may have been expressly written by Bach to accommodate some unusual performance conditions which he faced] for the revival of the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) in about 1736; or perhaps the notation merely confirms what had long been customary in practice.[this latter idea takes a real stretch of one’s imagination – why would a single part, among all of the extant continuo parts suddenly contain the Rosetta stone to unlock the mysteries concerning what has been purported to be a very common, pervasive, but unwritten performance practice in the Leipzig churches in the 1720s and 1730s?]<<

Peter Williams, David Ledbetter
Grove Music Online, Oxford University Press, 2006, acc. 6/30/06

Intermittent commentary by Thomas Braatz
For the uninterrupted version of the above:

>>A third problem in performing Bach's church music concerns German recitative accompanied by organ. Türk, a typical organist brought up in the central German tradition, writing in 1787, thought it a special requirement of organists that they play the chords in recitative short, however they were notated; and some theorists writing about the harpsichord said the same This leaves the singer quite free and allows the words to be heard distinctly. Evidence suggests that the practice became increasingly common during the 18th century; some authors recommended that players lift their hands if the sound of the organ became irksome during a long note (Heinichen, 1711; Mattheson, 1731) and some issued firm directives that the organist should usually play chords short (C.P.E. Bach, 1762; Petri, 1767). Nevertheless it is not clear where in J.S. Bach's work recitatives are to be played in this fashion, nor whether the bass line itself should also be cut short. Petri, Schröter, G.P. Telemann and C.P.E. Bach suggested that the bass should be held by the keyboard (perhaps also by the cello) but Türk and others did not. Like Handel in his secular Italian cantatas, J.S. Bach frequently varied recitatives within a work by writing long held notes at some points, short notes (with rests) at others; surely, therefore, the composer did not expect chords in all recitatives to be shortened uniformly. The practice may have become established in the 1730s, judging by the detached bass notes written in the parts for the revival of the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244) in about 1736; or perhaps the notation merely confirms what had long been customary in practice.<<

Eric Bergerud wrote (July 1, 2006):
[To Thomas Braatz] A most interesting citation. But does it not, especially the last paragraph, really suggest the existence of historical inconsistency? Such things exist in every field of history that I know of, including the field that I write and teach. I can't think of any reason musicology would be different. And, if so, it makes the
issue very much fair game for conflicting interpretations that can be held by reasonable people holding a wide range of views.

If the answer to question is clear there will be no controversy in a responsible field. A "young earth" creationist holds that the earth is roughly 5,000 years old. This idea is accepted by no one in any field of science anywhere in the world. A subject like, just to pick a single example, the causes (many or few?) or rate (very fast, fast or not so fast) of global warming has perfectly respectable scientists squabbling and keeping the lights burning long into the night. Or, in the field of history, did Hitler really think that Germany could drive the USSR out of WWII on the eve of his 1943 summer offensive (Operation Citadel) or was it a "spoiling operation?": there is good reason to argue either side based on contemporary data and memoirs.

Ultimately my point is that ambiguity is part of academic life. Things get really fun when the answer is "sometimes" instead of "yes" or "no." Mr. Braatz has his opinions and presents them most cogently. I do believe, however, that the small army of conductors and performers that do not follow strictly a Bach score are doing so simply to amuse themselves or out of ignorance. I also believe that if musicologists had a general agreement on the subject it would show up clearly in performance.

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 1, 2006):
Eric Bergerud wrote:
>>A most interesting citation. But does it not, especially the last paragraph, really suggest the existence of historical inconsistency? Such things exist in every field of history that I know of, including the field that I write and teach. I can't think of any reason musicology would be different. And, if so, it makes the issue very much fair game for conflicting interpretations that can be held by reasonable people holding a wide range of views.<<
My point is that these "conflicting interpretations" could easily and reasonably be resolved if some vociferous experts recognized the fact that, for their differing opinions, they are relying upon historical original sources which come, for the most part, from a different time and in some instances even from a different country (language & culture) than that pertaining to Bach's main creative period for his concerted sacred music. The question that needs to be asked is: "Why do these experts continue to insist upon dragging in these unrelated references which show little or no true connection with Bach's possible performance practices while he was still composing and performing his cantatas, Passions, and oratorios?"

>>If the answer to [a] question is clear there will be no controversy in a responsible field.<<
The answer to this question in musicology is quite clear: contemporaries with close connections to Bach and even speaking for or against his unique style of composition and performance (these two are inseparable) have made it quite clear that Bach endeavored, for the sake of his own honor and prestige as a composer and performer, to present in notated form with meticulous care his own intentions for the performance of his music, notwithstanding the fact that this did encroach upon the freedom often granted to performers (particularly solo performers) elsewhere. Bach felt that the latter effort on his part was necessary (and perhaps it is even more necessary today than it was in his time) in order to convey properly to any audience what his conception of 'good taste' in performance is. From his own experiences with other musicians, Bach knew that there were performers who would prefer to 'get carried away' and lose sight of the goals he had in mind.

>>Ultimately my point is that ambiguity is part of academic life.<<
But to create or add to ambiguity by continuing to quote from primary historical sources that should quickly have been excluded from consideration for various reasons because a firm, reasonable connection cannot be established, is simply evidence of careless, unworthy scholarship or possibly even of a hidden agenda to validate by any means possible (even by obfuscation to deliberately create ambiguity where it need not exist) an existing trend that only began a half century ago and for which insevidence has thus far been presented.

>>I also believe that if musicologists had a general agreement on the subject it would show up clearly in performance.<<
As long as some musicologists insist upon prolonging unnecessarily the ambiguity that has been artificially created, the conductors and continuo group players will flounder about trying to 'outguess' Bach's clearly stated intentions. The listeners to these historically-informed performances will continue to experience the whimsical choices made by performers who are trying to serve two masters: Bach's indications vs. HIP-school doctrines concerning the inscrutably occult performance behavior exhibited by Bach's continuo players. In other words, those listeners following the score of any given Bach 'secco' recitative will hear some long notes correctly held out for their full value, but others shortened radically from what appears in the score.

By correcting the errors made in the past, musicology, in reference to this specific aspect of performance practice, can offer a clearer option, one that affirms Bach's right to reestablish his honor as a composer by having his music performed according to his prescribed wishes. Then the conductors with their continuo groups can once again present a more unified approach, one that will benefit the vocal soloists as well as the listeners.

 

Bach's continuo

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 27, 2006):
< Actually, with the exception of his earlier Keyboard and Organ works, Bach did write out everything he intended. >
Not even close to "everything he intended", but this isn't the place to try to prove it; such debate has already gone on here (and in real academic circles and among serious practitioners) for years.

< And to use figured bass as an example is very detrimental to your argument. In fact, Bach wrote exhaustively about thorough-bass and is believed to be the principal author of Nr. 34 (a thorough explication of the rules of thorough-bass) in the 1725 Klavierbuechlein fuer Anna Magdalena Bach. >
Exhaustively? Not at all. That set of 15 general rules across four small pages, as valuable as it is, is barely enough to get beginners started on the right track of reading the simplest harmonies. And it warns in its last sentence, "The other precautions that must be observed will explain themselves better in oral instruction than in writing."

There's a good facsimile in the back of the Henle edition of Anna Magdalena's notebook, and a translation at pages 390-1 of the old Bach Reader (1966 edition).

If you want exhaustive, look to CPE Bach's book, 1753. He applied his systematic mind from law study to produce hundreds of pages of guidelines and examples.

I could make some further remarks from experience about how difficult Bach's continuo bass lines are to sight-read, and to work up to performance level, but I've said much of that before; and some members here throw practical modern expert experience out the window as inadmissible evidence, anyway! Instead, here's a short quote from the "Continuo" article of the Oxford Composer Companion:

"Bach's continuo parts raise a number of problems besides that of their instrumentation. Although the written parts, including the occasional passage in which the bass line is the sole notated part, are usually harmonically self-sufficient, a correct continuo realization was considered indispensable. Yet the highly contrapuntal, frequently chromatic, dissonant character of Bach's harmony makes his figured basses the most difficult to realize of any Baroque composer, requiring much study before any facility can be achieved. His notation of the figures was usually meticulous, but in works for which his figured bass parts do not survive, including many of the cantatas, players find it necessary to study the score carefully or to employ an editorial realization (such as is included in most performing editions). Special preparation may also be necessary for so-called 'continuo arias', such as 'Geduld, Geduld' in the St Matthew Passion (BWV 244), in which the figured bass is the sole written accompaniment, leaving the continuo realization particularly exposed. Such movements may call for a realization which possesses some independent melodic interest, particularly in the ritornellos." (And three more paragraphs...)

I've already recommended here, several times, some other 20th century articles that go more thoroughly and specifically into continuo for Bach cantatas, and continuo style for organ.

And, all of this is still merely scratching the surface of understanding the composition and preparing an appropriate improvisation, as to the harmonic flow and accentuation. Then there's also the phrasing of the bass line itself, and any assistance the improvised right hand can give to clarifying its shape and expression. There are decisions to be made about how high or low on the keyboard to play, to give appropriate consistency and contrast according to the flow of the composition.

And in real performance there's also the art, moment to moment and different in every single performance, of responding to the performance situation. There is no way to notate this in any score, and yet it's crucial to playing well. This includes helping the other ensemble members to make their own parts sound secure, catching/cueing any tricky spots, and playing neither too loudly or too quietly to balance whatever sounds are happening at each moment, and adding melodic or ornamental bits to enliven the rhythm/accent and to connect the harmonies. If some other musician in the ensemble messes up with extra beats or omitting beats, or is grossly off pitch, the competent continuo player (as sensitive accompanist) can help get things back on track by deciding
instantly what would be most helpful and playing whatever is needed. Or sometimes, it's the continuo player's job to remain the steady timekeeper so that one or more of the other parts can be more free in rhythm, going against the notated meter more expressively. Every situation and every composition have somewhat different requirements. Thorough rehearsal helps.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 28, 2006):
[To Bradley Lehman] The issue was not about how hard it is to sight-read Continuo parts, but that the composer did not write out everything he intended.

 

Pedal & Continuo registrations

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 30, 2006):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Except for the fact (as Leonhardt correctly points out) that there is no indiction for the use of the 16' stops that would indicate use of Organs (as the 16' stop was the fundamental stop for the Pedal-Keys of the Organ). >
What justification does Leonhardt offer that 16' pedal was always used? I can think of one chorale-prelude that asks for 8' and another that asks for only 4'.

(8' or "8 foot" indicates that the bass note sounds at pitch. Thus, if the C below middle C is played, it sounds is written. If a 16' (16 ft) stop is added, the note sounds an octave below, 32' an octave below that. A 4' stop will sound an octave higher at middle C, 2' an octave above that. A Bach organ in full blast can have the bass line played simultaneously at four or more octaves)

This is somewhat akin to the debate that only cellos at 8' should be used in recitatives and the bass with its 16' sound should be restricted to tutti passages of arias and choruses. Perhaps the best example of this is "Ich Will Bei Meinen Jesum" in the SMP (BWV 244) where the Choir I tenor sings his aria usually with just a solo cello (8 foot), while Choir II is accompanied by tutti cellos and basses (8 foot and 16 foot).

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 30, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] That was not Leonhardt's argument (the part about the 16' stops always being used). His argument was just that there was no 16' stop indications in the manuscripts or scores.

The part about the 16' stops always being used as fundamental stops for the Pedal-Keys I got from a former schoolmate of mine that is a practicing Church Organist and schoolteacher. She pointed out to me that when selecting thstops to be used, the first always selected in the Pedal registers is the 16' stops, without which no sound could be made by the Pedal-Keys.

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 30, 2006):
<< Except for the fact (as Leonhardt correctly points out) that there is no indiction for the use of the 16' stops that would indicate use of Organs (as the 16' stop was the fundamental stop for the Pedal-Keys of the Organ).
What justification does Leonhardt offer that 16' pedal was always used? (...) >>
< That was not Leonhardt's argument (the part about the 16' stops always being used). His argument was just that there was no 16' stop indications in the manuscripts or scores. >
No, that's not his argument at all. Leonhardt's essay says nothing one way or another about organ pedals being based generally on 16', or anything about using 16' pitch (or any organ registration whatsoever) to play the Art of Fugue specifically. You've misread ideas that Leonhardt (himself a professional organist) didn't put there; and things you've alleged "Leonhardt correctly points out" are apparently coming from your imagination.... There are not *any* stop indications--16' or otherwise--in the sources of the Art of Fugue.

Leonhardt's remark about the organ is this: "If the work had been thought of as for the organ, then the absence of the pedals (obligato) is rather extraordinary. Bach particularly, to the astonishment of his contemporaries, had cultivated pedal playing to a greater extent than it had ever been presented in any region of Germany before."

Leonhardt's essay was originally printed as a smallish book. It's also reproduced, many years later, in the LP and CD booklet notes of his second recording on harpsichord, the one for Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 30, 2006):
[To Bradley Lehman] And it is in that format (specifically the Vanguard recording he made of Die Kunst der Fuge) that has that statement I alluded to in it. It was his argument that the abscence of the 16' stop indication meant that it (Die Kunst der Fuge) was not intended for organ, but rather for the stringed keyboard instruments.

Raymond Joly wrote (July 30, 2006):
Someone wrote, concerning the manuscripts of THE ART OF THE FUGUE:
"Except for the fact that there is no indication for the use of the 16' stops that would indicate use of Organs".
I am not an organist and I own just three volumes of organ works by Bach (Peters, Bärenreiter). My question: does Bach ANYWHERE prescribe 16' (or any other registration, for that matter, except for "organo pleno" or, when writing on two staves, "manualiter / pedaliter")?

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 30, 2006):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< And it is in that format (specifically the Vanguard recording he made of Die Kunst der Fuge) that has that statement I alluded to in it. It was his argument that the abscence of the 16' stop indication meant that it (Die Kunst der Fuge) was not intended for organ, but rather for the stringed keyboard instruments. >
Sorry, you're still mistaken. I believe I see the root of your confusion, though. I too have the Vanguard set right here (the original LPs, BG-532/33 copyright 1953). Those program notes in there ARE NOT BY LEONHARDT but by an uncredited writer. They do say this, which I believe is confusing you: "The fact that the bass voice sometimes rises above the tenor, with the tenor becoming the real bass, indicates to Mr Leonhardt that the bass part was not meant to be doubled at 16-foot pitch, which would eliminate the organ from consideration."

Now, go look at what Leonhardt really wrote--himself--in his essay. The 1952 book, and/or the booklet notes that are in the later LP and CD sets by Deutsche Harmonia Mundi (and/or Pro Arte). [I've compared the original book against those to be sure they're the same!] Leonhardt's remark about the tenor and bass voices crossing is in context of his discussion of non-keyboard arrangements, people's made-up orchestrations, where it doesn't work to assign a 16-foot instrument to the bass line as the tenor sometimes crosses below it. And, his remarks about organ are as I already quoted to you earlier this afternoon.

Whoever has written those Vanguard liner notes has misrepresented what Leonhardt wrote in his book, by conflating several sections of it into an improper summarization. Not *your* fault, but to be fair to Leonhardt I think it's best to look at what he actually wrote. Leonhardt's essay *does not* put forth any assumption that organ pedals are based on 16-foot pitch.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 30, 2006):
[To Raymond Joly] I am asking that you not take my word for it but toconsult the Peters edition of Bach's Complete Organ Works (you must not have the correct volumes) as wellas the photostats of the original manuscripts or if you happen to be where they are located asked to see them. I own both the Peters edition and the photostatic copies of the original manuscripts in book form (cost a pretty penney)--most of which are located at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio.

Bach, for more than 99.9% of his Organ works, left no registration advice with the exception of some of his Chorales. I do not have these before me as I write as I left them in the Organ Loft. I do not recall that any ask for 16' stops maybe with one or two exceptions. However, they were available and Bach might have used them in a plenum which he does ask for.

If you are doing continuo; 16' even with a mixture can muddy things so it is best to stick with something like a Holflöte 8 alone and perhaps with a 2' flute or some sparkly semblance of that with perhaps a mutation. You can reserve the 16' (in instruments that Bach played this is usually a Principal, Posaune, or Gedack maybe occaisionally a Violone or whatever ranks were being used for the Untersatz for the Plenum in the Choruses. You could also try either a Regal 8' or a Musette or Cromone 8'as a melody line(cantus firmus) with foundations and flutes in the counterpoint.

I noticed that you are in Canada. So Cromone to you probally means an orchestral Clarinet type sound that is typical of French Instruments. That is not the sound that is desired as the Germanic sound only hints at Clarinet in it's sounds.

William Rowland, composer and Organ Consultant.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 31, 2006):
[To Bradley Lehman] Bach, in the Peter's edition of the allegedly Complete Organ works, does not specify the use of 16' stops except as part of the make up of a plenum. For the non- Organist; this usually means a Principal Chorus 16-1' on the manuals (the so-called churchy sound), flutes, mixtures and mutations and no reeds other perhaps than in the Pedal to bring out a cantus firmus. Manuals coupled to the pedals or at least an independent pedal 16' rank such as Posaune, Violon, Principal or Gedackt or whatever ranks make up the Untersatz. Mutations are fractional footage ranks that add sparkle and can create new sounds and an example would be a Septième 1/7th foot meaning that the tallest pipe of this rank is only 1.71 inches(4.3434 cm) high and producing a very high pitched sound and the smallest pipe in this rank would be about the size of a pencil point. The Septième 1/7 can be used to create a sparkling bell like sound when combined with flute ranks

A mixture is a compound rank of various footages and fractional footage ranks such as a 2,1,2 1/3 and 1 1/5 ranks. Such a mixture would be referred to as a V (or 5 rank) mixtures. The Organ originally did not have separate stops and the mixture is a hold over from that era because it functions to clarify any muddy sounds created by having ranks of all one pitch and music that is so thick that it is difficult to hear all that is going on without the mixture.

In the organ---a stop is a sliding device (in Bach's time that is ) that opens and shuts a slide that admits air to a particular rank of pipes. A rank of pipes usually consists of 48-51 pipes (in Bach's day but in more modern times 61 pipes usually) of a particular sound timbre. These pipes sit on a chest into which compressed air is pumped from a bellows (these days this function has been taken over belectric fans and the bellows merely acts as a wind pressure controller). To keep all the pipes of a rank or ranks from sounding at once in a horrendous dissonance; these ranks are further controlled by a pallet, which acts like a door--opening and and shutting off air to the pipes from the chest which in the Organs of Bach's day (called tracker organ) and still today is controlled from the Manuals or a set of keys. In Bach's day most Organs seldom had more than 3 manuals and that is still true today but we find in France Organs, of Bach's time, with as many as 4 and 5 manuals as Dom Bedos de Celles tells and shows us in his Facteur des orgues.(The Art of Organbuilding).

The modern day penchant for making rapid stop changes was not practiced by Organists in Bach's time unless they had assistants to make these changes for them or the instrument was small enough that he could do it himself if the stops were conveniently placed ( more often than not they were not). The number of Maximum ranks that can be controlled by one manual under Dom Bedos's rules is 15 and preferably less since fifteen would or could cause technical difficulties of supplying sufficient air to the pipes and have them speak in tune and not rob each other or air. These days this is no problem with electrically controlled instruments that can control as many as 50 or more ranks in large organs and separate chests and blowers to assure sufficient air. However in the tracker vs electric controversy---with tracker an Organist can control the nuances of how a pipe speaks but in an electically (digitally) controlled Pipe Organ this function is lost---the power merely opens and closes a pallet on demand without any nuances to it.

In continuo work; a 16' stop would seem improper but in his recordings (Die Kantatenwerke); Leonhardt does use those pitches in the use of the Violon (Orchestral predecessor of the Contrabass); however they are at such a soft volume that one has to listen carefully to hear them.

William Rowland,composer and Organ Consultant

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 31, 2006):
[To Ludwig] I would question the use of the Peters edition for anything. The only ones to really be considered are four:

1.) the BGA.

2.) the NBA (that it took them until recently to include BWV 545b, 597, 131a, and 1027a into their scores is beyond me).

3.) the Schweitzer edition.

4.) the Breitkopf und Haertel edition.

The Peters edition was admittedly not at all scholarly. I even remember (where I saw it, I don't remember now) reading that the Pteres edition publishers admitted to using solely 19th century vintage manuscripts and that from England.

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 30, 2006):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] I do not have the Schweitzer before me but if I recall correctly; he has these so marked in his editions in agreement with Peters. Schweitzer was not much of a purist and his recordings of Bach reveal this. I was acquainted with Schweitzer in my younger years when his organ performance was a sad shadow of what it had been. I think that was more due to his lack of practice on a real organ instead of his Piano with pedalboard which he had at his clinic. His perfomance of Mendlesohn however seem to be his last shining beam.

There are errrors in all the editions of Bach with one edition kicking out something because the editor thought it was an error and BGW putting in everything that might have the remotest connection to Bach.

The Peters edition did not originate in England. It originated in Germany during Beethoven's time while some of the last Bach family were still living. It was Mendlesohn who gave Bach the boost that he needed so that we have what we have today. Sadly many of these mss have turned to dust and all that we have are copies. If they did not turn to dust they either burned or were destored as the result of two world wars. However, a Bach scholar was able to preserve most of them and they now rest at Baldwin-Wallace College which is connected to Oberlin Conservatory.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 31, 2006):
Ludwig wrote:
< I do not have the Schweitzer before me but if I recall correctly; he has these so marked in his editions in agreement with Peters. Schweitzer was not much of a purist and his recordings of Bach reveal this. I was acquainted with Schweitzer in my younger years when his organ performance was a sad shadow of what it had been. I think that was more due to his lack of practice on a real organ instead of his Piano with pedalboard which he had at his clinic. His perfomance of Mendlesohn however seem to be his last shining beam. >
Not at all true. Firstly, Schweitzer's edition came out in the 1920s (before Peters), and secondly, he did the first five volumes in association with his teacher Charles-Marie Widor (a pupil of one of Emanuel Bach's pupils), whereas there is no Bach connection for the Peters edition.

< There are errrors in all the editions of Bach with one edition kicking out something because the editor thought it was an error and BGW putting in everything that might have the remotest connection to Bach.
The Peters edition did not originate in England. It originated in Germany during Beethoven's time while some of the last Bach family were still living. It was Mendlesohn who gave Bach the boost that he needed so that we have what we have today. Sadly many of these mss have turned to dust and all that we have are copies. If they did not turn to dust they either burned or were destored as the result of two world wars. However, a Bach scholar was able to preserve most of them and they now rest at Baldwin-Wallace College which is connected to Oberlin Conservatory. >
Again inaccurate. Peters edition originated in the 1930s and 1940s, using 19th century vintage manuscripts. The one that came out in the 19th century that you allude to is no longer in existance, but was the inspiration of the Breitkopf und Haertel edition that started later in the century and was produced alongside the BGA edition. Peters, in fact, did not come into existance until the 1820s or 1830s (after van Beethoven died).

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 30, 2006):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] Then why does Peters say in the 1960s edition of this work that it was begun then by Greikenperl(sp?????can't spell). When G.died circa 1860 the work was taken up by someone else and thence on and on until we get to volume IX and the successive volumes that have come out since 1960.(my set only goes to Vol. IX although I have been intending to add the successive ones just have not gotten around to it), There are worka in the Peters edition that Bach did not write but arranged such as the Vivaldi Concerti. I understand that there are now somewhere between 10-12 volumes which would have been out other than for the interuption of the world wars.

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 30, 2006):
Raymond Joly wrote:
>>My question: does Bach ANYWHERE prescribe 16' (or any other registration, for that matter, except for
"organo pleno" or, when writing on two staves, "manualiter / pedaliter")?<<
From the NBA:
all with 3 staves:
BWV 600 Pedal Trompete 8 Fuß
BWV 645 Pedal 16 Fuß
BWV 646 Ped. 4 Fuß
BWV 647 same
BWV 650 Ped. 4 Fuß
BWV 596 Principal 8'

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 30, 2006):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thank you; I do not have my editions with me but that is the same as in the Peters edition and you have refreshed my memory of these.

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 30, 2006):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks for the list, Thomas, but I think we're getting off topic to talk about the registration of the solo organ works.

Could we perhaps go back to the registration of the organ as both a continuo and obligato instrument in the vocal works? Thomas, you're our resident cataloguer, do you know of a scholarly article which lists the registrations of organ movements in the cantatas?

I think there is a marking for 8-foot in the alternate organ version of the lute part to "Betrachte" in the SJP. I'm particularly interested in any recitative markings. I'm surprised that our list out there seems to think that contemporary continuo realization is a settled question.

Perhaps it'sthe humidity.

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 30, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Could we perhaps go back to the registration of the organ as both a continuo and obligato instrument in the vocal works? do you know of a scholarly article which lists the registrations of organ movements in the cantatas?<<
The NBA KBs would list any such registrations if they appeared in the original set of parts.

>>I think there is a marking for 8-foot in the alternate organ version of the lute part to "Betrachte" in the SJP.<<
This must refer partially to the original continuo part B 22 (not figured) copied by Kuhnau and two other unknown copyists, but which has mvt. 19 ("Betrachte, meine Seel") crossed off several times with the comment "Bleibt Wech" and "ots". "In dem andern Basse".

There is an insertion part B 25 (belonging to the 3rd version of the SJP) which is a replacement part (Bach's own organ transcription of the original lute part) on which he wrote "Arioso Wird auf der Orgel mit 8 und 4 Fus Gedackt gespielet" ("Arioso: this is played on the organ using an 8' and 4' Gedackt stop/registration") This is in Bach's handwriting from his 'late' period, but his notation is from an earlier period. This insert was meant to be included in an organ continuo part which has been lost. The Arioso section has been transposed upward a seventh to Db major, after which "Sequitur Aria" appears showing a key signature of 5 flats and a time signature of 12/8. After this version there is a still later insert, B 26, which has "Cembalo" ("Harpsichord") written on it. Bach's handwriting here is definitely from the late period and appears extremely stiff.

>>I'm particularly interested in any recitative markings. I'm surprised that our list out there seems to think that contemporary continuo realization is a settled question.<<
On p. 121 of Part 2 of Friedrich Erhardt Niedt's "Musicalische Handleitung" (2nd edition, Hamburg, 1721), Niedt states:
"...it would be best that an organist playing the thorough-bass part should pay particular attention to this: If only one or two voices are singing or playing, then he should simply use the Gedackt 8-foot stop on the manual and no pedal at all anywhere else. If more voices need to be accompanied, then he can add in the Pedal the 16-foot Untersatz or Subbass; but wherever there appears in the bass a tenor, alto, or soprano clef, which is otherwise called a “Bassetgen”, then he must omit the pedal und simply play them at the octave where they are written; on the other hand, if a entire choir of 8 to 12 or more voices enters /joins in (which in such a case is usually indicated by the words ‘choir’, ‘tutti’, ‘ripieno’, etc.), then he can pull an 8-foot Principal stop for the manual and add to the Subbass another 8-foot Octava stop in the pedal. If a composition calls for trumpets and timpani, then a 16-foot Posaune can be added to the 8-foot Octava...."

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 30, 2006):
It seems that what I have been saying all along
without reading On p. 121 of Part 2 of Friedrich Erhardt Niedt's "Musicalische Handleitung" (2nd edition, Hamburg,1721), is correct as far as the practice of the day. I owe this knowledge to my College Professors but until know I did not know where they got it from. Thanks.

As for scholarly articles; I suppose one could be found here when I can get over to the University Library and use FIND IT/

Bradley Lehman wrote (July 31, 2006):
>>My question: does Bach ANYWHERE prescribe 16' (or any other registration, for that matter, except for "organo pleno" or, when writing on two staves, "manualiter / pedaliter")?<<
< From the NBA:
all with 3 staves:
BWV 600 Pedal Trompete 8 Fuß
BWV 645 Pedal 16 Fuß
BWV 646 Ped. 4 Fuß
BWV 647 same
BWV 650 Ped. 4 Fuß
BWV 596 Principal 8' >
Well, the "all with 3 staves" is a huge modern trap and the NBA has fallen into it as other editions do. The Breitkopf (Lohmann) edition tends to do rather better at avoiding a spurious third staff, but not systematically; it's still necessary to consult manuscript facsimiles and the critical notes to see where editors have brought a separate pedal staff into the score or were working from tablature...where the discernment of pedal notes is optional. See also the comments on each piece in Peter Williams's book The Organ Music of J S Bach for the
number of staves in the various sources.

A good summary article about this: Williams's "The snares and delusions of notation", in _J S Bach as Organist_ edited by George Stauffer and Ernest May. This book: http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN025321386X&id=HClu2E_9EtwC&pg=PR5&lpg=PR5

Do "search in this book" on there, and read it starting at page 274....

Stauffer's own article in there, "Bach's organ registration reconsidered", is similarly excellent and apropos of the topic. Starts at page 193.

< On p. 121 of Part 2 of Friedrich Erhardt Niedt's "Musicalische Handleitung" (2nd edition, Hamburg, 1721), Niedt states: "...it would be best that an organist playing the thorough-bass part should pay particular attention to this: If only one or two voices are singing or playing, then he should simply use the Gedackt 8-foot stop on the manual and no pedal at all anywhere else. >
I don't disagree, but I find it scarcely fathomable that you (in particular) are quoting anything from Niedt as reliable. You're the one who has gone on for more than a year asserting that "Niedt is a niete" and that he couldn't possibly have any relevance to Bach or to "Bach's intentions". Now, apparently, you have changed your mind tacitly and are beginning to take scholarly consensus at least a wee bit seriously, and to consider Niedt as somehow reliable for relevant historical information? Your retraction of the "Niedt is a niete" ugly business that you made up (which was never more than a fallacious argument against him anyway, poisoning his well) is eagerly and cheerfully awaited.

Also, two terrific sources of broader information about organ registrations in continuo (and Bach continuo in particular) remain the two Williams and Mendel articles I have recommended here repeatedly, until I'm blue in the face. Which see--the articles, not my blue exasperated face.

Peter Williams, "Basso Continuo on the Organ", Music and Letters #50 [1969], pp136-54 and 230-45

Arthur Mendel, "On the Keyboard Accompaniments to Bach's Leipzig Church Music", Musical Quarterly xxxvi [1950], pp339-62

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 31, 2006):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< On p. 121 of Part 2 of Friedrich Erhardt Niedt's "Musicalische Handleitung" (2nd edition, Hamburg, 1721), Niedt states:
on the other hand, if a entire choir of 8 to 12 or more voices enters /joins in (which in such a case is usually indicated by the words Œchoir¹, Œtutti¹, Œripieno¹, etc.), then he can pull an 8-foot Principal stop for the manual and add to the Subbass another 8-foot Octava stop in the pedal. If a composition calls for trumpets and timpani, then a 16-foot Posaune can be added to the 8-foot Octava...." >
Fascinating practical advice, very much in the Praetorius "use-what-ya-got" tradition" It would be fascinating to know if the practice applied to Bach. The addition of a 16' Posaune -- the heavy trombone stop -- would give a chorus such as "Wir Danken Dir" in Cantata BWV 12 ENORMOUS weight, positively Stokowskian! That would make the usual modern portative organ sound like a box of whistles.

I'm wondering about the cantata which we discussed earlier this year (title?!!) which has a chorus based on the familiar "Passion Chorale". The bass line plays only the chorale. Was it given prominence by being doubled by the organ at 16, 8 and 4-foot? If so, our "authentic" performances are grotesquely under-balanced.

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 31, 2006):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>I find it scarcely fathomable that you (in particular) are quoting anything from Niedt as reliable. You're the one who has gone on for more than a year asserting that "Niedt is a niete" and that he couldn't possibly have any relevance to Bach or to "Bach's intentions". Now, apparently, you have changed your mind tacitly and are beginning to take scholarly consensus at least a wee bit seriously, and to consider Niedt as somehow reliable for relevant historical information? Your retraction of the "Niedt is a niete" ugly business that you made up (which was never more than a fallacious argument against him anyway, poisoning his well) is eagerly and cheerfully awaited.<<
Are you once again attempting to represent my position and my opinions as extreme simply because some Bach scholars are still trying to make an untenable connection between Bach and Niedt? I still believe that Niedt, when compared to Bach, is truly 'eine Niete' for reasons that I have already mentioned:

1) Niedt is an early pioneer of the galant music style of composition and performance. What this primarily entails is reducing most compositions to top and bottom lines with chordal treatment for whatever lies between them. For Niedt, this also means the expunging, for the most part, of any fugal treatment of texts used for figural music during a church service. Niedt states that in his cantatas he has removed all coloraturas (melismata). The composing of canons Niedt calls a joke, not worth his time and effort. He even calls it (the composing of canons) a 'monster' which was used by old-fashioned cantors to torture those musicians who were just beginning to learn how to compose.

2. Niedt is not 'neat' and clear in his explanations which cover the gamut from defining 'andante' as a very slow tempo (even Mattheson who later edited Niedt's "Musicalische Handleitung" was surprised at some of the definitions that he found in it) to the rules governing thorough-bass performance (where Mettheson points out in a number of instances Niedt's statement of the rule as 'being as simple as it is wrong').

3. Everything that Niedt states needs to be examined and weighed very carefully. It needs to be compared within its own context, in contrast or agreement with any other primary sources that might shed greater light upon it, and, most importantly with evidence that issues from what we know about Bach and his music. Only in this light was the extract about organ registration shared with this list. Most list members who have been around for a while would understand this, but your criticism gives rise to this reappraisal of Niedt's position as a generally unreliable source of information. This does not preclude consideration or reconsideration of his ideas. Through such careful reevaluation of this primary source, I can still affirm that "Niedt ist eine Niete" since he stands directly opposed to those things that most people consider great about Bach's music. With your apparent slavish adherence to the opinions expressed by some scholars who find no fault with Niedt, I can begin to understand why you insist that I should likewise maintain an extreme attitude of not accepting anything at all written by Niedt to be worth reading, contemplating, and reassessing. But, as usual, I refuse to be cast into one of your simplistic, 'either-or' or 'black vs. white' modes of discussion and argumentation. Simply referring readers to this or that article will never replace actually commenting and quoting sources directly, however succinct and to the point they may happen to be. We as readers do not need to be treated as freshmen by you, freshmen who have not yet tasted what it is like to search for information, glean and winnow it before it is presented for confirmation. The time you waste in writing your vituperative comments could be better spent on offering keen insights that might issue from well-chosen quotations for all to consider.

Tom Hens wrote (August 1, 2006):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< And it is in that format (specifically the Vanguard recording he made of Die Kunst der Fuge) that has that statement I alluded to in it. It was his argument that the abscence of the 16' stop indication meant that it (Die Kunst der Fuge) was not intended for organ, but rather for the stringed keyboard instruments. >
That is not what he says at all. As one of his arguments that the AoF wasn't intended for organ, he points out that the lack of an obbligato pedal part would be very unusual for any large-scale organ work by Bach. All of the AoF is playable manualiter. A _pedal_ part, not an indication to use a 16' register. They're quite different things. For instance, in BWV 646 the explicitly named pedal part is specified as 4', and the two manuals as 8' and 16'. In BWV 647, the pedal is also specified as 4'. These are among the few organ works Bach published himself (in both cases, the pedal has the chorale cantus firmus).

Tom Hens wrote (August 1, 2006):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Not at all true. Firstly, Schweitzer's edition came out in the 1920s (before Peters), and secondly, he did the first five volumes in association with his teacher Charles-Marie Widor (a pupil of one of Emanuel Bach's pupils), whereas there is no Bach connection for the Peters edition. >
I'm always amazed at claims like this, that being a pupil of a pupil of a pupil of a pupil of someone imparts some special authority regarding their work. It doesn't seem to exist anywhere outside the field of music. At least, I can't think of anyone who claims to be an authority on, say, Goethe, because he was once taught a course in German literature by someone who once had been taught a course in German literature by someone who had once been taught a course in German literature by someone who had once had been taught a course in German literature by someone who once had been taught a course in German literature by someone who had actually met Goethe.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 1, 2006):
Tom Hens wrote:
< I'm always amazed at claims like this, that being a pupil of a pupil of a pupil of a pupil of someone imparts some special authority regarding their work. >
This is a great parlour game called "Six Degrees".

Example:

Douglas Cowling knew his great-uncle John Tapper
John Tapper knew Erich Leinsdorf, the conductor of the Boston Symphony
Erich Leinsdorf knew Siegfried Wagner at the Bayreuth Festival
Siegfried Wagner knew Richard Wagner

Therefore, Douglas Cowling has four degrees of Richard Wagner.

You win if you can create a link with a famous person within six degrees.

The key is to pick a famous person with whom the people playing are unlikely to have a personal connection. Otherwise, it becomes a tedious exercise in name-dropping.

Tom Hens wrote (August 1, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
<snip>
<< I'm always amazed at claims like this, that being a pupil of a pupil of a pupil of a pupil of someone imparts some special authority regarding their work. >>
< This is a great parlour game called "Six Degrees". >
I almost mentioned the six degrees thing. But to be serious for a moment, in musical circles such claims of having known someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew someone, etc., are often seriously advanced as an argument from authority. In the case of music, it's often even more tenuous since many music teachers keep on working until a very advanced age, and they often have quite young pupils, so such teacher/pupil links often span what would normally be considered several generations in any other field.

< Example:
Douglas Cowling knew his great-uncle John Tapper
John Tapper knew Erich Leinsdorf, the conductor of the Boston Symphony
Erich Leinsdorf knew Siegfried Wagner at the Bayreuth Festival
Siegfried Wagner knew Richard Wagner
Therefore, Douglas Cowling has four degrees of Richard Wagner. >
And, if we're going to play the game in the spirit in which it's intended, he's only four degrees from Adolf Hitler too.

< You win if you can create a link with a famous person within six degrees. >
Sticking to the field of German late-romantic composers, I'm two degrees from Richard Strauss. My grandfather, who I knew when I was a very young child, met him when he came to Antwerp to attend a premiere of one his operas at the local opera house, where my grandfather oversaw ticket sales on behalf of the city authorities, but was also in charge of providing hospitality to visiting dignitarlike Strauss. I have a picture of the two of them together to prove it. And therefore, I'm three degrees from everyone who Richard Strauss knew. A quick check of my desk dictionary shows that Strauss probably never met Wagner himself, but did know Cosima Wagner. Therefore, I'm four degrees from Richard Wagner too! And three degrees from Adolf Hitler, that trumps your four!

< The key is to pick a famous person with whom the people playing are unlikely to have a personal connection. Otherwise, it becomes a tedious exercise in name-dropping. >
Did I remember to tell everyone here I'm only three degrees removed from Brad Pitt, and Kevin Kline, and Jane Fonda, and well, a host of other famous Hollywood people, most of whose movies I've never seen?

To return to being serious again: the whole point of the six degrees game is that you can pretty much link anyone in the world, famous, infamous or totally obscure, to anyone else with at most six links in between (the "six degrees" coming from an interesting experiment by Stanley Milgram in the 1960's). It doesn't really mean anything.

Ed Myskowski wrote (August 1, 2006):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
< Douglas Cowling knew his great-uncle John Tapper
John Tapper knew Erich Leinsdorf, the conductor of the Boston Symphony
Erich Leinsdorf knew Siegfried Wagner at the Bayreuth Festival
Siegfried Wagner knew Richard Wagner
The key is to pick a famous person with whom the people playing are unlikely to have a personal connection. >

I should remember not to pick Wagner in a game with you?

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 1, 2006):
Tom Hens wrote:
< Sticking to the field of German late-romantic composers, I'm two degrees from Richard Strauss. >
I'm three!

My brother-in-law met Strauss' dentist on a liner crossing the Atlantic.

Now if anyone can do ANY degree of Bach, I will be impressed!

 

Organ continuo

Douglas Cowling wrote (July 30, 2006):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< The part about the 16' stops always being used as fundamental stops for the Pedal-Keys I got from a former schoolmate of mine that is a practicing Church Organist and schoolteacher. She pointed out to me that when selecting the stops to be used, the first always selected in the Pedal registers is the 16' stops, without which no sound could be made by the Pedal-Keys. >
This isn't the forum to get into questions of the performance of Bach's organ works -- then you'd REALLY see fireworks! -- but it does impact on questions of organ continuo in the vocal works. Until the late 50's, performances of the large works often had elaborate and very heavy organ realizations -- it was a "tradition" in many places for the organist to indulge in a huge "Earthquake" tone-poem in the SMP (BWV 244)!

The pendulum swung the other way as period performances grew. Now the "new normalcy" for Bach is that the organ has been reduced to a tiny portative instrument of not much more than three stops and no pedal. In most
performances it is all but inaudible. There is no evidence that Bach's organist used such a portable instrument (except perhaps in the SMP (BWV 244) where a second organ was needed). The colour and power of the Baroque organ has disappeared from contemporary performances.

This is an acute problem in the cantatas in which there are obligato organ parts. In all of the cantata recordings of Leusink, Suzuki and Harnoncourt, a small organ of flute stops simply doesn't "sound" -- and here I'm talking about colour rather than dynamic. In at least one Koopman recording, the virtuoso organ part is overwhelmed by the oboes and strings which are just providing patter harmonies in the background. In the Sinfonia to Cantata BWV 12, the single organ line (based on the Violin Sonata) is pitted against a full orchestra with brass. Here the sound engineers have to cheat to make it work.

Because modern performances use conveniently moveable chamber organs, we've dodged the questions of organ weight and colour in the realization of vocal works. I have never heard a period performance of a Bach work which used organ pedal in the accompaniment of the choir. Yet in Cantata BWV 12, the great chorus, "Wir Danken Dir", which follows the organ Sinfonia, is written in "stile antico" style. The instruments double the voices -- why not the organ pedal?

There are so many places in the vocal works that raise these questions of colour and weight that it is hard to know where to begin. In terms of colour and the changing of organ registration, I wonder if the bass and soprano recitative-arioso movements of the "Christmas Oratorio" were further differentiated by changing from one division of the organ to another (rapid changes between manuals [keyboards] is found throughout the organ works).

The opening of the "Christmas Oratorio" (BWV 248) is a good example of the question of weight. I remember hearing the old Richter performnce which realizes the first bass note with a strong forte organ chord with pedal before the timpani solo. Did Bach intend the organ to be present with such majesty? In modern performances all you hear is a tiny bleep that sounds like they're getting email.

I'm waiting for a glittering Zimbelstern (tiny spinning bells) ringing all through the "Gloria Patri" section of the Magnificat!

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (July 30, 2006):
[To Douglas Cowling] I believe that the use of the Chamber Organ in the case of Bach's Sacred works is inaccurate except in the case of works (exclusing BWV 226 here) composed for funerals. This is because these works were not (except for BWV 226) usually performed in a church. BWV 226 is an exception because it was written for performance in church to comemorate the funeral of the Rector of the Thomasschule Ernesti and was performed in the Universitaetskirche. In all other circumstances, however, the positive Church Organ was to be used.

Whilst on the subject of Continuo instruments, I have discovered a fallacy in the Preface to the Taschenpartitur edition of BWV 245 by Baerenreiter. It states: "For the performance of most church works by Bach and for Versions I-III of this work there were three continuo parts: two for violoncello and violone (shared by bassoon, if present) and one, figured and transposed, for organ". Yet, according to The Bach Reader (which dates from 2 years [1972] before the above-mentioned score [1974]), we find the following document detailing the performances of the funeral music for the Electress of Saxony (BWV 198):

(Excerpt from Sicul's "Das thraenende Leipzig" 1727--17 October 1727) "In solemn procession, while the bells were rung, the Town Officials and the Rector and Professors ofthe Univesity entered the Paulinerkirche, where many others were present, namely princely and other persons of rank, as well as not only Saxon but foreign Ministers, Court and other Chevaliers, along with many ladies. When, then, everyone had taken his place, there had been an improvisation on the organ, and the Ode of Mourning written by Magister Johann Christoph Gottsched, member of the Collegium Musicum, had been distributed among those present by the Beadles, there was shortly heard the Music of Mourning which this time Kapellmeister Johann Sebastian Bach had composed in Italian style, *with Clave di Cembalo [harpsichord], which Mr. Bach himself played, organ*, violas di gamba, lutes, violins, recorders, transverse flutes, &c., half being heard before and half after the oration of praise and mourning".

If this is true about the performance and instrumentation of BWV 198 (which could be taken as a typical example of Bach's Sacred writing), then the above-mentioned Taschenpartitur score needs to be revised in its preface, since the harpsichord was also a part of the Continuo, not just the Organ, and that this would be true for *all* of Bach's Sacred works. It wold mean that the distribution amongst the Continuo for Bach's Sacred music would run as follows:

1 (or 2, depending on twork) Bassoon(s)

2 Violoncelli

1 Violone

1 Harpsichord

1 Organ

These would, of course, be per orchestra (meaning that the numbers would be doubled in such works as the Matthäuspassion (BWV 244), which uses 2 orchestras).

William Rowland (Ludwig) wrote (July 30, 2006):
I know this is not a performance group. However, thetopic was brought up and since I also play the Organ and have formal training and have been a professional Organist I feel the need to correct something here.

The person that you speak of is mistaken and probally thinks thus, if you understood her correctly, because of the way American and Canadian instruments were built in the 19th and early 2oth in which a single 16' rank would have to do all the work of just about everything the pedal had to offer and often it was the ONLY independent rank on the pedal any other ranks had to be coupled from the manuals (usually two). Everything else had to be coupled to the manuals. WE are NOT talking about large instruments but the average 12-30 rank instrument which often had unified stops. This is what the Baroque Organ Building craze swept away in the late 1950s to 1970s. Organs pedal ranks then began to sing instead of playing umpah-umpah pah and plodding along.

The first stop one chooses on the Pedal is NOT a 16' but any stop that does what the passage/music always demands--sometimes that may well be a 16' stop. If it is a Bach cantus firmus that might be a Clarion 4' or a Musette 8. If it is Big Romantic French Toccata --then one might have the full Organ coupled to the pedal and add as one goes along the 32' Montre, the 32 Bombarde to the 16,8 and 4 Bombardes or in one of the quieter moods of a Vierne Symphony perhaps an 8 foot Gamba in the pedal and a Vox Humana 8 and flutes in the manuals or the Saint-Saens Symphony #3 a Gedack 32 in the manuals and a 8' Voix Celeste in the Manuals.

 

Continue on Part 7

Articles: The “Shortening of the Supporting Notes” in the Bc of Bach’s ‘Secco’ Recitatives [Thomas Braatz] | Playing Plain Recitative in Bach's Vocal Works [Bradley Lehman]
Discussions of Recitatives:
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10 | Part 11 | Part 12 | Part 13 | Part 14 | Continuo in Bach’s Vocal Works: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7

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Last update: ýFebruary 16, 2007 ý23:55:45