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Epanalepsis

 

 

Epanalepsis

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 72 – Discussions

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 16, 2003):
BWV 72 Mvt. 5 Epanalepsis

(with apologies to J. S. Bach, who, I hope, will not be offended by my attempt to categorize or label an aspect of his music)

In this beautiful soprano aria, as Brad kindly pointed out, there is a very moving moment at the very end of the aria. The soprano makes a somewhat unexpected entrance with a repetition of a short phrase at the very end of this mvt. The soprano sings twice in quick succession “mein Jesus will es tun.” These are the exact words with which this aria began. Although not a common occurrence in Bach’s arias which usually end with a final instrumental ritornello, there are a few other notable instances where Bach also applies the same technique as in BWV 72/5.

This technique is based upon a figure of speech which defines exactly what Bach is doing when he has the vocalist, at the conclusion of the aria, sing once again the opening words of the aria. This figure is called ‘epanalepsis’ and is defined as follows:

Epanalepsis

“(Lat. ‘geminatio, resumption’) which Puttenham (“The Arte of English Poesie, 1589, p. 200) calls “Eccho sound,” is the repetition of the beginning at the end, a figure ‘per adiectionem.’ “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Phil. 4:4). A generic term, ‘epanalepsis’ encompasses the repetition of single words (‘iteratio’) and of whole phrases (‘repetitio’). When it comes at the beginning and end of a longer passage, it is termed ‘inclusio’ (Arthur Quinn, “Figures of Speech,”Davis, Calif., 1993, p. 88). Although the sentence or paragraph structure would be potentially complete without it, epanalepsis is introduced to rouse strong affections like love and hate and to add emphasis to a statement.” (quoted from “Encyclopedia of Rhetoric” [Sloane, ed.] Oxford, 2001, pp. 250-1).

OED: “a figure by which the same word or clause is repeated after intervening matter.”

Here are some additional examples from Bach’s arias which I have found:

SJP BWV 245/30 – Alto aria “Es ist vollbracht

BWV 94/3 – Tenor aria „Was frag ich nach der Welt

BWV 22/4 – Tenor aria „Mein alles in allem, mein ewiges Gut

BWV 159/4 – Bass aria „Es ist vollbracht

BWV 85/5 – Tenor aria „Seht was die Liebe tut

BWV 66/4 – Bass aria – the words before the coda „Täglich wird seine Barmherzigkeit neu

It would be stretching the meaning of epanalepsis to apply it to the numerous instances where Bach simple uses an echo effect, where the echo follows immediately upon the 1st statement. Here are a few examples of this type:

BWV 78/2 – Soprano, Alto duet – this really qualifies only as an echo effect on the words „zu dir“ [This is the famous „Wir eilen“ aria.]

This type of quick (almost immediate) ‘echoing’ also occurs sometimes in choral mvts.: BWV 127/1, BWV 129/1, etc.

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 16, 2003):
[To Thomas Braatz] It's a useful technique. Some familiar instrumental examples are:

- Bach's chaconne for solo violin
- The Goldberg Variations
- The finale of Brandenburg Concerto #2, in the trumpet
- The finale of Ravel's piano concerto in G

My personal favorite is the finale of Haydn's quartet Op 33 #2. During the movement he sets up the listener's expectation that this is just a fairly normal little rondo. But the piece then starts to disintegrate. It goes into an Adagio! Then he brings back his opening theme (presto) yet again, but chops it up: first phrase, two bars of rest. Second phrase, two bars of rest. Third phrase, two bars of rest. Fourth phrase, FOUR bars of rest. First phrase, and the movement then ends there, abruptly. (This quartet is sometimes called "The Joke" because of this technique.) Beethoven did something similar in his symphony #4, with fermatas.

Another one I especially like is Grieg's opening and closing of the collection of Lyric Pieces for piano. The very first piece, "Arietta," Op 12 #1 (1867) ends by invoking its own first four notes and then stopping. Then, in Grieg's last Lyric Piece, "Remembrances" Op 71 #7 (1901), he quotes that Arietta again, but it has turned into a waltz. And it too ends in this manner. Yes, Grieg used an epanalepsis across 34 YEARS! (And in the Peters/Dover edition, these two pages at the beginning and end of the colletion are 210 pages apart.)

Glenn Gould did it in his radio portrait of Leopold Stokowski, with the way he placed Stokowski's quote at the beginning and end of the program: "Think of our solar system, its colossal size [, its possibility]." That program is now available on CD, and see also Gould's own essay "Stokowski in Six Scenes" where he describes how and why he put this together.

And then there is T S Eliot's poem where he leads with "In my beginning is my end," and then his closing line is the subtly changed: "In my end is my beginning.": http://www.tristan.icom43.net/quartets/coker.html

It's a useful technique.

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 16, 2003):
< Thomas Braatz wrote: (with apologies to J. S. Bach, who, I hope, will not be offended by my attempt to categorize or label an aspect of his music) (...) Epanalepsis (...) >
The distinction here, Tom, is that in this case you are labeling a compositional technique and that's fine.

But in your use of "demi-voix" (and all your similar labels) you are labeling _people_ by the attributes they were born with: labeling PEOPLE with a dismissive prejudice against them. And that's the problem. It's as bad as racists who refer to other people (whether directly or obliquely) as "N-----" or "Sp---" or "Ch---", not realizing how utterly offensive it is.

What would you say to someone who dismissed Johann Sebastian Bach as a inferior composer, just because he was a "Honky" and a "Kraut"?

See also this essay about labels and racism:
http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2002-06/24wise.cfm
[snip]

Thomas Braatz wrote (April 16, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Brad, I don't think that you fully understand this term. You are trying to apply it in a sense which is much too broad. It is not simply the repetition of the da capo section after the middle section of a cantata, nor is it the restatement at the end of a composition of a theme on which the interim variations are based.

BL: >>It's a useful technique. Some familiar instrumental examples are:
- Bach's chaconne for solo violin
- The Goldberg Variations<<

TB: These are restatements of the entire theme at the very end (as also in the examples of Grieg, the Glould Stokowski quote, and T.S.Eliot which do not qualify)

BL: >>- The finale of Brandenburg Concerto #2, in the trumpet<<
TB: This is interesting, but for me it lacks the strong emotional effect that is inherent in the definition of epanalepsis. Bach has been 'hammering this theme in' polyphonically to such a degree that there is no special emotional effect attached to the tromba's final entry, where the listener simply feels that this is a good place to stop. This is simply a 'rounding out' of the mvt. by quoting the tromba snippet one last time. Nothing very special here.

BL: >>- The finale of Ravel's piano concerto in G<<
At the moment I can't place the ending in my mind, but if it entails a wistfully played fragment of the initial theme of this mvt. which had not been heard in a while and has a very special emotional effect upon the listener, then it might qualify for epanalepsis.

BL: >>My personal favorite is the finale of Haydn's quartet Op 33 #2. During the movement he sets up the listener's expectation that this is just a fairly normal little rondo. But the piece then starts to disintegrate. It goes into an Adagio! Then he brings back his opening (presto) yet again, but chops it up: first phrase, two bars of rest. Second phrase, two bars of rest. Third phrase, two bars of rest. Fourth phrase, FOUR bars of rest. First phrase, and the movement then ends there, abruptly. (This quartet is sometimes called "The Joke" because of this technique.) Beethoven did something similar in his symphony #4, with fermatas.<<
TB: This is simply a frivolous joke that is very typical of Haydn (Farewell Symphony and the like,) that can not be said to cause a strong emotion (or poignancy.)

The Beethoven Finale to the 4# is very similar, very Haydnesque (frivolous) and has nothing to do with epanalepsis.

I would suggest that you listen to the cantata (and SMP) examples that I gave. Start with the "Es ist vollbracht" examples which are very fitting for this week's music in any case (not a time for frivolous, light-entertainment music.) Epanalepsis is not simply a form-structural element. It tends to be more fragmentary and, for the listener who is not expecting it, it appears to appear 'out of the blue, but it should also have a profound emotional impact. Just chuckling at Haydn's and Beethoven's humor simply is not sufficient for this purpose.

Brad, 'epanalepsis' is a new 'label' for you and may take some time to get used to ;)

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 16, 2003):
[To Thomas Braatz] Hmm. Maybe so. But I did check out the list of terms at:
http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/Figures/Groupings/of%20Repetition.htm and noticed that "epanalepsis" does describe the examples I gave, IMO better than any of the other words there do. Do you have a better suggestion?

And for what it's worth, the examples I cited do have a "profound emotional impact" on me because of that fragmentary repetition at the end. Who are you to tell me they don't?

That evanescent ending of Brandenburg #2 is "nothing very special" to you?!

Obviously, you have not heard or looked at the Grieg "Arietta" and "Remembrances" in the Lyric Pieces. (If you HAD looked at them, you would know that the "entire theme" has many more than four notes in it.) If those Grieg examples aren't epanalepsis in music, what is?

Have you actually heard the Haydn Op 33 #2 finale, where he uses that opening phrase one last time and lets the piece end there? It causes quite strong emotions: surprise, then bewilderment, then realization, then a broad appreciative smile and perhaps also a chuckle. Those aren't emotions? That's not an out-of-the-blue fragmentation?! Come on!

Gerard Luttikhuizen wrote (April 16, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] A few days ago I joined the Bach cantatas discussion group. I am not a real expert but a just an enthousiastic lover of Bach's vocal (and other) music. I fully endorse the words of the old Forkel with which our webmaster uses to end his messages.

I read your lines about the rhetorical figure 'epanalepsis'. Unfortunately I could not open the website you mentioned. But I wonder if you know the study by Andreas Marti, '... die Lehre des Lebens zu hören. Eine Analyse der drei Kantaten zum 17. Sonntag nach Trinitatis von Johann Sebastian Bach unter musikalisch-rhetorischen und theologischen Gesichtspunkten", Bern-Frankfurt-Las Vegas: Peter Lang 1981 (ISBN 3-261-04867-0). Marti distinguishes some 40 rhetorical figures used in Bach's cantatas. It strikes me that he does not mention 'epanalepsis' but he speaks at length about 'Wiederholungsfiguren'.The role of rhetorical figures in Bach's cantates is much more interesting than I realized. On the one hand, I am convinced that we can experience and enjoy Bach's music without understanding the text and without believing a word of what the text says, on the other hand it adds a dimension to this amazing art.

Hugo Saldias wrote (April 16, 2003):
[To Gerard Luttikhuizen] Yes Gerhard

100% correct.
Tell Mr Braatz that in German too so there are no missunderstandings...

Thanks for joining you are very welcome!!

Bradley Lehman wrote (April 17, 2003):
< Gerard Luttikhuizen wrote: (...) I read your lines about the rhetorical figure 'epanalepsis'. Unfortunately I could not open the website you mentioned. >
The front of this wonderful web site appears to be at this address: http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/

I've studied some parts of rhetorical theory before, at various times, but hadn't known about this web site yet until today.

About 10 years ago, one of my classmates at Michigan (Elizabeth Farr) did a doctoral paper on rhetoric in Bach. She analyzed the Italian Concerto and another Bach keyboard work showing the specific rhetorical forms and devices he used, bar by bar. What an eye-opener/ear-opener! I still have that paper, and reread it every few years to think again in those directions. Much more could be done here in this area, it's fascinating.

This Saturday at midnight I'll be playing one of my own compositions at a midnight service, an organ piece based on the tune "Christ ist erstanden." In some parts of my score I have notated the musical/rhetorical gestures but have not written down the actual notes--gestures are more important than notes!--and will improvise in those passages. Probably some of that composition will continue to change before Saturday, with more study of that web site!.... :)

Gerard Luttikhuizen wrote (April 17, 2003):
Bach’s rhetoric

< Bradley Lehman wrote: The front of this wonderful web site appears to
be at this address:
http://humanities.byu.edu/rhetoric/ >
Dear Mr. Lehman, Thank you for referring to this website. However, it is devoted to rhetorical speech. It does not deal with rhetorical figures in musical compositions, let alone in Bach's cantatas (as the study by Andreas Marti does). The website is silent about figures which seem to be very current in Bach's cantatas, e.g. anabasis and circulatio (circulus). A very intesting example mentioned by Marti is the opening chorus of BWV 47, "Wer sich selbst erhöhet, der soll erniedrigt werden, und wer sich selbst erniedrigt, der soll erhöhet werden" (Whosoever exalteth himself shall be
abased: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted)

In Bach's music both the phrase 'whoseover exaltheth himself' and the concluding phrase 'shall be exalted' are sung in an upward line (anabasis) but there are two significant differences: the upward line of the self- styled exaltation ('who exalteth himself') remains within an octave, while the elavation by God ('shall be exalted') exceeds the octave; secondly, the elevation by God is sung in a straight line, while for the self- elevation Bach uses the circulatio (repeated circling of a note and therefore a more complicated and slow ascent). In my perception this circulus suggests self- centeredness and a halting behaviour. But once again, Bach's music is captivating and wonderful also if we are not aware of this rhetoric.

Wishing you success next Saturday.

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Last update: ýApril 17, 2003 ý12:44:21