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Flute in Bach's Vocal Works
Part 1

Flutes playing in E-flat

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 3, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Alfred Dürr wrote an article for the Bach-Jahrbuch, 1988, pp. 205 ff. on the adaptation/reworking/arrangement of BWV 127/1 as it appears in the pasticcio.
Dürr claims that only Bach could have undertaken all the changes involved. Many of the mistakes are caused by simple transposition errors. The reasons for the transposition become clear upon closer inspection, but there does not seem to be a really compelling reason for undertaking this transposition. >
Wait, it's becoming fuzzy here. How much of this report is an accurate representation of Dürr's points alone, and how much is morphing into extrapolation and crystal-ball analysis by Braatz? (The rest of the posting about BWV 1088, for the most part, was informative and mostly objective, appreciated!)

Has anybody here actually read that Bach-Jahrbuch 1988 article, on this matter? Does Dürr really go into the following speculations about the other movements of the pasticcio, and their allegedly (in)appropriate keys?

< Possibly it became necessary for the sequence of keys moving from C minor (mvt. 18) to F major (original of BWV 127/1) or Eb as mvt. 19 of the pasticcio; to G minor/Eb major in mvt. 20 and Eb major in mvt. 21. But it does not make much sense to have the transverse flutes playing in Eb major, a key rarely used by this instrument: >
That last sentence: highly questionable! Again, how much of this speculation is Dürr, and how much is Braatz? Looks to me like guesswork by the latter, losing his objectivity in the reportage.

Graun and Altnickol, whoever worked on this piece, both knew the practical musical issues of using E-flat major, and obviously didn't have a problem with it. Their compositional/editorial work on the pastiche doesn't merit a glib dismissal today as "does not make much sense". Good musicians are good musicians; I don't believe that Mr Braatz is in a solid aesthetic position to judge the quality of their work, from this distance.... Nor do Mr Braatz' obvious moral judgments against the pastiche process have anything to do one way or the other with normal working methods of musicians in the 18th century; he's judging the resulting pastiche by later romanticized notions about the values of originality, and by his assumption that reworked pieces somehow automatically lose value when additional musical hands are allowed to touch them (even if it's somebody as close to Bach as his own son-in-law Altnickol, or the highly venerated and skilled Graun).

Fast-forwarding to the 20th century: Alfred Dürr himself prepared a Bärenreiter edition of the E-flat flute sonata 1031 later than (and outside) the NBA. Furthermore, Dürr as the main editor of the BWV (1998), knows (or should!) the frequency with which transverse flutes are used in E-flat, whether as the main key of Bach pieces or for internal sections of them (especially memorably the slow movement of the MO's trio sonata, and the "Ich will bei meinem Jesu wachen" of SMP!) That is, it made plenty of sense to Bach to write for flutes in E-flat whenever he wanted to, and Alfred Dürr knows so. So, I doubt that the above speculation is Dürr's.

E-flat major is a perfectly serviceable and beautiful key for Baroque flutes, as corroborated also by Quantz who invented Baroque flutes, with special emphasis on playing D# and Eb as different notes (as an impetus to invent improvements to the instrument). Indeed, Quantz in his book provided a complete flute piece in E-flat to teach accompanists how to play sensitive dynamics; and I've had discussions a few months ago with a professional music theorist whose current paper is about dynamic/harmonic connections in this piece.

See also Robert Marshall's 1977 article "The Compositions for Solo Flute: A Reconsideration of their Authenticity and Chronology" (in The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sources, the Style, the Significance) where the case for 1031 is presented convincingly. John Solum in The Early Flute also includes it in his chronology of the main Bach flute works (p116) and explains why he's included it, against the NBA's outdated (1963) and questionable stylistic grounds for dismissing it. Bruce Haynes in "Questions of Tonality in Bach's Cantatas: The Woodwind Perspective" (1986 -- and I read it again last night to be sure) argued correctly that the average key for Bach's flute music is one sharp, but that certainly doesn't preclude forays as far as three or even more flats. His point there is that oboes (instead of flutes) get used more frequently in flat situations; nothing of course about it "not making much sense" to use flutes in E-flat, as asserted above.

Again, Bach could write whatever music suited his fancy and his practical circumstances (availability of players, and the Affekts to be expressed in the assigned theological themes), obviously....

E-flat as a key for flutes makes plenty of sense to me, having played with Baroque-flute specialists.... It's a key that sounds marvelous and subtly colorful, due to the way the intonation and the fingerings interact. I think I'll go listen to the MO trio sonata and 1031 again right now! And I listened to a Quantz trio sonata in E-flat (two flutes -- and written in the 1720s or 30s) this morning over breakfast; lovely.

=====

Incidentally, as a footnote about the BWV 1088 movement (which isn't about flutes): its first printing was only as late as 1965, in Bach-Jahrbuch. That's why its BWV number is so arbitrarily high.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 4, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Wait, it's becoming fuzzy here. How much of this report is an accurate representation of Dürr's points alone, and how much is morphing into extrapolation and crystal-ball analysis by Braatz?<<
No 'fuzziness' on my part. I was just as puzzled about some of the statements as you were. I am reporting it as written.

>>Does Dürr really go into the following speculations about the other movements of the pasticcio, and their allegedly (in)appropriate keys?<<
The reference to Dürr's opinion and what follows directly upon "it must have been Bach's own transcription and not that of one of his students" is, as I see it, is commentary by the main editor of this volume, Andreas Glöckner, who together with Peter Wollny were the editors of the first complete edition (1997) of Altnickol's copy of the score.

>>"But it does not make much sense to have the transverse flutes playing in Eb major, a key rarely used by this instrument:"
This is Glöckner's statement, not mine. I found it slightly puzzling, but then considered that it was 'a serviceable key' but not the most common key by Bach, for instance, in his cantatas. Perhaps Glöckner should have said that is was not among the most common keys played by transverse flutes (in Bach's music.)

>>I don't believe that Mr Braatz is in a solid aesthetic position to judge the quality of their work, from this distance.... Nor do Mr Braatz' obvious moral judgments against the pastiche process have anything to do one way or the other with normal working methods of musicians in the 18th century; he's judging the resulting pastiche by later romanticized notions about the values of originality, and by his assumption that reworked pieces somehow automatically lose value when additional musical hands are allowed to touch them (even if it's somebody as close to Bach as his own son-in-law Altnickol, or the highly venerated and skilled Graun).<<
A closer inspection of the Bach's original conception of BWV 127/1 reveals such things as the missing key low note in measure 38 on the word 'starbst' ['you died.'] Bach, or who ever prepared the later arrangement, must have sensed the loss of this musical picture (word-painting) when he was forced to set the continuo an octave higher, thus losing a very profound effect. This is a passsage quite comparable to BWV 4/5 ms. 64-65 of the bass solo on 'dem Tode.' Imagine having the final note on 'Tode' an octave higher! The entire effect would been lost. This is essentially what happens in the transcription of BWV 127/1. There is a degradation of the initial inspiration and conception even though the music is essentially the same. Unfortunately there are musicians who casually overlook features such as these. BTW, I also prefer the recorders over the transverse flutes in this mvt.

Ludwig wrote (November 4, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] It is incorrect to assume that Flutes rarely play in E flat as such Flutes are made in this would be a transposing instrument so the key for this flute would be C major but sounding E flat.

Bach has written many works in E flat and the Magnificat has a E flat version.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 4, 2004):
Ludwig wrote:
>>Bach has written many works in E flat and the Magnificat has a E flat version.<<
The Magnificat original version in Eb was written for two recorders, not transverse flutes which are being discussed here.

Among the various elements that were lost in the later transcription of BWV 127/1 is the emotional quality associated with the recorders which fits much better with the text and tenor of BWV 127/1 in its original form than the later reorchestrated/transposed version for transverse flutes does. It may well have been the case that Bach (or whoever might have undertaken the later arrangement [Altnickol?]) no longer had good flautists who could play the recorders well enough. The original version of BWV 127/1 is in the key of F major, a key ideally suited for recorders.

The question still remains: Why was this transposition to a lower key undertaken at all? There was a considerable amount of extra effort expended with the usual numerous copy errors that occur when transposing a piece. Quite apparent is the enfeeblement of the bc by having it take the higher octave at crucial points in the original where a low C was indicated. Does a Bb an octave higher have the same effect as the missing lowere Bb would have had? Was there any real gain achieved by transposing this piece? (Sequence of mvts.; emotive qualities associated with a different key (Eb major); the playability, intonation, and sound quality (bright or less bright) of transverse flutes in certain keys, etc.)

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 4, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
>>The question still remains: Why was this transposition to a lower key undertaken at all? There was a considerable amount of extra effort expended with the usual numerous copy errors that occur when transposing a piece.<<
What puzzles me is Andreas Glöckner's statement (NBA I/41 KB p. 57) about the state of copy errors in Altnickol's copy of the score:
"Charakteristische Kopierfehler deuten an, daß eine heute nicht mehr nachweisbare Partitur der Abschrift als Vorlage gedient hat."
["The characteristic copy errors indicate that a no longer verifiable score served as the source for this {Altnickol's} copy {of the score}"]

What other reason would there be for Altnickol making these 'characteristic copy errors' if he had been copying directly from Bach's own arrangement? Would Altnickol be so utterly careless by thoughtlessly copying all the same transposition errors that Bach might have made in his arrangement (assuming that Bach was even responsible for this transposition?) Isn't it much more likely that Altnickol was responsible for this transposed version for his own pasticcio? Yes, Altnickol may still have been copying either from the original score for BWV 127/1 in F major, or Bach's possible use of this music in a lost passion but in the original key of F major, but it boggles the mind to think that he would retain all the copy errors contained in an already transposed version of BWV 127/1 (and we do know for certain that Altnickol copied all of this mvt. and did not delegate the responsibility to another copyist as in BWV 1088 and mvt. 39 of the pasticcio.

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 4, 2004):
Ludwig wrote:
> >>Bach has written many works in E flat and the >Magnificat has a E flat version.<<
Thomas added:
< The Magnificat original version in Eb was written for two recorders, not transverse flutes which are being discussed here. >
Furthermore, at least according to the details in the BWV, those two recorders in the E-flat version play only in the "Esurientes" movement, which is in F there. That is, a performance is do-able with two oboists--or singers or string players--who can pick up recorders for that one movement....

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 4, 2004):
Ludwig wrote:
< It is incorrect to assume that Flutes rarely play in E flat as such Flutes are made in this would be a transposing instrument so the key for this flute would be C major but sounding E flat. >
...if a transposing flute in E-flat ever existed, anywhere near Bach. Evidence, please?

Bach's flute music in E-flat is notated in E-flat, not in C. That is, transverse flutes weren't treated as transposing instruments.

Joost wrote (November 4, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman (answering Ludwig)]
A flute in 415 surrounded by instruments playing at 392 could be considered as a flute in Eb.

By the way, as a transverse flute player I can assure you that it is not too difficult to play in Eb on a normal one-keyed d-flute.

Anna Vriend wrote (November 4, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] So far I know, one-keyed baroque flutes are in D. They are not transposing instruments. Eb Major is a very convenient key to play in, at least for the modern Boehm flute, and I'd expect it to be the same for traversos.

I'll be able to tell more once I get my own traverso (hopefully very soon!).

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 4, 2004):
Joost wrote:
< A flute in 415 surrounded by instruments playing at 392 could be considered as a flute in Eb. >
Indeed (since acoustically the flute is built in D, even though it's a C instrument from the perspective of notation)!

But again, that's nothing about Ludwig's assertion that the parts would be notated in C but sound a minor third higher, i.e. in E-flat. If anything, the situation you describe is analogous to that of the modern Db piccolo.

< By the way, as a transverse flute player I can assure you that it is not too difficult to play in Eb on a normal one-keyed d-flute. >
That's a good confirmation, thanks. The traverso players around here agree, too.

I've got a cheap D fife and D pennywhistle here, six holes apiece.... In the fife's fingering chart they don't even bother to suggest a low Eb or D#. To the extent that I can play the thing at all (having not much an embouchure) I half-hole it, like the analogous G# on treble recorder.

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 4, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
>>Furthermore, at least according to the details in the BWV, those two recorders in the E-flat version play only in the "Esurientes" movement, which is in F there. That is, a performance is do-able with two oboists--or singers or string players--who can pick up recorders for that one movement....<<
Furthermore, Alfred Dürr (NBA KB II/3 pp. 39-40) points out that the sequence of Bach's entries regarding the instrumentation of the 'Esurientes' of the Eb version (BWV 243a) is as follows:

1. Originally he wanted to have at least one oboe playing one of the two obbligato parts.

2. Bach wrote 'Hautb:' over the first staff.

3. He then quickly changed his mind and changed the treble clef ('Violinschlüssel') to a 'French treble clef' ['Französischer Violinschlüssel'] using the lowest ruled staff on the page and then wrote above the entire mvt. "2 Flauti." These recorders were most likely played by the same players who played the oboes in the other mvts.

When Bach later transposed the Eb major Magnificat to the D major Magnificat (BWV 243), the recorders would have ended up in an unfavorable key: E major. The transverse flutes were much better for handling this key properly.

Doug Cowling wrote (November 4, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< 3. He then changed his mind and changed the treble clef ('Violinschlüssel') to a 'French treble clef' ['Französischer Violinschlüssel'] using the lowest ruled staff on the page and then wrote above the entire mvt. "2 Flauti." These recorders were most likely played by the same players who played the oboes in the other mvts. >
In the Eb Magnificat, do the "flutes" not play in the same mvts ("Magnificat", "Fecit" and "Gloria") as the oboes as they do in the D major version?

Bradley Lehman wrote (November 4, 2004):
[To Doug Cowling] Nope. Assuming that the BWV's details are correct (which lists instrumentation of every movement explicitly; I don't have the NBA at my fingertips, but Thomas has confirmed with it), they play only in the "Esurientes".

Thomas Braatz wrote (November 4, 2004):
[To Doug Cowling] No, they do not. For starters BWV 243/1 (D major version) begins with both transverse flutes holding a high D (above the staff) for 7 1/2 beats after which both flutes duplicate the oboe parts, and sometimes the violin parts as well, but not in a strict colla parte style. In mss. 13-14, Bach has the oboes hold an A and a C# for 6 beats (an answer to the initial hold in the flutes) while the flutes, transposed an octave higher, play essentially what the oboes had played an octave lower (with Eb to D transposition involved as well)in the original Eb version (BWV 243a.) In the latter, early version, the interplay of long held notes takes place only between the trombae and the oboes (no flutes whatsoever involved;) now, in BWV 243, the transverse flutes are added to this exchange of held notes, a feature not found in the violin section. Three groups of instruments partake in this sequential exchange of long, held notes, resembling only slightly fugal entries spaced many measures apart as they make their appearances among the higher instruments in the treble range.

 

"recorder"

Ludwig wrote (December 13, 2004):
[To Iman de Zwarte] Please forgive but I mean no rudeness. I must correct the score listing: please never in English use the term "recorder" for the Blockflote. This terminology was banned in the English language during the 1990s by those of us who play it.

The reason is that the name is derived from the Latin verb :"recordare" which means to write down something as in record something for posterity . It came to medaevil English meaning the same and "to practice".

I have never seen a blockflote do any recording nor practice playing music---so the term does not make any sense either today or back in the 1300s of Chaucer's day. Today a recorder is something that records voices and images not a musical instrument. Dolmetsch, who belonged to the Society fro Anachronism" introduced this word for the musical instrument when he had no right to.

You may call it Fipple Flute (which early English Orchestration texts call it ) or Blockflute or Blockflote.

English is hard enough for it's first langauge speakers let alone for foreigners so let's try to keep things simple so that the semantics of English means what it is suppose to mean so that both foreigners and first language speakers know what one is meaning without confusion. There were recorders in Dolmetsch's day that recorded the barometric pressure which is further reason he had no right to use this word.

Bradley Lehman wrote (December 14, 2004):
< Please forgive but I mean no rudeness. I must correct the score listing: please never in English use the term "recorder" for the Blockflote. This terminology was banned in the English language during the 1990s by those of us who play it. >
"Banned"? My wife (who earned an English major in college) and I both play these instruments, for fun, and that's what we call them around the house. I wasn't aware that we were transgressing on issues of nomenclature. I used to play in a regular ensemble called the "Cappella Recorder Quartet", and we similarly weren't aware that our name should give anyone cause for alarm. We called ourselves that for our gigs because we practiced our recorders every week in a church chapel, setting up in the most resonant spot we could find in the room. Another member of that group, a full-time professional composer (a rare profession these days!), has composed and published two books of duets "for soprano and alto recorders", and the sky hasn't fallen on him.

Joost wrote (December 14, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] No sign of this ban in recorder@yahoogroups.com either...

Eric Bergerud wrote (December 14, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Yikes! do I have to throw away my copy of Dan Laurin's rendition of Handel's Recorder Sonatas (Masaaki Suzuki, keyboard)? Maybe the art folks at BIS haven't got the word yet. (Come to think of it, I learned a little Blockflote in about 3d grade. Teacher called it a Tonette. I suppose better versions are longer than 12 inches and are not made of plastic.)

Doug Cowling wrote (December 14, 2004):
Bradley Lehman wrote:
< "Banned"? My wife (who earned an English major in college) and I both play these instruments, for fun, and that's what we call them around the house. I wasn't aware that we were transgressing on issues of nomenclature. >
There is an ensemble in Toronto which calls itself Recordare, which is too clever a name to be banned.

Ludwig wrote (December 14, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] It has been thus far a long uphill battle to get people to use the correct term and publishers are not helping the matter. If you think about it you will understand quickly why "recorder" is an incorrect term for the Fipple Flute or Blockflute.

I also play Blockflotes and own a quintet/sextet of them from the Soprinino down to the grand bass in C among my other instrument collections. ( I also have a bass in F) and write music for them----I have written a Concertante for Blockflutes, Glockenspiel and Strings which calls for a Chorus of Blockflutes.

A blockflute neither practices music on it's own nor does it record hence this term is inappropriate and there is nothing to justify calling it a 'recorder'

I personally prefer Blockflute because it accurately describes the instrument. In Canada, it would be proper to use Fipple Flute, Blockflute or Flauto dolce or the French word which escapes me at the moment.(Flûte douce?) although I must say I find nothing 'sweet about the sounds of the Blockflute).

A musical group can call itself anything that they wish but they should not perpetuate erroneous confusing nomenclature for an instrument that does not do what the name implies that it does.

Ludwig wrote (December 14, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Brad old habits often die slowly and it has been an uphill battle to get people and especially publishers to stop using inappropriate words in English for our instrument. The English language is the only language which has this problem over this particular instrument. Blockflute or Blockflote was adopted because it accurately describes our instrument and is adopted from German. If you look at the Blockflote you will find that it is really nothing more than an Organ Pipe from which more than one note can be obtained.

You may call your group anything that you wish but when it comes to the instrument the correct English names is either Fipple Flute or Blockflote and the former is unsed in many orchestration texts as early as the 1880s.

 

Flute in bach's music

Continue of discussion from: HIP - Part 16 [General Topics]

Nicholas Johnson wrote (July 18, 2005):
[To John Pike] Indeed BWV 22 & BWV 23 have much to offer.

Given the difficulty of the vocal parts in the Bach arias my friends and I tend to allocate the voice part to an oboe/violin in much the same way as Bach himself must have been pragmatic as regards the exact scoring of his pieces. The flute or oboe have such a tiny repertoire in Bach's instrumental works ( Wolff tells us in his book that much has been lost) that flautists would do well to look to the cantafor the real flute gems.

Thomas Braatz wrote (July 19, 2005):
Nicholas Johnson wrote:
>>...flautists would do well to look to the cantatas for the real flute gems.<<
The list of mvts. for transverse flute (recorders not included in this list) where the flute(s) play:

BWV 8/1,4,6
BWV 9/1,5,7
BWV 11/1,3,6,7b,8,9
BWV 26/1,2,6
BWV 30/1,5,6
BWV 30a/1,5,11
BWV 34/3
BWV 36b/1,5,7,8
BWV 45/1,5,7
BWV 55/1,3,5
BWV 67/1,2,4,6,7
BWV 78/1,4,7
BWV 79/1,2,3,6
BWV 82/1,3,6
BWV 94/1,4,8
BWV 96/3,6
BWV 99/1,3,5,6
BWV 100/1,3,6
BWV 101/1,2,6,7
BWV 102/5,7
BWV 103/1,3,6
BWV 107/1,6,7
BWV 110/1,2,7
BWV 113/5,6
BWV 114/2
BWV 115/1,4,6
BWV 117/1,4,7,9
BWV 123/1,5,6
BWV 125/1,2,6
BWV 129/1,3,5
BWV 130/5,6
BWV 145/3,5
BWV 146/5,8
BWV 151/1,5
BWV 157/1,3,4,5
BWV 161/1,4,5,6
BWV 164/3,5,6
BWV 170/5
BWV 172/2,4,6
BWV 173/2,4,6
BWV 173a/2,4,6,8
BWV 180/2
BWV 181/1,5
BWV 184/1,2,5,6
BWV 184a/1,2,6
BWV 191/1,2,3
BWV 192/1,2,3
BWV 194a/3
BWV 195/1,3,4,5,6
BWV 197a/4,7
BWV 198/1,4,7,8,9,10
BWV 201/1,5,13,15
BWV 204/6,8
BWV 205/1,2,10,13,15
BWV 206/1,9,11
BWV 207/1,7,9
BWV 209/1,3,5
BWV 210/6,9,10
BWV 211/4,10
BWV 212/14
BWV 214/1,3,8,9
BWV 215/1,6,7,8,9
BWV 216/3,7
BWV 232 various mvts.
BWV 234/1,2,4,6
BWV 243/1,4,6,7,9,12
BWV 244 various mvts.
BWV 245 various mvts.
BWV 247/1,24,46
BWV 248/various mvts.
BWV 249/2,5
BWV 1013 Partita
BWV 1020 Sonata
BWV 1030 Sonata
BWV 1031 Sonata
BWV 1032 Sonata
BWV 1033 Sonata
BWV 1034 Sonata
BWV 1035 Sonata
BWV 1039 Sonata
BWV 1044/1,2,3
BWV 1050/1,2,3
BWV 1067 from Ouverture to Badinerie
BWV 1079 Trio Sonata, Canon perpetuus
BWV Anh.I 196, 5

The list for 'Flauto'[Blockflöte,recorder] is shorter:

BWV 13/1,3,5
BWV 18/1,3,4,5
BWV 25/1,5,6
BWV 39/1,5,7
BWV 46/1,2,5,6
BWV 65/1,2,6,7
BWV 69a/3
BWV 71/1,4,6,7
BWV 81/1
BWV 106/1,2,4
BWV 119/1,4,5,7,8
BWV 122/3
BWV 127/1,3,5
BWV 152/1,4,6
BWV 161/1,4,5,6
BWV 175/1,2,7
BWV 180/1,4,5,7
BWV 182/1,2,5,7,8
BWV 208/9
BWV 243a/9
BWV 244/19
BWV 249/7
BWV 1047/1,2,3
BWV 1049/1,2,3
BWV 1057/1,2,3

Anna Vriend wrote (July 19, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks, Thomas. I was going to submit this question to the list some time.

Aryeh Oron wrote (July 19, 2005):
New Search facility

[To Nicholas Johnson & Anna Vriend] The new Search Works/Movements facility, of which I informed the BCML about a week ago, should help you answering questions like this. See: http://www.bach-cantatas.com/INS-Search.htm
So far Cantatas BWV 1-25 and Motets BWV 225-230 are already in the database. I asked for feedback from the members regarding the usability and convenience of the new Search facility. So far I have received only 2 responses.

Come on guys! I would like to hear what you think. The new Search facility is for you!

 

Recorders vs. flutes in Bach (was: Re BWV 46 . . .)

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 46 - Discussions Part 2

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 1, 2000):
Santu de Silva wrote:
>>Can anyone tell me for certain whether the B minor Mass (BWV 232) uses definitely flutes, and not recorders? (I really don't know; all I know is that I hear lots of works where one recording uses flutes, and the other uses recorders.)<<
There are a number of instances in the NBA printed scores where I have observed that the editors are unable to determine without a doubt whether Bach intended (or originally intended) to have recorders or transverse flutes play the parts. The editors of the NBA will indicate in normal type what Bach had written: "Flauto", then, in italics, add "traverso" to indicate the possibility that Bach may have considered the transverse flute for this part, but then did not bother to indicate this.

With the help of Ulrich Prinz's book: "J. S. Bachs Instrumentarium" [Bärenreiter, 2005], this problem has been resolved since it is possible to see at a glance, precisely which terms Bach did use when he had a 'flute' part in mind. Here is a quick summary:

From the original sources on his autograph scores and parts where Bach's authorship is clear we find the following:

For Recorder/Blockflöte/Flûte à bec

Bach used the following designations (singular and plural + abbreviations):

Flauto, Flaute, Flauti, Flaut:, Fiauto, Fiaut., Fiauti, Flutti,

For Transverse Flute:

Traversa, Traverso, Traversiere, Traversier, Travers:,
Travers., Trav:, Trav., Traversieri, Traversi,
Travers, Tr., Flauto Traverso, Fl. Traverso,
Flaut:Travers:, Flauto Traversiere,
Flaute-traversiere, Flute Traversa, Flute Travers:,
Flute Travers.

Bach's earliest use of the recorder is in BWV 106 (Mühlhausen, 1707) and his latest use (composition or arrangment, not repeat performances of earlier works) can be found in BWV 1057 (c. 1738 according to one source and/or 1739 according to another.

Summary: Bach uses the recorder throughout most of his composing career from the earliest occurrence in the Mühlhausen period to his mature Leipzig period with exclusion of the final decade where the instrument may still have been used for repeat performances.

Summary: Bach's earliest use of the transverse flute can be traced back to his Cöthen period in BWV 173a (1719-1722), BWV 184a (1722/23) and BWV 194a (before 1723). At the end of his first cantata year, Bach began using the transverse flute in Leipzig as well, beginning with BWV 67 (April 16, 1724.) Among the latest instances of use are BWV 212 (August 30, 1742), the trio sonata from the Musical Offering BWV 1079 (1747) and Parts II and IV of the B-minor Mass BWV 232 (1748/49).

The NBA has just published (2005) the earliest versions of sections from the B-minor Mass (BWV 232 (I) from 1733, the early G major version of the Credo in unum Deum BWV 232 (II/I), and the Sanctus BWV 232 (III) from 1724. Wherever flutes are called for, they are not recorders but transverse flutes, even in these early versions.

Santu de Silva wrote (September 2, 2005):
[To Thomas Braatz] Thanks! This is a wonderful summary.

Chris Kern wrote (September 3, 2005):
Ludwig wrote:
< PLEASE FOLKS WHEN SPEAKING ENGLISH DO NOT USE THE WORD 'RECORDER' FOR THE MUSICAL INSTRUMENT!!!!!!!!! THE CORRECT TERM IS THE GERMAN WORD BLOCKFLOTE OR BLOCKFLUTE OR FIPPLE FLUTE. >
My dictionary does not contain the worsd "blockflote"or "blockflute". "Recorder" is the standard word for this instrument in English; thereis no reason to use a German word instead. It doesn't matter how theword entered the language; it matters what it means now.

And please do not write in all caps.

Ludwig wrote (September 3, 2005):
[To Chris Kern] I AM SORRY THAT YOUR DICTIONARY IS SO OLD FASHION. PERHAPS YOU NEED TO GET AN UPDATED ONE THAT KNOWS SOMETHING ABOUT MUSIC. BLOCKFLUTE HAS BEEN AROUND FOR SOME YEARS,

I AM WRITING IN CAPS DELIBERATELY BECAUSE I AM TIRED OF HAVING TO CORRECT STUBBORN PEOPLE.

THANKS

James P. Spencer wrote (September 3, 2005):
[To Ludwig] I might suggest the stubborn person is the one who, using a really hokey pseudonym, insists to the point of SCREAMING AND SHOUTING that we should use terms that are not in common English parlance, not in any of the dictionaries that are around here including a brand new Websters and an admittedly older OED (to be precise "fipple flute" is in the electronic dictionary that comes with Apple's latest OS in the form of "a flute, such as a recorder, played by blowing endwise"; blockflute is nowhere to be found although I admit to not having a Grove here), cannot be found in searching for recordings at any of the standard record services here (actually, again to be precise, blockflute does turn up one single recording on Amazon), and would confusmost English readers.

Uri Golomb wrote (September 3, 2005):
James Spencer wrote:
< I might suggest the stubborn person is the one who, using a really hokey pseudonym, insists to the point of SCREAMING AND SHOUTING that we should use terms that are not in common English parlance, not in any of the dictionaries that are around here including a brand new Websters and an admittedly older OED [etc.] >
Let me second that. The word "recorder" is listed as the proper English word for Blockfloete (sorry, can't produce umlauts at the moment) in the newest online versions of both the Grove Dictionary and the OED. The OED's history of the word indicates that it has been in use from the 15th century to the present, with an apparent gap between 1791 and 1920 (more or less the period in which the instrument itself was rarely, if ever, used).

As for Blockfloete: the OED doesn't even recognise Blockfloete as an English word; it only cites blockflute as the name of an organ register. Grove does have two entries for "Blockfloete". One of them reads, in its entirety: "The English term 'blockflute' is sometimes used to mean Recorder." The other simply refers the readers to the entry "organ stop", where the Blockfloete register is indeed listed and described.

Obviously, the OED needs updating about the use of blockflute as the name of an instrument. However, I think that, if these two august dictionaries -- in their most recent editions -- both cite Recorder as the primary English word for the German "Blockfloete", then we can safely follow their example. Note also that Grove suggests BlockFLUTE, not Blockfloete, as the English alternative to recorder...

John Reese wrote (September 3, 2005):
[To Chris Kern] Why do people insist on using the outmoded word "dictionary", instead of my personal favorite, "Word-o-pedia"?

 

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Flute in Bach's Vocal Works: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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Last update: ýMay 1, 2013 ý00:41:43