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OVPP (One-Voice-Per-Part)

Part 13

 

 

 

Continue from Part 12

OVPP [BRML] - Continue

Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 14, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote: " don’t know where you get this misinformation that you share with these lists. Do you make it up or read it in other sources which are not reliable?
A question which many people could ask of Thomas Braatz.

"It is your prerogative to believe what Rifkin and Parrott want you to believe, but your imagination seems to fail you if you are unable to envision 3 or even 4 singers looking into the same part or being able to divide the responses up among themselves without marking in a single part the 3 (or 2) entrances in a 5-measure section of music. I suppose you also have never played violin in an orchestra where you shared a part with another violinist?"
Accusations of lack of imagination are a bit rich coming from this arch-literalist and pedant. And has the writer of these unnecessarily rude and nasty remarks actually even seen 3, or 4, singers sharing a copy, and, more to the point, has he ever himself done this? It is most impratical, to put it mildly. 2 violinists at a single desk in an orchestra is a totally irrelevant comparison. Charles's idea is a perfectly viable performance option, but it says absolutely nothing about whether these pieces were performed OVPP or not.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 14, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote (in response to Dr John Pike):
< The number of original parts for the SMP singers is 13 covering both choirs. I don’t know where you get this misinformation that you share with these lists. Do you make it up or read it in other sources which are not reliable? If you are counting very precisely along with Rifkin and Parrott, it is best to stick with the actual, reliable facts.
It is your prerogative to believe what Rifkin and Parrott want you to believe, but your imagination seems to fail you if you are unable to envision 3 or even 4 singers looking into the same part or being able to divide the responses up among themselves without marking in a single part the 3 (or 2) entrances in a 5-measure section of music. I suppose you also have never played violin in an orchestra where you shared a part with another violinist? >
What's this patronizing crap but an attempt to impugn the credibility and imaginative abilities of Dr John Pike, along with the predictable side-swings at Parrott and Rifkin? What's the motivation? What happens if Dr John Pike is more intelligent or experienced in music than Mr Thomas Braatz, in any demonstrable way; does the universe collapse or something?

And, by the way: Mr Thomas Braatz, we're still waiting to hear whether YOU have ever performed a single piece of Bach's music, in any capacity. If not, who are you to belittle other people's musical experience or make wild guesses about it?

Uri Golomb wrote (June 14, 2004):
Thomas Braatz: "The number of original parts for the SMP singers is 13 covering both choirs."
This is not entirely accurate. As far as I know, there were 12 vocal parts, only 8 of which "cover both choirs". The remaining four parts are extraneous to the two vocal choirs. They include: the Soprano-in-ripieno part; one soprano part, covering only the two "Ancillas" (for the scene of Petrus's denial) and PIlate's wife; one bass part for Judas and First Priest; and yet another bass part, covering Petrus, Caiaphas, Second Priest, and Pilate (Essential Bach Choir, p. 83). At least some of these extra parts include "Tacet" marks -- telling these singers, very explicitly, *not* to participate in the choruses and chorales (ibid, p. 200).

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 14, 2004):
Douglas Cowling stated: < I'm not convinced that Bach's singers were ordinary "demi-voix". >
Nor am I, and nor was Agricola, one of Bach’s students (see below)

Johan van Veen:
>> Mr Braatz was't talking about Bach's singers, but about modern interpreters. 'Demi-voix' or 'half-voices' is his buzz word to show his contempt for singers he doesn't like. The idea that HIP singers have 'demi-voix' is a pure invention on his part. What's new? We have heard it umpteen times before. Is there anyone who is still interested?<<
Dr Bradley Lehman, B.A., A.M., M.M., A.Mus.D. (like the Lorax, speaking in defense of the living beings who are the targeted victims of such evil) stated:
>>Why these destructive role models should be emulated by list members, in their regular behavior here (their personal crusades of disrespect launched against performers and scholars, instead of discussing Bach's music), is known only to themselves. But those same patterns of contempt, self-importance, and entitlement are obvious: even their techniques are the same, in the attacks they launch. If the music isn't delivered as they prefer (as if their own preferences and expectations are the only things that should matter), they lash out against the messengers (performers/scholars). They obviously believe they understand everything better than anyone else has a right to do, and better than trained and experienced messengers do.<<
The problem here is that the latter two comments profess to having expert knowledge which they do not, because they have not studied (or is it adequately studied in order to understand?) such an important historical source as Johann Friedrich Agricola’s “Anleitung zur Singkunst” [Berlin, 1757], a translation and extensive commentary of Pier Francesco Tosi’s “Opinioni de’ cantori antichi e moderni.” Since Agricola had a direct connection as student/performer under Bach’s direction over a number of years in Leipzig, his comments on singing in the ‘German style’ are quite important for anyone who wishes to understand how good singing was taught and properly executed, as it must have been under Bach’s direction.

Although the term ‘demi-voix’, ‘Halbstimme,’ ‘half-voice’ [the New Grove describes one such famouse HIP singer very kindly using the term ‘small voice’] is not used as such in this book [remember that Bach never used the term ‘secco recitative’ or even ‘cantata’ in referring to most of his Sunday cantatas,] it, nevertheless, can be used to describe generally the type of voices commonly found singing Bach arias many HIP ensembles. There are, of course, exceptions to this observation, as Juozas Rimas as pointed out (Prégardien).

Agricola describes the nature of a good singing voice as one that has nearly equal power/volume throughout the entire range of the voice. The opposite of such a desirable voice is one where problems occur, usually at one of the extreme ends of the range. He describes in detail the ‘shifting’ over into a falsetto-type voices which must be done properly, but he also points out the serious problems facing the singer ‘when the bottom drops out’ and very little sound/volume, and hence, expression can be heard in the low range of the voice. Such a voice is barely functioning when Bach writes an aria with a low tessitura. The problem usually is, however, that Bach, who knew his voices so well, often composed for the full range of notes available to him. This is very challenging, particularly for current singers who may have been trained to sing with limited expectations because of the erroneous notion that Baroque instruments playing OPPP are much, much softer (have less volume) than modern instruments. While the general comparison between the two types of instruments may be true, too much has been made of the difference between them (think only of the comparison between the trombae and the modern trumpet) thus exaggerating the difference in volume specifically on the HIP end.

It seems ironic that those degreed individuals who are ‘locked into’ holding on dearly to untenable theories, in this case, one which excuses many HIP singers for actual vocal debilities that may not be easily overcome even with further training and one which chooses instead to elevate them as being great artists whose vocal production is to be extolled and held up as a model to be emulated by other singers, are the same degreed individuals who claim great artistic freedom for the performing artists, who in this instance, do not even possess the necessary wherewithal to bring about truly moving performances of Bach’s music. What good is ‘artistic freedom of interpretation’ if the instruments (such as Bach’s trombae and trombae playing which were recently discussed) are still lacking in perfection and the human voice, the greatest instrument of all, is treated without much respect for the possibilities which Bach had built into the music. Why should inferior voices be fostered and illogically protected and defended by experts who ought to know better and perhaps should listen more carefully to the results that such ‘demi-voix’ are putting before the listening public?

Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 14, 2004):
Uri Golomb wrote: "This is not entirely accurate. As far as I know, there were 12 vocal parts, only 8 of which "cover both choirs"."
And John was clearly referring to the two choirs, before he was so nastily slapped down.

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 14, 2004):
Thomas Braatz: "The number of original parts for the SMP singers is 13 covering both choirs."
John Pike responded:
>>But the number of original parts for the SMP singers is only 8, covering both choirs.<<
Uri Golomb responds:
>>This is not entirely accurate. As far as I know, there were 12 vocal parts, only 8 of which "cover both choirs". The remaining four parts are extraneous to the two vocal choirs. They include: the Soprano-in-ripieno part; one soprano part, covering only the two "Ancillas" (for the scene of Petrus's denial) and PIlate's wife; one bass part for Judas and First Priest; and yet another bass part, covering Petrus, Caiaphas, Second Priest, and Pilate (_Essential Bach Choir_, p. 83). At least some of these extra parts include "Tacet" marks -- telling these singers, very explicitly, *not* to participate in the choruses and chorales (ibid, p. 200).<<
Here are the vocal parts as numbered by the NBA in the KB II/5 on pp. 49ff.:

1) “Soprano in Ripieno”
2) “Soprano in Ripieno”
3) “Soprano, Chori 1mi”
4) “Soprano” “Ancilla 1, Ancilla 2, Uxor Pilati”
5) “Alto 1. Chori”
6) “Tenore 1. Chori” “Evangelista”
7) “Basso 1. Chori” “Jesus”
8) “Basso” “Judas” “Pontifex”
9) “Basso” “Petrus, Pontifex, Kaiphas, Pontifex 2, Pilatus”
23) “Soprano Chori II.”
24) “Alto Chori II.”
25) “Tenore Chori II.”
26) “Basso Chori II.”

It appears from your description/quote that Parrott missed the extra ‘Soprano in Ripeno’ part, perhaps in an effort to keep the voice parts as small/few as possible?
Why would John Pike want to correct my information on this in the first place, since I was giving precisely what I had found?

The next question that should be asked is:
Why did the 8 singers of the SMP need these additional parts for singing the special roles? Certainly it would have made more sense to put these parts right into the main vocal parts since the same singer can be looking at a single part and not shuffling about in the middle of the performance to find the special sheet that he would need to sing a role. That way we would know that the same bass singer would have sung Jesus, Judas, etc In any case with “Basso 1. Chori” singing Jesus as well as everything else that the chorus does and with “Basso Chori II” possibly doubling on one of the other 2 bass parts, there still is a bass part left over. Why weren’t these all combined into the “Basso Chori II” the same way that Jesus’ part was combined with “Basso 1. Chori”?

Only 8 singers for the SMP does not make sense when based upon the actual, existing parts.

How about this? The extra parts were delegated to the additional singers who were singing from the same part so that they could stand momentarily apart from reading from the main choral parts (such as “Basso 1. Chori” or “Basso Chori II.”) and deliver their short solo sections properly projecting their voices into the church.

Donald Satz wrote (June 14, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] I'm tired of hearing the old refrain that singers working with HIP bands don't have sufficient voices. I have tons of vocal Bach recordings and find absolutely no correlation between voice quality and type of band used. As just one example, I find Bryn Terfel pathetic in baroque works. It has nothing to do with HIP or OVPP and everything to do with the grossly inflated style Terfel uses. So stop blaming overall performance style for the failings of particular singers.

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 14, 2004):
[the message was removed]

Johan van Veen wrote (June 14, 2004):
[the message was removed]

Johan van Veen wrote (June 14, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] Another bunch of quotations, which don't prove anything. I still have seen no evidence whatsoever for the view that all exclamations of the text 'Bin ich's" have to be sung by 11 different voices within the choir.

Charles Francis wrote (June 14, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen] But looking at the facsimile Thomas provided, would you agree that at least one of the "Bin ich's" is sung by the "Evangel" (after all, that is what is written on the facsimile)?

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 14, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen] Very well said, Johan. Clarity is of the essence, in all forms of
communication, and this example by you is an excellent one.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 15, 2004):
The "Bin ich's" head count in the SMP

[To Charles Francis]
No one, including the Evangelist himself, is exempt from sin and guilt; that's a theological point (and the likely reason why Bach has him sing it). It has not a single thing to do, one way or another, with the head count of singers who deliver the total of 11 questions in that quick bit of time. Whether it's eight or 11 or 200, all present are guilty as members of fallen humanity, and it's important that the Evangelist (among others) does sing the question. A corollary of the theological point is: the 12th voice we expect, Judas Iscariot's, does NOT ask "Bin ich's" because he knows damn well that he's the one to do the deed of betraying Jesus (which is, indeed, the issue). Everybody else recognizes their own guilt in the succeeding chorale that is sung; but Judas is way ahead of the game, and keeps mum. That's Bach's clever theological construction there. Other interpretations are of course also possible, but that's the usual one that is presented, the normal way of understanding these several seconds of music.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 15, 2004):
p.s. As I recall, I first heard this theological interpretation in the little 7-inch disc of spoken commentary by Leonard Bernstein, the one that came with his LP set.

Donald Satz wrote (June 15, 2004):
[To Douglas Cowling] [the message was removed]

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 15, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Here are the vocal parts as numbered by the NBA in the KB II/5 on pp. 49ff.:
1) Soprano in Ripieno
2) Soprano in Ripieno
3) Soprano, Chori 1mi
4) Soprano Ancilla 1, Ancilla 2, Uxor Pilati
5) Alto 1. Chori
6) Tenore 1. Chori Evangelista
7) Basso 1. Chori Jesus
8) Basso Judas Pontifex
9) Basso Petrus, Pontifex, Kaiphas, Pontifex 2, Pilatus
23) Soprano Chori II.
24) Alto Chori II.
25) Tenore Chori II.
26) Basso Chori II. >
Question: do parts 4,6,8,and 9 contain the complete choir part or just the solo parts?

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 15, 2004):
Doug Cowling asks: >>Question: do parts 4,6,8,and 9 contain the complete choir part or just the solo parts? <<
Here, again, are the vocal parts as numbered by the NBA in the KB II/5 on pp. 49ff. this time with the number of sheets of paper (pages, front and back) contained in each. It is quite apparent which are ‘just solo parts’ or ‘complete choir parts.'

1) “Soprano in Ripieno” 1 sheet
2) “Soprano in Ripieno” 1 sheet
3) “Soprano, Chori 1mi” 7 sheets
4) “Soprano” “Ancilla 1, Ancilla 2, Uxor Pilati” 1 sheet
5) “Alto 1. Chori” 15 sheets
6) “Tenore 1. Chori” “Evangelista” 13 sheets
7) “Basso 1. Chori” “Jesus” 16 sheets
8) “Basso” “Judas” “Pontifex” 1 sheet
9) “Basso” “Petrus, Pontifex, Kaiphas, Pontifex 2, Pilatus” 2 sheets
23) “Soprano Chori II.” 6 sheets
24) “Alto Chori II.” 6 sheets
25) “Tenore Chori II.” 6 sheets
26) “Basso Chori II.” 6 sheets

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 15, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote: <
3) Soprano, Chori 1mi 7 sheets
4) Soprano Ancilla 1, Ancilla 2, Uxor Pilati 1 sheet
5) Alto 1. Chori 15 sheets
6) Tenore 1. Chori Evangelista 13 sheets
7) Basso 1. Chori Jesus 16 sheets >
I'm curious why 3) Soprano 1 did not have the "character" solos folded into his copy as was the case with 6) Tenor 1 and 7) Bass 1. I can understand that the Ripieno sopranos were in the chancel gallery and just waited until the end of Part 1 for "O Mensch bewein", but are we to envisage that 4) Soprano sat beside 3) Soprano 1 and only sang the three brief solos? Has anyone suggested that the two sopranos shared Soprano 1's copy, the second singer looking at his own sheet only when his brief solos came up?

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 15, 2004):
[To Douglas Cowling] Why couldn't these be orchestra members, playing instruments in other portions when not singing?

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 15, 2004):
[To Bradley Lehman] Are the oboe and oboe de caccia parts in the same part?

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 15, 2004):
Doug Cowling asks: >>Are the oboe and oboe de caccia parts in the same part?<<
Yes, as follows:

12) "Hautbois 1. Chori 1mi" 7 sheets contains both the oboe (oboe d'amore and oboe da caccia) I parts of Chorus I
13) "Hautbois 2. Chori 1mi" 6 sheets contains both the oboe (oboe d'amore and oboe da caccia) II parts of Chorus I


29) "Hautbois 1. Chori 2di" 4 sheets contains the oboe (oboe d'amore) I parts of Chorus II
30) "Hautbois 2. Chori 2di" 4 sheets contains the oboe (oboe d'amore) II parts of Chorus II

Thomas Braatz wrote (June 15, 2004):
Uri Golomb, quoting from Parrott’s (Essential Bach Choir, p. 83).
>>At least some of these extra parts include "Tacet" marks -- telling these singers, very explicitly, not to participate in the choruses and chorales (ibid, p. 200).<<
1) “Soprano in Ripieno” 1 sheet contains mvts. 1 & 29 with no “Tacet” marks for all the other missing mvts. (this part was copied by Bach himself)

2) “Soprano in Ripieno” same as above, but the copyist is copyist number 7.

3) “Soprano. Chori 1mi) 7 sheets, contains all the chorus and solo soprano parts allocated to Chorus I with the exception of those contained in Part 4); otherwise there are “Tacet” or pause/rest markings for all the other mvts. Bach copied only mvt. 1 up to measure 76 (the 2nd note) all the rest was copied by copyist 1

4) “Soprano” “Ancilla 1 & 2, Uxor Pilati” 1 sheet contains only the soprano part for mvts. 38a and 45a with 38a filled out with the necessary rests and the beginning of the text (incipits) and 45a is introduced with mvt. 44 with rests leading up to the soprano entrance. There are no “Tacet” markings whatsoever. This part is completely autograph (in Bach’s own handwriting)

7) “Basso 1. Chori” “Jesus” 8 sheets contains all the choral mvts. as well as the bass solos for Chorus I with the exception of Parts 8) and 9) listed below. There are “Tacet” markings or rests indicated for all the remaining mvts. Copyist 1

8) “Basso” “Judas, Pontifex 1” 1 sheet with only 7 lines (of staff, notes, text) on it. Contains the parts of Judas and Pontifex I with the following titles: “Pars 1” and the mvts. 7, 11, 26 introduced each time with beginning text of these sections; “Pars 2” mvts. [40], 41. There are absolutely no ‘Tacet” markings for any of the other missing mvts. This part is completely autograph. [The brackets indicate a sketch of the material of the preceding mvt. 40 so that the singer will know when exactly to begin with mvt. 41.]

9) “Basso” “Petrus, Pontifex (Kaiphas), Pontifex 2, Pilatus” 1 sheet, both sides are written upon; contains the parts for the above named ‘Soliquenten’ with the following titles/designations: “Pars 1” mvt. 16 introduced with the incipit as above; Pars 2” mvts. [32], 33, 36a, [41b], 41c, 43, 45a, 47, 50c, 66c. There are “Tacet” markings for the mvts skipped, but not for mvts. 67 and 68 which follow. This part is completely autograph.

Once again Parrott:
>>At least some of these extra parts include "Tacet" marks -- telling these singers, very explicitly, *not* to participate in the choruses and chorales (ibid, p. 200).<<
Parts 4), 7), 8), 9) of which part 7) is the major bass part containing arias and the part of Jesus. This part should, by definition (it is not an extra part,) then be excluded. This leaves:

Part 4) no “Tacet” markings whatsoever

Part 8) no “Tacet” markings whatsoever

Part 9) contains “Tacet” markings for the mvts. missing in between, but note that this single sheet of music contains 4 separate roles – more than any other sheet in the set.
Parrott’s statement should more correctly read: “Only one of these extra parts includes “Tacet” marks – this was done mainly to avoid confusion on a sheet filled with many extra parts.” Parrott’s observation does not apply since Bach, by omitting the “Tacet” markings for the final 2 mvts. of the SMP is personally saying: *Do* participate in the grand conclusion to this profound musical composition. Bach did not want this work to end with an OVPP ‘whimper’ but rather with all the available musical forces joining in.

This is only one of a number of Parrott’s misleading statements based upon erroneous information just as he is guilty of a misuse of iconographical ‘evidence, as I have already pointed out previously.

John Pike wrote (June 15, 2004):
[To Thomas Braatz] OK. Maybe I made a mistake. I have to do it all from memory because I have a busy day job and look at my e mails at work when time permits. Unlike some, I don't have time to sit at home and check everything I write by looking at the original sources/NBA etc. The key point is that there is only one part for each of the singers in the SMP. If you want to imagine Bach performed this piece with more than OVPP, you have to consider that he had singers sharing parts. Since you have apparently read Rifkin's essay, and inwardly digested it go back and check it and you will see that in this highly scholarly account, he gives compelling reasons for thinking that singers did not share parts. If you disagree, give us a point by point repudiation of his statements with reasons why you believe they are unfounded.

Two other points. 1. in my original e mail, I first thanked you for your posting. The second sentence was to encourage thought, not to insult you, so why did you find it necessary to send such an unpleasant e mail in return. I am not the only one on this list by a long way who makes mistakes in their e mails. A simple correction would have sufficed.

2. When did you ever play violin (or, indeed, any instrument) in an orchestra? I have, indeed, shared a part with another player for almost all of my orchestral experience (over 35 years). I also regularly play chamber music and solos (concertos etc), where I play a single dedicated part (this is not intended to prove anything).

John Pike wrote (June 15, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote: < Why would John Pike want to correct my information on this in the first place, since I was giving precisely what I had found? >
[To Thomas Braatz] Thank you for listing the parts as given in the NBA.

I wasn't trying to correct anything you said in your original e mail. There was no mention of 13 parts, let alone a listing of what they were. I have never pretended to be as knowledgeable as you and would never take it upon myself to correct a factual statement you had made.

All I was trying to do was to encourage thought about the practicalities of performing the SMP with the limited performing materials and other resources available.

Gabriel Jackson wrote (June 15, 2004):
John Pike wrote: "I wasn't trying to correct anything you said in your original e mail. There was no mention of 13 parts, let alone a listing of what they were. I have never pretended to be as knowledgeable as you and would never take it upon myself to correct a factual statement you had made."
Well, there is knowledge and there is knowledge! Possession of information, which is Mr Braatz's forte, is by no means the same as knowledge, in my book.

John Pike wrote (June 15, 2004):
[To Johan van Veen] And is Mr Braatz seriously trying to tell us that this apparent omission undermines the whole of Andrew Parrott's work?

Bradley Lehman wro(June 15, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote: < Bach did not want this work to end with an OVPP ‘whimper’ but rather with all the available musical forces joining in. >
You know this how?

< This is only one of a number of Parrott’s misleading statements based upon erroneous information just as he is guilty of a misuse of iconographical ‘evidence, as I have already pointed out previously. >
Who is being "misled" by Parrott? Specialists in the field who know their business better than you do? Members of the casual public who for some inexplicable reason need your priestly intermediation (though without any training or practical experience informing it) to understand what they can read for themselves? Who decides Parrott's "guilt" here: a jury of his peers, or you?

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 15, 2004):
Thomas Braatz wrote: <
1) Soprano in Ripieno 1 sheet contains mvts. 1 & 29 with no Tacet marks for all the other missing mvts. (this part was copied by Bach himself)
2) Soprano in Ripieno same as above, but the copyist is copyist number 7. >
Has anyone speculated why there are two parts for the Ripieno Soprani? Is their placement in the "Paradise" loft over the chancel arch an assured fact? Is there any marking in the parts or in the full score which indicates doubling on the organ? I seem to remember someone saying that some performances may have replaced the voices with the organ. Mendelssohn had the four soloists sing the chorale in his performance -- not Bach but an eminently practical solution.


OVPP & Bach's resource limitations [BCML]

Dale Gedcke wrote (June 10, 2004):
I suspect that many members of the Bach Cantatas discussion group have quite different interests. Some are performers, some are professional musicians, some simply listen enthusiastically to Bach's music. Some are primarily interested in the historical facts about Bach and his music. Some view themselves as musicologists. And, .... among all those categories, some are professionals and some are amateurs. I hope all of us can be tolerant of the diversity of interests and expertise, and respond to the individual biases with sensitivity. There is much to be gained from hearing the diverse points of view in the discussion.

I mention the above thought, because I detect an emotional intolerance in the recent discussion of OVPP, which tends to diminish the useful communication of information. For those interested in what resources Bach composed for, there are a variety of approaches to investigating that issue.

Here is yet another approach that is targeted at soliciting informed answers from those who have delved much more deeply into the research and documentation that is available.

I am not an avid church-attender. But, I have enough contacts with musicians and non-musicians who are, to have formed a perspective that raises questions about Bach's situation.

I know from my cousin, who has been a music teacher, organist and choir director for a long career in Canada, that raising enough money to pay for the performance of music in a church is a serious challenge. Churches must raise enough money to pay their clerics, support staff, maintenance, and organist. That requires a large and generous church membership. Small churches struggle, and many are closing for lack of adequate funding.

Did Bach experience that same problem? What information do we have about the extent of his financial funding?

Choir members are typically volunteers from the church membership, and they usually serve without pay. That limits the availability of quality singers. Did Bach have a similar difficulty in recruiting quality singers?

In the last decade, there has been a trend in North American Protestant Churches to bring small orchestras and bands into the church services. Again, there is usually not any money to pay those musicians. So, one tries to draw them as volunteers from the church membership. That restricts the pool of talented musicians that is available.

Occasionally, a church can fund a paid group of musicians. For example, one of the larger churches in Knoxville, TN is having their organ overhauled. It will be out of service for the July 4th Sunday. Consequently, they have hired the East Tennessee Concert Band (of which I am a member) to provide the music at that service. Our concerts normally include about 50 musicians. The church cannot accommodate that many, because of space restrictions. Therefore the band will be pared down to under 20 players for this gig.

What kind of difficulties did Bach face with conjuring up enough qualified musicians, and arranging enough orchestra space?

I suspect the 4 resource categories: funding, availability of good singers, the supply of good instrumentalists, and available space must have controlled a lot of Bach's musical practices. What do we know about those limitations and how they shaped his music?

That's my main question.

One other point of curiosity, if anyone wishes to address it, is what is the history of the changes in thinking about "one performer per part" vs. "multi performers per part" with respect to Bach's Cantatas? I am looking for a synopsis of the time line and the passionate advocates at each point in the history.

I hope this is not too much to ask.

Bradley Lehman wrote (June 10, 2004):
Dale Gedcke wrote: < What kind of difficulties did Bach face with conjuring up enough qualified musicians, and arranging enough orchestra space?
I suspect the 4 resource categories: funding, availability of good singers, the supply of good instrumentalists, and available space must have controlled a lot of Bach's musical practices. What do we know about those limitations and how they shaped his music?
That's my main question.
One other point of curiosity, if anyone wishes to address it, is what is the history of the changes in thinking about "one performer per part" vs. "multi performers per part" with respect to Bach's Cantatas? I am looking for a synopsis of the time line and the passionate advocates at each point in the history.
I hope this is not too much to ask. >
Those are all exactly the questions addressed by Parrott in his book, and he explains it better than any summary could do here. It's too much to try to answer here (especially as it would lead inevitably to interminable wrangling), and unnecessary to try to summarize: just go get his excellent book! It has a section for each of your questions here: Parrott has anticipated you well! :)

John Pike wrote (June 10, 2004):
[To Dale Gedcke] Thank you for these most interesting questions, Dale. I am finding a wealth of information on all these questions in Wolff's book on Bach, "The Learned Musician", far too much to quote here.

Funding of Church activities in the UK is notoriously difficult. They receive no state funding and all income is derived from donations from the general public/congregations. Church attendance has dwindled markedly over the years as we become an increasingly secular society. A mechanism exists for the wealthier churches in a diocese (the area served by a Bishop, usually a large city, surrounded by many other towns in the county) to help out the poorer ones financially. Income derived from collections is, to a certain extent, pooled for distribution to other churches, depending on the attendance at a particular church. The church I attend is particularly wealthy (in common with many evangelical (or "low") churches, and is situated in a very affluent part of Bristol, which is, in turn, one of the most wealthy cities in the UK. A large number of the congregation are very wealthy and they travel from miles away to our church for the high standard of teaching and a style of worship which they enjoy and which is not always available elsewhere. Over recent years we have had some massive expenditure on a major rennovation of the now fine organ (costing 60K UKP), which was becoming unplayable, and a new PA system, costing 100K UKP. All this money was saved over the years from collections and by last minute appeals. As a thanksgiving for raising the money needed for our projects, we were then asked by our vicar and his team to find extra money to help fund a newsound system for a very poor church in a very deprived part of Bristol. All this means considerable generosity from the congregation, and it was not easy.

Unlike in germany, where a tax is paid to the church, if you are a member, donations in England are entirely voluntary.

There are many other things it would be good to have at our church (many relating to the very active musical life) that just cannot be afforded from collections on their own. Indeed, we used to have an assistant director of music but the funding was withdrawn by the church's governing body, to pay for other things which they regarded as being of higher priority.



Continue on Part 14


Choir Form: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
One-Voice-Per-Part (OVPP):
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 | Part 15 | Part 16 | Part 17 | Part 18 | Part 19
Books about OVPP:
The Essential Bach Choir [by Andrew Parrott] | Bach's Choral Ideal [by Joshua Rifkin]: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

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Last update: ýMay 30, 2005 ý21:59:11