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Weimar - Bach Research in 3D: Computer Reconstruction of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Palace Church a Success
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Douglas Cowling wrote (August 26, 2005):
[To Aryeh Oron] This is a wonderful visual resource! Does anyone know if a 3D computer reconstruction has been created for St. Thomas, Leipzig? I would love to explore the performance space of Bach's cantatas on my computer.

Eric Bergerud wrote (August 26, 2005):
[To Aryeh Oron] Wow! I am impressed (despite the nagging trouble I've learned to expect from Quicktime.) I certainly do hope they carry forward their plan to do some Weimar cantatas (21 maybe?) in sonics fit for a Duke. Thankee Aryeh.

Alan Burguieres wrote (August 26, 2005):
[To Douglas Cowling] Well, it doesn't work on my computer. I use firefox. I clicked on 'Rundgang' and got a java error message... If anybody has an idea how to make it work...

Eric Bergerud wrote (August 27, 2005):
[To Alan Burguieres] I'd download a full version of Apple's Quicktime player: free the last time I checked. And hope your video card is relatively standard: I'm not sure that Quicktime likes cards hyped for games etc. The kicker is that QT will try to make itself default player for all your video files which I'm not sure is good. You can prevent that, but it does mean looking at the online manual.

Alan Burguieres wrote (August 28, 2005):
[To Eric Bergerud] I've tried that, to no avail. Then it occurred to me that I still have MSIE and opened the page with it: it works! Thanks for the help in any case!

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 28, 2005):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
>>Does anyone know if a 3D computer reconstruction has been created for St. Thomas, Leipzig? I would love to explore the performance space of Bach's cantatas on my computer.<<
Such a 3D-reconstruction would be highly imaginary and based upon the already creative imaginations of engravers such as Friedrich Groschuff (1710) who distorted many aspects of reality for their own artistic purposes. Arnold Schering put in much time and effort in attempting to uncover anything at all concerning the ground plans for St. Thomas Church before all the major expansion and renovations took place, but to no avail. Schering reports: "Die von mir mit freundlicher Unterstützung des Herrn Diplomingenieur Hans Flehr unternommenen Versuche, sachliche Unterlagen zur Erforschung des Innenraums der Thomaskirche im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert zu finden, sind bisher erfloglos geblieben." p. 155 footnote "Johann Sebastian Bachs Leipziger Kirchenmusik" [Leipzig, 1936] ["The various attempts undertaken on my part, with the friendly assistance of engineering graduate Hans Flehr, to uncover/discover physical/factual documents necessary for investigating/determining what the inner space of St. Thomas Church was like in the 17th and 18th centuries, have remained unsuccessful and remain so even now."]

I am certain that there will always be attempts to 'recreate' the acoustics of St. Thomas Church just as there have been serious attempts in the past to do so. Schering is famous for a few conjectures of his own: the performing area of the main choir & orchestra in St. Thomas Church. Schering relates in another footnote on p. 162 that a certain H. Bagenal had an article published in "Music and Letters" XI (1930) p. 2ff in which he covered the connections between Bach's music and a specific acoustical analysis of St. Thomas Church. Schering rejected such a treatment with good reasons: the present condition of St. Thomas Church does not allow for any true acoustical connections to Bach's music to be ascertained since no one (not even an engraver like Groschuff) can deliver sufficient factual information for a computer 3D engineer to even begin to make a reasonable projection about the acoustical situation which Bach experienced during his tenure in Leipzig. Barring the discovery of the long-lost ground plans for St. Thomas Church before the major renovations took place, there is no way that we will be able to re-establish Bach's acoustical environment and say that we are hearing it the same way that he had heard it in the 1720s and 1730s.

Douglas Cowling wrote (August 28, 2005):
Thomas Braatz wrote:
< Barring the discovery of the long-lost ground plans for St. Thomas Church before the major renovations took place, there is no way that we will be able to re-establish Bach's acoustical environment and say that we are hearing it the same way that he had heard it in the 1720s and 1730s. >
Wolff includes two computer-generated reconstructions of the interior of St. Thomas from 19th century watercolours (pp. 266-67). I'm not so much interested in an acoustical reconstruction than a visual speculation of the space in the choir gallery? What furniture was permanetn? Moveable? Where were the singers and instrumentalists placed? How wnas the space lighted? Was music stored in the gallery? How were instruments brought up to the gallery? It would be fascinating to bring together architectural survivals form other churches and speculate.

Thomas Braatz wrote (August 28, 2005):
[To Douglas Cowling] Arnold Schering, in his book "Johann Sebastian Bachs Leipziger Kirchenmusik" [Leipzig, 1936], speculates about many things and brings together information from earlier historical sources as well as the theories advanced by later musicologists about the placement of musicians in St. Thomas Church, the dimensions of a speculative "Schülerrchor" [this refers to space near the organ where the choir and instrumentalists assembled, about the heating, candles, an extremely large hour-glass, the narrow passageways and ramps leading up to this combination organ-loft and performance area, etc.] I do not have the time now to translate the numerous passages in this book that refer to these matters. Hopefully someone might consider translating this book and presenting the numerous diagrams and illustrations.

 

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