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Cantata BWV 131
Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir
Discussions - Part 5

Continue from Part 4

BWV 131 [Continue]

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 3, 2009):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
Joel Figen wrote:
Ed Myskowski wrote:
<<< I note Aryeh's response to my question, stating that the original Hebrew of Psalm 130 corresponds to the modern C. English depths. That in turn would make it easy to impute a continuum of accurate translation, for several thousand years. I wonder. >>>
<< Efforts were made to keep biblical translations "accurate." Often there really is no way to do that, but they try, and yes, there is a continuum here, from the Hebrew, to the Septuagint, to the Vulgate, to the various English translations. >>
< Actually, there is a flaw in your statement here, Ed. >
Ed Myskowski replies:
I belieive the reference to a flaw is to Joels response, rather than to my statement. Not that I necessarily accept the description: flaw.

DGL:
< Thirdly, the process you mention was not always followed. In principle, for the most part it was followed. However, in many cases, words were not immediately able to be translated to another language from Hebrew (or Greek), much like the case of many of the great Evangelical (Lutheran) Chorales from before 1750. In the case of the latter, it is because the poetic archaic German used in them cannot be easilly translated. In such cases, the meaning of the words is translated into the other language. >
EM:
In the original Hebrew, there is a word which means something like deep or depths. All of the intermediate translations are irrelevant. What matters is:
(1) What did Bach (relying on Luther?) think the word meant.
(2) Do we now (09 ECE) think Bach and Luther got it right, or do we need to apply interpretation to the text, while enjoying Bachs music.

Personally, I apply interpretation to everything, because <everything you think you know is wrong>. Occasionally, I stumble across some fool who agrees with me. We usually laugh a lot.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 3, 2009):
< In German, however, this transformation is more regular, involving -e and umlaut. The semantic equivalent in English would be to add -ness, which always (?) carries the meaning but isn't always the most correct form (e.g., boredom/boredness). >
My spouse has the habit of beginning every response to a question with NO, unless the answer is actually NO, in which case she begins the answer with YES. I have become accustomed/bored.

Also, whenever I begin a sentence with well, she immediately interjects: well is a deep subject. The depths of human relations.

Joel Figen wrote (June 3, 2009):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Actually, Joel, it can be, since the plurality or singularity of a phrase (i.e., "aus der Tiefe") relies on the noun that is in the phrase ("Tiefe"). The singular, in this case, would be "Tief".
In German, "e" or "en" on the end of a noun refers to more than one (i.e., plural). >
If you need instruction in German grammar, get a book, a teacher, or just read the "German grammar" article on wikipedia. You literally have no clue, sorry to be so blunt.

< The difference between the two Luther treatments of Psalm 130 is that in one ("Aus der Tiefe(n) rufe(t) ich, Herr, zu dir"), he uses the noun, whereas the other ("Aus tiefer Not(h) schrei' ich zu dir"), he uses the adjective (note: "er" on the end of nouns changes the nouns to adjectives [except for such words as "Klein" and "Gross", which are adjectives already). >
Once again, this is so far from the truth that I have to ask where you get such ideas. surely not from any teacher, text, or educated speaker of the german language. Very possibly you had some exposure to german when you were a really little kid, and never learned any real grammar. Anyway, trust me on this: you have a whole lot to learn, and most of it isn't particularly english-like, despite the close relationship between the two languages. German is far more conservative, in the Indo-European sense, retaining things like gender, declensions, cases, and so on, that english lost about a thousand years ago. Without knowing all that, you can't really make any meaningful remarks about german grammar.

Just to take one thing: the -er in "tiefer" is the ending of the dative or genitive singular feminine in the strong adjective declension, which is required in this phrase because there's no article preceding it. the dative case is required by the preposition "aus" (Aus, ausser, bei, mit nach seit von zu: immer mit dem Dativ zu - a little rhyme from first year german) Trust me on this. I'm not wrong. If you don't understand this analysis, you never took german, and don't know the language beyond baby level. oh yeah - tief is an adjective, "deep".

There IS a suffix -er that can be added to place names, and the like, to mean "person associated with" and such like, e.g., Berlin, Berliner. I think you're confusing that -er with this one.

Georg F.E. Fischer wrote (June 3, 2009):
BWV 131 - Luther translated: "Aus der tieffen"

Joel Figen wrote:
< If you need instruction in German grammar, get a book, a teacher, or just read the "german grammar" article on wikipedia. You literally have no clue, sorry to be so blunt. >
I wonder how many native German speakers participate in this specific discussion. I admit that the case is complicated, but after a few investigations it's rather clear to me:
(1) Luther translated Psalm 130 "Aus der tieffen / Ruffe ich HERR zu dir" (according to a facsimile of his 1534 bible).
(2) Bach took that rather literally.
(3) The BWV Kleine Ausgabe 1998 lists "131 Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir" (which I think is the appropriate modern writing).
The original hebrew text probably meant a plural of "depth". For example,
(4) The recent translation in "right language" writes "Aus Tiefen rufe ich dich, Ewiger ...".
Luther translated into a singular "Aus der tieffen", where the ending "n" is the old, abstract form which is still sometimes used today, for example in the Lord's prayer "dein Wille geschehe auf Erden wie im Himmel".

As Joel pointed out, many (but not all) German adjectives like "tief", "gut" (but not "alt") can be substantivated by capitalizing, umlaut shift and a trailing "e". Sometimes, plural forms are also used. Examples for such forms are:
der Berg ist hoch, ein hohe&#341; Berg - the mountain is high, a high mountain
die Höhe des Bergs - the height of the mountain
in den Höhen des Schwarzwalds - in the heights of Black Forest

Joel Figen wrote (June 4, 2009):
Georg F.E. Fischer wrote:
< (1) Luther translated Psalm 130 "Aus der tieffen / Ruffe ich HERR zu dir" (according to a facsimile of his 1534 bible). >
1. Do you know why Luther doubled the f's? Was that standard at the time? is this part of the same sound shift that lengthened the u in "gut"? (In MHG it was spelled guot and pronounced gutt - it's still pronounced short in Yiddish, at least in some forms of Yiddish)

2. Some English bibles set LORD in upper case, but only where it stands for the Hebrew tetragrammaton, which has been considered unpronounceable and untranslatable since before the first official translation from the Hebrew (i.e., the Septuagint.) However, where it translates Hebrew words that render more directly, Lord or lord is used. Did Luther do the same thing, or did he write HERR because "Herr" would look just like any ordinary noun?

3. I don't think the Lord's Prayer is a good example of the "abstract" -n still being in use, because it's an old text that hasn't been updated (thankfully.) The text is still in use, but the grammatical form isn't productive of new uses, as far as I know. Can you think of any recent writers who have used it? (In the memo from Thomas Braatz, recently cited, he stated that this form had gone out of use by the time of Goethe. But I think Goethe wrote "Roeslein auf der Heiden" - so there goes that argument.)

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 4, 2009):
Joel Figen wrote:
< 1. Do you know why Luther doubled the f's? Was that standard at the time? is this part of the same sound shift that lengthened the u in "gut"? >
As a singer I would want to know how "Tieffe" was pronounced: is the double "f" sounded? Is it "Tie-fe or "Tief-fe"? Or is it just an orthographic convention that was regularlized in the 19th century?

Question to our native German-speaking listers ... When the word "ja" is the first word sung, some German singers and choirs seem to use a dipthong effect that's almost like an initial "t". I hear it sometimes in the 9th Symphony when the choir enters on the syncopated, "Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele".

My "ewige Freude" in the Brahms Requiem was corrected by my German neighbour last night. I was just happy I didn't hyperventilate in the "Die Erlöseten des Herrn" fugue.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 4, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< DGL
Thirdly, the process you mention was not always followed. In principle, for the most part it was followed. However, in many cases, words were not immediately able to be translated to another language from Hebrew (or Greek), much like the case of many of the great Evangelical (Lutheran) Chorales from before 1750. In the case of the latter, it is because the poetic archaic German used in them cannot be easilly translated. In such cases, the meaning of the words is translated into the other language.
EM:
In the original Hebrew, there is a word which means something like deep or depths. All of the intermediate translations are irrelevant. What matters is:
(1) What did Bach (relying on
Luther?) think the word meant. >
Depths (as I pointed out already).

< (2) Do we now (09 ECE) think Bach and Luther got it right, or do we need to apply interpretation to the text, while enjoying Bachs music. >
They got it right in this case.

< Personally, I apply interpretation to everything, because <everything you think you know is wrong>. Occasionally, I stumble across some fool who agrees with me. We usually laugh a lot. >
Interpretation only applies in translation when the actual word is not translateable, as I stated earlier.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 4, 2009):
Joel Figen wrote:
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
<< The difference between the two Luther treatments of Psalm 130 is that in one ("Aus der Tiefe(n) rufe(t) ich, Herr, zu dir"), he uses the noun, whereas the other ("Aus tiefer Not(h) schrei' ich zu dir"), he uses the adjective (note: "er" on the end of nouns changes the nouns to adjectives [except for such words as "Klein" and "Gross", which are adjectives already). >>
< Once again, this is so far from the truth that I have to ask where you get such ideas. surely not from any teacher, text, or educated speaker of the german language. Very possibly you had some exposure to german when you were a really little kid, and never learned any real grammar. Anyway, trust me on this: you have a whole lot to learn, and most of it isn't particularly english-like, despite the close relationship between the two languages. German is far more conservative, in the Indo-European sense, retaining things like gender, declensions, cases, and so on, that english lost about a thousand years ago. Without knowing all that, you can't really make any meaningful remarks about german grammar. >
Actually, it is right on. Look at the useage in both cases. In case A ("Aus der Tiefe"), it is a noun. In case B ("Aus tiefer Not(h)"), it is an adjective. And the grammar lesson is also right on (I have taken some Collegiate German courses, as well as teaching myself).

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 4, 2009):
Joel Figen wrote:
< Just to take one thing: the -er in "tiefer" is the ending of the dative or genitive singular feminine in the strong adjective declension, which is required in this phrase because there's no article preceding it. the dative case is required by the preposition "aus" (Aus, ausser, bei, mit nach seit von zu: immer mit dem Dativ zu - a little rhyme from first year german) Trust me on this. I'm not wrong. If you don't understand this analysis, you never took german, and don't know the language beyond baby level. oh yeah - tief is an adjective, "deep".
There IS a suffix -er that can be added to place names, and the like, to mean "person associated with" and such like, e.g., Berlin, Berliner. I think you're confusing that -er with this one. >
No, Joel, I am not. Even "tiefer" is an adjective. Case in point: the different types of performance methods in Bach's day (i.e., "tiefer Kammerton", etc.) Here, too, it is an adjective (describing the type of Kammerton [there was more than one used]).

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 4, 2009):
Georg F.E. Fischer wrote:
Joel Figen wrote:
<< If you need instruction in German grammar, get a book, a teacher, or just read the "german grammar" article on wikipedia. You literally have no clue, sorry to be so blunt. >>
< I wonder how many native German speakers participate in this specific discussion. I admit that the case is complicated, but after a few investigations it's rather clear to me:
(1)
Luther translated Psalm 130 "Aus der tieffen / Ruffe ich HERR zu dir" (according to a facsimile of his 1534 bible). >
However, he also (in his Chorales) used "Aus tiefer Not(h)" as well as "Aus der Tiefe".

< (2) Bach took that rather literally. >
So did Luther.

< (3) The BWV Kleine Ausgabe 1998 lists "131 Aus der Tiefen rufe ich, Herr, zu dir" (which I think is the appropriate modern writing). >
Yes, it is. And they also use in the same book (I believe) "fuer" instead of "vor" in the movements of the Johannes-Passion BWV 245.

< The original hebrew text probably meant a plural of "depth". For example,
(4) The recent translation in "right language" writes "Aus Tiefen rufe ich dich, Ewiger ...".
Luther translated into a singular "Aus der tieffen", where the ending "n" is the old, abstract form which is still sometimes used today, for example in the Lord's prayer "dein Wille geschehe auf Erden wie im Himmel". >
However, he used it in the plural, not the singular. If he wanted singular, he would have used "Tief" (no "e" on the end). The "der" simply means "the", and "Aus" means "Out of" or "From".

< As Joel pointed out, many (but not all) German adjectives like "tief", "gut" (but not "alt") can be substantivated by capitalizing, umlaut shift and a trailing "e". Sometimes, plural forms are also used. Examples for such forms are:
der Berg ist hoch, ein hohe&#341; Berg - the mountain is high, a high mountain
die Höhe des Bergs - the height of the mountain
in den Höhen des Schwarzwalds - in the heights of Black Forest >
However, this is not one of those cases. It is a noun, not an adjective, and a plural noun at that. In his other Chorale setting of this text, Luther uses the adjective (namely "Aus tiefer Not(h)").

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 4, 2009):
Joel Figen wrote:
Georg F.E. Fischer wrote:
<< (1) Luther translated Psalm 130 "Aus der tieffen / Ruffe ich HERR zu dir" (according to a facsimile of his 1534 bible). >>
< 1. Do you know why
Luther doubled the f's? Was that standard at the time? >
There was no standard written German in Luther's time. I personally believe it was just simply to imitate the spoken word.

< is this part of the same sound shift that lengthened the u in "gut"? (In MHG it was spelled guot and pronounced gutt - it's still pronounced short in Yiddish, at least in some forms of Yiddish) >
Actually, in German, it is pronounced long.

< 2. Some English bibles set LORD in upper case, but only where it stands for the Hebrew tetragrammaton, which has been considered unpronounceable and untranslatable since before the first official translation from the Hebrew (i.e., the Septuagint.) However, it translates Hebrew words that render more directly, Lord or lord is used. Did Luther do the same thing, or did he write HERR because "Herr" would look just like any ordinary noun? >
He did, but you bring up an interesting point here.

Luther, in all the Bibles he was associated with (ending with the posthumous 1546 version) used three different versions of "Herr":

1.) HERR, meaning the Lord (God the Father).

2.) HErr, meaning the Lord (God the Son).

and

3.) Herr, meaning Lord or Sir such as in the part of Matthew 27 where the Chief Priests and Pharisees approach Pilate to request a watch over the grave of Jesus.

< 3. I don't think the Lord's Prayer is a good example of the "abstract" -n still being in use, because it's an old text that hasn't been updated (thankfully.) The text is still in use, but the grammatical form isn't productive of new uses, as far as I know. Can you think of any recent writers who have used it? (In the memo from Thomas Braatz, recently cited, he stated that this form had gone out of use by the time of Goethe. But I think Goethe wrote "Roeslein auf der Heiden" - so there goes that argument.) >
Actually, Joel, I have seen cases where the "n" is not used in the Lord's Prayer even before the time of Goethe. And also Thomas may be wrong here, because "Heiden" is still used in modern German (the plural of "Heide" ["Heath] or in referrence to the heathens).

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (June 4, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:
Joel Figen wrote:
<< 1. Do you know why Luther doubled the f's? Was that standard at the time? is this part of the same sound shift that lengthened the u in "gut"? >>
< As a singer I would want to know how "Tieffe" was pronounced: is the double "f" sounded? Is it "Tie-fe or "Tief-fe"? Or is it just an orthographic convention that was regularlized in the 19th century? >
pronounced as single "f". It was (I believe) simply an attempt to imitate verbal useage that Luther used the "ff" in his Bible translations.

< Question to our native German-speaking listers ... When the word "ja" is the first word sung, some German singers and choirs seem to use a dipthong effect that's almost like an initial "t". I hear it sometimes in the 9th Symphony when the choir enters on the syncopated, "Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele". >
Actually, it is pronounced like our letter "y" in the word "yet". Also the "ch" on the end of words is pronounced like the Spanish pronounce the letter "j" (an issue I have with many people who insist on pronouncing it like a "k". The only time it is so pronounced is at the beginning of words [so says any teachers I have studied under]).

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 4, 2009):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Actually, it is pronounced like our letter "y" in the word "yet". >
Yes, that's standard, but this vocalization on an initial "ja" sounds a consonant. I'll look for a audio clip.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 4, 2009):
DC:
<< As a singer I would want to know how "Tieffe" was pronounced: is the double "f" sounded? Is it "Tie-fe or "Tief-fe"? Or is it just an orthographic convention that was regularlized in the 19th century? >>
DGL:
< pronounced as single "f". It was (I believe) simply an attempt to imitate verbal useage that Luther used the "ff" in his Bible translations. >
EM:
I am confused. Does not DGL opinion that ff imitates verbal usage suggest that it was in fact pronounced as double, rather than single, as stated?

Joel Figen wrote (June 4, 2009):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Actually, it is right on. Look at the useage in both cases. In case A ("Aus der Tiefe"), it is a noun. In case B ("Aus tiefer Not(h)"), it is an adjective. And the grammar lesson is also right on (I have taken some Collegiate German courses, as well as teaching myself). >
I think I explained most of this in my very first post. While you are technically correct here, nevertheless, according to your previous post, you are right for the wrong reason. the -er doesn't make it an adjective. - it's already an adjective and the -er is a case ending - dative singular,feminine, strong adjectival declension, to be exact , as required by the facts that

a) it follows the preposition "aus", which requires the dative
b) there's no article to carry the case marking, thereby necessitating the strong declension
c) the noun "Not(h)" is feminine, singular, and though you can't see it, dative.

This also explains why the noun in this case doesn't particularly bear the singular/plural marking: "aus der" or "aus tiefer" can only be singular. To be plural, it would have to be "aus den" or "aus tiefen". There's nothing controversial about this. Everyone who speaks "correct" high german knows this, and it hasn't changed since Bach's or even Luther's time in any significant degree. The only thing controversial about this is your claim to know any german at all.

In the first case, the article "der" carries the same case-number-gender message. And "Tiefe" is a noun of quality, derived from the lexical adjective "tief" by the method that both I and and Mr Fischer spelled out: capitalize, add -e, and umlaut if possible. He's a native German, I'm not, but I'm a real good student of German and many other languages, and I'veknown of this transformation since german I, at least. The question of the day isn't whether we're right or not, but rather, what's wrong with you.

the thing that started this thread was the question of why, in case A, we sometimes see it rendered with a final n, and sometimes without. Mr Braatz, who I believe is a native german, left us with a memo, explsaining that it's an obsolete case ending that still shows up on occasion. Mr Fischer and I both concur. What's more, we both already knew that, without readingMr Braatz's memo. Your opinion is irrelevant. NO other explanation is possible. It has nothing to do with singular and plural. It has everything to do with a declensional class in transit over time.With or without the n it's still singular. A whole California Job Case ofn's wouldn't make it plural in this context.

The more interesting question is why Luther chose to ignore the plural number, as used in the hebrew and in the vulgate. Once we get clear on what the grammar really is, we can address that. I hope it's clear now, but I suspect you're still chugging on fumes, and will obfuscate as long as anyone pays any attention to you.

If you don't know this stuff and still have other opinions, and still have no clue that you don't know what you're talking about, I can only conclude that you (choose one)

a) never took german
b) registered but didn't pass german
c) have suffered serious brain damage since passing german.
d) have absolutely no power of self reflection.
e) are schizophrenic and off your meds

Everyone has to be able sooner or later to look at his behavior and admit to being clueless, wrong, and utterly boorish. You are past later. It's clear that what you've taught yourself is completely incorrect. Please stop trying to convince me that you really know 2+2=17. And please stop trying to convince anyone that you really know german. This is my absolute last comment on this topic. I don't want to hear from you again. And if you reply, I won't answer.

Joel Figen wrote (June 4, 2009):
Douglas Cowling wrote:

I'm not native, but almost

< As a singer I would want to know how "Tieffe" was pronounced: is the double "f" sounded? Is it "Tie-fe or "Tief-fe"? Or is it just an orthographic >convention that was regularlized in the 19th century? >
the extra f would be silent. However, "ruffe" would probably be pronounced with a short u. (I don't recommend doing this - that was Luther's spelling, not Bach's.)

< Question to our native German-speaking listers ... When the word "ja" is the first word sung, some German singers and choirs seem to use a dipthong effect that's almost like an initial "t". I hear it sometimes in the 9th Symphony when the choir eon the syncopated, "Ja, wer auch nur eine Seele". >
What you're hearing is a glottal stop, I believe. Natives probably wouldn't notice it particularly, but it's taught in german classes. There should also be a glottal stop before "aus" or any word that starts with a vowel. (English uses a softer glottal stop (maybe a glottal glide)in similar situations, and it's not required in singing English. Whether or not to use itin singing german depends on how colloquial you want to be. If you're looking for a smooth, italianate line, you can leave itout, pretty much.

Joel Figen wrote (June 4, 2009):
Ed Myskowski wrote:
< I am confused. Does not DGL opinion that ff imitates verbal usage suggest that it was in fact pronounced as double, rather than single, as stated? >
I don't think there are any PRONOUNCED double consonants in german. In italian, double consonants are held longer, but not in german, english, french or spanish (with the exception of double r and l). most of the double consonants in Italian result from the assimilation of a morpheme-final consonant. So ad+restare > arrestare.

In (all?) germanic languages, double consonants are merely an orthographic device, indicating that the previous vowel is or used to be short.

Joel Figen wrote (June 4, 2009):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< Actually, it is pronounced like our letter "y" in the word "yet". Also the "ch" on the end of words is pronounced like the Spanish pronounce the letter "j" (an issue I have with many people who insist on pronouncing it like a "k". The only time it is so pronounced is at the beginning of words [so says any teachers I have studied under]). >
Glen, once again, just stop. you don't know enough german to matter. Word-final ch has two different sounds, depending on the previous vowel. The precise sound of the "soft" ch varies by location within the german-speaking world.

This is another of those things any actual german teacher would tell you, illustrating that you have had no actual german teacher, and are lying. What you are trying to put across is the sort of inaccurate half-truths they put in travel guides. I'm sure Mr Cowling already knows more than you. Just stop.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 5, 2009):
< Mr Braatz, who I believe is a native german, >
I believe he is a native of the USA midwest, based on his BCW profile. Could be looked up, last time I checked (not today). His facility with the German language (not to say attitude) is evident, and valuable, throughout the BCW archives, and ongoing.

< Your opinion is irrelevant. >
No opinions are irrelevant (unless so deemed by the moderator). Some of them may be demonstrably incorrect, and many more are disputable. BCW is a discussion group, not peer reviewed scholarly research, to enable that free flow of opinion.

Joel Figen wrote (June 5, 2009):
[To Ed Myskowski]
<>
German grammar is largely cut and dried, without room for dispute. We have someone trying to substitute his traveler's guide level knowledge for the knowledge of those who have studied the language deeply, at least one of whom is a native. I find that irrelevant, obfuscative, and completely not fun, as I find your last few messages. I realize that german grammar isn't your thing. Fine. I don't judge you for that. You must know something else to compensate, and even if you don't, at least you can sit back and let the messages fly by, for the most part. that's called "being a mensh" in yinglish. to the extent that you can't, that's called internet addiction in my dialect of reality. I do judge you for putting in your two cents' worth and nitpicking everything. you may notice, if you're awake and not just sleep-writing, that I rarely comment on anything unless I have some significant knowledge to add, or some fairly elevated opinion, derived from my years of working with this music. I try to make it clear whether I'm sharing opinion or fact. When it's opinion, I don't ask anyone to agree. When it's fact, I do expect people to accept it after verifying on their own, and occasionally to show a little gratitude. I resent your attitude of nitpicking my language and correcting me for stuff that's not central to my message, especially when the message itself is over your head.
<>

Georg F.E. Fischer wrote (June 6, 2009):
BWV 131 - Luther translated: "Aus der tieffen"; and "ch"

Dear Joel, David, Douglas, and others,

please calm down - this topic is not that important, and it's not worth an edit war on German language capabilities. I admire your efforts to understand Bach's original language, and he too would be very pleased to learn about your discussions, but there are limits were single words cannot be further
(over-)interpreted.

Georg F.E. Fischer wrote:
<<< (1) Luther translated Psalm 130 "Aus der tieffen / Ruffe ich HERR zu dir" (according to a facsimile of his 1534 bible). >>>
Joel Figen wrote:
<< 1. Do you know why Luther doubled the f's? Was that standard at the time? I don't know of such a standard, and I also don't think that it lengthened the vowel ("ie" is long in any case); that may be since also the "Ruffe" has two "f" and is long - whereas today a doubled consonant would shorten the preceeding vowel. I think that he used the "ff"s because writing rules were not settled at all at that time. is this part of the same sound shift that lengthened the u in "gut"?
(In MHG it was spelled guot and pronounced gutt - it's still pronounced short in Yiddish, at least in some forms of Yiddish) "gut" is always long, and a short "gutt" would indicate a non-german speaker today.
2. Some English bibles set LORD in upper case, but only where it stands for the Hebrew tetragrammaton ...
Did
Luther do the same thing, or did he write HERR because "Herr" would look just like any ordinary noun? >>
Yes, he did the same thing.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote:
< 3. I don't think the Lord's Prayer is a good example of the "abstract" -n still being in use, because it's an old text that hasn't been updated (thankfully.) It has been updated 1970 to an oecumenical form, which is used by all major German confessions, and it still uses "wie im Himmel so auf Erden", where "Erden" is clearly singular since there is only one earth, and since Himmel is also singular. >
David, "Aus der tieffen" is clearly singular, since otherwise it would be "Aus den tieffen", or - as the modern translation put it - "aus Tiefen".

Douglas Cowling wrote:
< recently cited, he stated that this form had gone out of use by the time of Goethe. But I think Goethe wrote "Roeslein auf der Heiden" - so there goes that argument.) I admit that this is a much better example than "Erden". I googled for "Auf der Wiesen" and immediately found references to the Munich Oktoberfest, which clearly denotes a singular "Wiesen" (meadow). No Bavarian would ever speak of "Auf der Wiese". >
Douglas, you are right to insist that "ch" is almost never a "k", only in southern dialect, at the beginning, for example the "Chiemsee" (a big lake in Bavaria) is spoken "Kiemsee". Northern Germans clearly differentiate between a soft "ich" and a hard "Nacht" (night), or soft initial "Chemie" (chemics). They are not able to speak a leading hard "ch" like in the russian word "charascho" (good), which is not any problem to people near the swiss border who speak the "ch" always hard in their dialects.

It is also rather bad to speak "sch" (your "sh") instead of a soft "ch"; this is a habit often of non-german speakers from south-east european countries.

Regards from the Black Forest

Douglas Cowling wrote (June 6, 2009):
Georg F.E. Fischer wrote:
< Douglas, you are right to insist that "ch" is almost never a "k", only in southern dialect, at the beginning, for example the "Chiemsee" (a big lake in Bavaria) is spoken "Kiemsee". Northern Germans clearly differentiate between a soft "ich" and a hard "Nacht" (night), or soft initial "Chemie" (chemics). They are not able to speak a leading hard "ch" like in the russian word "charascho" (good), which is not any problem to people near the swiss border who speak the "ch" always hin their dialects. >
I should restate my original question. I realize that there is a standard German system of pronunciation and diction which is used for singing classical repertoire. The same is true for the most part with English: there is a so-called "Mid-Atlantic" accent which North Americans (Canadians and Americans please) use which eliminates dilalectical variants and allows singers to perform anywhere in the English-speaking world. We see this particularly in Shakespearean productions.

In English, there is an important factor to consider. There was a change in pronunciation which was not completed until the 18th century. Thus, a modern performer's accent and diction is not "authentic" for English from the middle ages to the time of Handel (Handel's much criticized gaucheries are more a reflection of contemporary speech than his supposed imperfect grasp of he language).

Turning to German, my question is two-fold: 1) Was the evolution of the pronunciation of "modern" German complete by the time of Bach and was it normative in institutions such as the Lutheran Church?, 2) If "modern" German was not generalized, did Bach assume that his singers would sing with a Saxon accent or a ore arachaic "Church German" which may have been preserved in the liturgy from Luther's time?

I'm not asking what is "better" or "right". I'm asking what evidence linguists would bring to the question of the recreation of the historic pronunciation of Bach's works. It's a practical HIP question.

Ed Myskowski wrote (June 9, 2009):
Georg F.E. Fischer wrote (from the Black forest):
< I think that he used the "ff"s because writing rules were not settled at all at that time. >
I believe this is the first mention of this key point, on this particular thread at least.

It would be interesting to confirm how standardized (or not) Bachs personal orthography was.

I would point out that I have no special expertise on this topic, but someone else has already taken care of that detail for me.

 

BWV 131 and the horrific fire in California

David D. Jones wrote (September 10, 2010):
I was thinking about the fire in Mulhausen and how that fire and the one in Cali seemed to be similar; sudden, devastating and without traceable cause. I will be playing BWV 131 in rememberance of the one person known to have lost his/her life today and in solemn reflection of this time of devastation and grief.

 

Article: "Bach cantatas and motets:Aus der Tieffen and beyond"

Douglas Cowling wrote (March 30, 2012):
An interesting "Early Music" article on BWV 131 by list member, Bradley Lehmann, is available as a download online: Bradley Lehman: Bach cantatas and motets: Aus der Tieffen and beyond (Oxford Journals) [PDF]

Some trenchant comments about the NBA's modernization of Bach's texts and editorial transpositions:

"It sounds as if he also uses a different edition. Ponseeleıs bass soloist sings OSo du willtı instead of OSo du willstı in his aria, and everyone sings OAus der Tiefeı (instead of OTieffenı) in the first movement. The booklet librettos, the Bach-Gesellschaft and some other scores, have Owillstı and OTiefeı, reflecting that editionıs 19th-century modernization of Bachıs dialect. Many other recorded performances, following the Neue Bach-Ausgabe and other recent editions, restore earlier quirks in the words, but they also transpose the whole piece to A minor and alter its basic character. This is an area where the NBA did not necessarily do Othe right thingı in its general editorial policies< do the 20th-century assumptions of modern instruments, equally tempered keyboards and simplified clefs still hold, given the skill levels and information available to todayıs period-performance specialists? The NBAıs transpositions of parts or entire scores overrule Bachıs choices of keys and the corresponding Affekt, which could be just as important as the words."

Kim Patrick Clow wrote (March 30, 2012):
[To Douglas Cowling] How would Brad Lehman present an edition of a cantata where the oboe is written in F and the rest of the group in E flat, not only in terms of the score but how the performing material should work? Or does he think these pieces should be left to the period instrument specialists who will know how to deal with the situation(s)?

 

Continue on Part 6

Cantata BWV 131: Details & Complete Recordings | Recordings of Individual Movementss | Discussions: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

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Last update: ŭOctober 11, 2013 ŭ22:38:52