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Recitatives in Bach’s Vocal Works

Part 8

 

 

Continue from Part 7

Short bass notes in recitatives - AGAIN...but new evidence!

Continue of discussion from: Cantata BWV 202 - Discussions

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 17, 2003):
< Neil Halliday wrote about BWV 202:
(...) Movement #2. Recitative.

I was disappointed to hear Rilling adopting the HIP convention of shortened (cello) notes in the continuo, in this, as well as the other 'secco' recitatives in BWV 202. Has his musical intuition been beaten by historical dogma?

Such practice results in an entirely unmusical recitation of text, which leaves this listener hoping that the recitative will end as quickly as possible (or heading to the remote control button).

Actually, this CD (volume 62 of the complete Haenssler set) offers a unique comparison of the two practices (continuo cello notes played as written, as opposed to widely spaced short chords offering no support to the vocalist, as in the HIP convention.)

In BWV 204 on the same disc, we have a very tasteful presentation of the secco recitatives; here the cellist allows the note to slowly die away over its full (written) length, while ensuring that the harmonic structure supporting the vocalist is maintained. Such an approach also gives an oportunity for harpsichordists to tastefully demonstrate appregiated figured bass chords - and be heard, since the only competition is a voice and a cello. There are many examples of this in Rilling's church cantata recordings.

I fail to see why 'accompanied' recitatives should differ from so-called 'secco' recitatives, in regard to this matter of continuo accompaniment. The style of presentation of the text is often (not always) the same in both cases; in other words, a recitative is a recitative.

In any case, I invite the music-loving public to compare the two approaches as shown in Rilling's
BWV 202 and BWV 204, and decide which is the more musical. (...) >
Well, I'm not going to take this particular bait again. [But see below, for presentation of new evidence from Bach!]

It's been done so many times already on this list, most notably in the several months of wrangling between Thomas Braatz and myself earlier this year. We've been over and over and over it, looking at the evidence in the SMP and the cantatas and the umpteen historical treatises. Braatz, wearing the hat of "innocent" skeptic, tried to knock off the scholarly work of experts (especially Laurence Dreyfus and Arnold Schering); and he cast aspersions on the intelligence of Friedrich Niedt (whose work Bach used in his own teaching of basso continuo principles). Braatz also refused to read two of the best articles that I brought up for consideration: by Arthur Mendel and (especially) Peter Williams.

I played defense on all this, supporting the credibility of the field of musicology which Braatz was so eager to knock down, and pointing out that expert researchers and musicians do know what they're (we're) doing more than Braatz gives credit for. I also pointed out that Braatz' methods of reading scores--and therefore his musical expectations here in Bach's vocal works--are more appropriate for the early 20th century neoclassicists (notably Stravinsky and Hindemith) than for Bach; and to understand Bach, we need to read his notation as it meant in his time rather than ours (or Stravinsky's). That all went round and round for a long time, also touching issues such as fermatas and "terraced dynamics."

On the issue of recitative, specifically, I attempted at one point to sum it all up describing what I as a performer do for a practical solution, based on study of all the above, and years of practical experience (both on organ and harpsichord), and reflection: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/4382

Through it all Mr Braatz refused to budge anyway, and so did I; and the whole discussion eventually collapsed into too much ad hominem nonsense on both sides. It's all there in the list archives, and any interested reader can go look it up. There are some facts there worth knowing, if one can read through all the rancor.

So, I'm not going to wrangle about all that again. I've had enough of it, and I've already made it clear enough what I believe and do in practice.

=====

However, I will point out a piece of evidence directly from Johann Sebastian Bach that nobody has brought up yet! Nor does Dreyfus use it in his book, because he was focused only on vocal works. But, in my opinion, this one ices the cake.

Bach's solo organ concerto in C major, BWV 594, is a transcription of an orchestral concerto by Vivaldi: D major "Il grosso Mogul," from c1716. The second movement is a recitative for violin, a very elaborate one. In Vivaldi's version the bass part is [conventionally] notated in long notes, tied across the barlines, no rests...the same way that most of the 'secco' recitatives in Bach cantatas look on the page. But, in Bach's transcription for organ here, all those accompanying notes are notated as short! The pedal plays the bass note and the left hand plays a chord (a simple continuo realization), and then they have rests until the next change of harmony which is often two or even three bars later. The melody spins on its own, with no harmonic "support" at all; merely the brief harmonic pillars spaced wherever they are, and rests everywhere else. Then, at bar 20, there is a long dominant pedal point that is tied until bar 23, at which point it resolves to the tonic and that's the end of the piece. And at that same bar 20 where the pedal starts to hold the long note, Bach introduces in the left hand a new melodic bit that intertwines with the main melody, instead of playing continuo chords. So, to sum up, Bach spends the first 19.5 bars with a 'secco' sound and then changes to an 'accompagnato' texture for the big finish. (There's our friend Bach again, adding "improvements" to whatever he can get his hands on....)

What happens in practice, with musicians playing from these two different types of notation? I pulled out some recordings to find out. I have two CDs with Vivaldi's version, and (at least) two of organists playing Bach's version. In Vivaldi's I have the performances led by Jaap Schröder (1978) and Giuliano Carmignola (1996). On the long bass notes seen in the notation, their keyboardists do various bits of tasteful noodling to establish the harmony and then get off all the notes, while the cellist
continues to hold the bass note very quietly for all or most of the notated value, which often goes for several bars of music. That sounds good to me, tasteful and sensitive, especially as the violin soloists are wonderfully free and expressive. (It also seems to me that the cellist is sometimes apologetic-sounding...merely holding the note all that time because the score says so, when it really could go some other ways just as well.) What do the organists do playing Bach's transcription? They of course do it as written, getting off all the accompanimental notes and leaving the melodic passagework entirely "unsupported" (as Neil would say). And it sounds lovely that way, too, Bach's way where he has made the notation as short notes explicit, asking for a 'secco' sound.

[It's then merely a small step to take this piece, plus Bach's clarifications in the SMP parts, plus Dreyfus' examples from cantatas (where again the parts for players sometimes disagree with the score), and extrapolate the idea: maybe Bach really did want short notes and rests in practice, in many more situations than he troubled to notate in the main score....]

Perhaps, as an organist, Helmuth Rilling knows this piece as evidence of Bach's preferences in recitative? Who knows what guides Rilling's choices; I don't, and they often seem haphazard to me (as in, choosing whatever bit of evidence one happens to fancy for any given situation). But thorgan concerto 594 could be used just as strongly as the St Matthew Passion parts, in support of the point that Bach generally meant shortish notes (i.e. a 'secco' sound) in recitative even when he conventionally wrote them in longer values.

Anyway, about this concerto 594, there's a terrific article by Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini, "Bach's Organ Transcription of Vivaldi's 'Grosso Mogul' Concerto". It's printed in English translation in the book J. S. Bach as Organist: His Instruments, Music, and Performance Practices edited by Stauffer and May. Tagliavini not only points out this recitative issue, but also registration (the right-hand solo should probably be played at 4-foot pitch, therefore sounding in the same octave as a violin, even though organists usually give it at 8-foot because there's no marking), and conjecture that Bach worked from a Schwerin copy of Vivaldi's concerto instead of the more readily available published score. This article's footnotes are just as long as the article itself. This type of article is a good example of solid musicology, bringing up important practical points that are not obvious merely looking at a single score.

And that's what musicality and scholarly work are, isn't it?...bringing together the clues from wherever they may be found, and coming up with a practical theory that has sufficient evidence and musical merit. And when the example is as clear as this one, straight from Bach himself showing the way he wanted this music to sound, it baffles me that there's still so much resistance to accompanimental silence.

Some listeners might still prefer a "wall-to-wall carpet" of sound under the vocalist (perhaps influenced by Phil Spector's rock productions?! Who knows...); people are free to prefer whatever they want to. But if there's still a claim that Bach "must have" wanted long notes in practice just because he usually wrote them down that way, I think it's awfully tenuous. Pun intended. The evidence for short notes has convinced some of the smartest musicologists and musicians of the 20th and 21st centuries,
and the sound is also convincing (in practice) for many listeners. If it hasn't convinced some other smart people who come to this with different assumptions, well, fine; everybody's entitled to an opinion.

But (to bring in a biblical reference), "as for me and my house," I play it as I believe Bach's way was, which I described in that posting on April 3rd.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/4382
The continuo in 'plain' or 'secco' recitative is there mainly for punctuation, not to be carpet, and not to hide the embarrassed nakedness of a singer, or any listener's assumption that the singer is naked (if I may put it bluntly). The singer of a recitative tells a story in speech-song, the declaimed word is paramount, and the accompanists do well to keep the treacle out of it. As I've pointed out before, newscasters don't try to do their job over sustained background music; they just give the report.

Charles Francis wrote (September 19, 2003):
< Bradley Lehman However, I will point out a piece of evidence directly from Johann Sebastian Bach that nobody has brought up yet! Nor does Dreyfus use it in his book, because he was focused only on vocal works. But, in my opinion, this one ices the cake.

Bach's solo organ concerto in C major, BWV 594, is a transcription of an orchestral concerto by Vivaldi: D major "Il grosso Mogul," from c1716. The second movement is a recitative for violin, a very elaborate one. In Vivaldi's version the bass part is [conventionally] notated in long notes, tied across the barlines, no rests...the same way that most of the 'secco' recitatives in Bach cantatas look on the page. But, in Bach's transcription for organ here, all those accompanying notes are notated as short! The pedal plays the bass note and the left hand plays a chord (a simple continuo realization), and then they have rests until the next change of harmony which is often two or even three bars later. The melody spins on its own, with no harmonic "support" at all; merely the brief harmonic pillars spaced wherever they are, and rests everywhere else. Then, at bar 20, there is a long dominant pedal point that is tied until bar 23, at which point it resolves to the tonic and that's the end > of the piece. And at that same bar 20 where the pedal starts to hold the long note, Bach introduces in the left hand a new melodic bit that intertwines with the main melody, instead of playing continuo chords. So, to sum up, Bach spends the first 19.5 bars with a 'secco' sound and then changes to an 'accompagnato' texture for the big finish. (There's our friend Bach again, adding "improvements" to whatever he can get his hands on....) >
You seem to imply that the 'Harnoncourt Doctrine' having claimed Bach's vocal music should now be extended to violin music. Eventually, all notes tied across bar lines will loose their meaning, being interpreted in the new manner as short notes followed by long rests. I suspect you also believe Bach notated chords to be imagined by the keyboard performer rather than played?

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 19, 2003):
[To Charles Francis] If you'd glance at the score of BWV 594 for as long as two seconds, you'd see Tagliavini's point.

Thomas Gebhardt wrote (September 19, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Brad (imho) is absolutely right ... So if you would like to understand... here is the score: http://www.mh-koeln.de/musik/BWV594-2.pdf

Neil Halliday wrote (September 19, 2003):
Bradley Lehman writes: "..it baffles me that there's still so much resistance to accompanimental silence".
Nothing baffling about it Brad. Many music lovers, looking at this music from the viewpoint of music in our own time, rather than taking the scholarly approach of attempting to view the music, and its function, from the standpoint of listeners in the 18th century, find accompanimental silence in the recitatives to be boring. Do you really demand that everyone listening to this music should become a music scholar beforehand?

(I once took two friends, whose music tastes extended from 'rock and roll' back to about orchestral Mozart, to a (modern instrument) performance of the SMP; their verdict was that there was some great music in it, but way too much recitative; in other words, the secco recitatives - this is what they were refering to - were not music, and simply spoilt the impact of the whole work.)

OTOH, that BWV 594 example, to which Thomas Gebhardt kindly provided a link (of the score), is highly interesting music, of a type occuring in places in the fantasia of the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue, BWV 903, for example. We are not talking endless boring quavers (mainly) in this instrumental 'recitative', but wonderful variation in melodic shape, and rythmic variety, modulation etc, of the treble clef part, as shown. It is possible that Bach well knew that the dramatic impact of this music on the organ, with a potentially brilliant register available, would be increased by allowing the 'recitative' part (mostly treble clef) to be unaccompanied, thereby providing vivid contrast with the intervening strong, punctuating chords, bolstered by pedal notes.

Brad continues, concerning performances of the original Vivaldi orchestral version:
"...while the cellist continues to hold the bass note very quietly for all or most of the notated value, which often goes for several bars of music. That sounds good to me, tasteful and sensitive..."
I could not agree more. This is exactly what the cellist does in Rilling's BWV 204 secco recitatives. Brad seems to be making my point for me here. It would seem that these musicians also decided that the orchestral version, just as with vocal secco recitative, is far too light, too bare, too "naked", to just rely on occasional short chords to provide sufficient musical interest.

Strangely enough, I found I was able to enjoy large slabs of the recording of McCreesh's SMP, including the secco recitatives, bethe reverberation time of the space in which the recording took place was at least 7 seconds(!) - and the short chords on cello and harpsichord/organ usually "sounded" until the next chord, giving an apparently rich harmonic background to the voice!

So, how about it Brad? Let's have lots of that "tasteful and sensitive" continuo cello playing, quietly or otherwise, holding the full notated value of the note, in the secco recitives.

Charles Francis wrote (September 19, 2003):
[To Thomas Gebhardt] What an instructive score this is! At the start, the melody spins on its own, with no harmonic "support" at all; merely brief harmonic pillars spaced wherever they are, and rests everywhere else. Then, at bar 20, there is a long dominant pedal point that is tied until bar 23, at which point it resolves to the tonic. What is truly significant here is Bach's ability to differentiate between "short" notes, indicated by quarter-notes, and a "long" note indicated by tied whole-notes. This particular score is not unique, however - far from it! Frequently, long notes can be found in the bass line of Bach's recitatives. Sometimes mere half-notes, on occasion whole-notes and, not infrequently, ties to indicate one note should sound over several measures.

So there we have it; BWV 594 shows us the richness of Bach's notational practice; allowing him, on occasion, to express brief harmonic pillars using quarter-notes and rests, but also enabling him to notate the long notes so typical of his recitatives.

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 19, 2003):
[To Charles Francis] Interesting indeed, Charles.

Coming to it with your axiom that Bach always wrote down exactly (and completely) what he meant, you have managed to use a circular argument to "prove" that here he wrote down exactly what he meant. In 594 Bach used two different styles of recitative accompaniment next to one another in the same movement, clearly differentiating the effects he wanted; and therefore he clearly differentiated the effects he wanted. Here, and by your extrapolation, everywhere else. That is, your axiom fails to defeat itself. Nicely done.

Axioms are good at that sort of thing, remaining just as true or false as they ever were, no matter how any later arguments turn back upon themselves. That's why they're axioms.

Your axiom asserts that Bach would never take any shortcuts, or ever leave anything undecided (flexibility for different performance occasions), or ever leave anything to the intelligence of the performer. Your axiom says no, ba-da-bing. Since you won't set aside that axiom, even for the sake of argument, we have nothing to talk about there.

Aside from that, you haven't addressed the main point. If Bach reduced Vivaldi's whole-note notation to crotchets and rests, doesn't it argue that Bach (at least on this occasion) felt such a sound is appropriate? He respected Vivaldi's music enough to do this transcription at all, along with quite a few other concerti transcriptions from Vivaldi et al. Doesn't 594 make it obvious that Bach interpreted somebody else's whole notes as short, without compunction that he was ruining the piece?

And doesn't that suggest that his own works (especially his most hastily-written works?) may be open to that same type of interpretation, where "whole notes" and ties don't automatically mean we must hold something for exactly some number of beats? Perhaps Bach the musician was less of a literalist than you are?...

Oh, wait, that would force you to reconsider your axiom. You'd have to embrace the notion that sometimes Bach was more clear than at other times. How untidy. So, never mind.

My axiom, of course, is that no system of notation is ever complete; and (therefore) every musical case must be taken as it comes up: with an intelligent flexibility. Bach, in a 50-year career, didn't always mean exactly the same thing each time he wrote down any particular type of note. To play his music faithfully, and accurately, we have to try to figure out what he meant on each occasion.

Meanwhile, I guess you'll have to dismiss BWV 594 as some wild aberration in Bach's taste. How could he misinterpret Vivaldi's music so grossly? Or whatever. Yet, in playing Bach's music, we must not fall into the same trap Bach did? Or whatever.

#%&@#%#@&%@#^%@#%, I took the bait again. I keep forgetting, there's no good way to argue with people who cling to impossible axioms like grim death.

Peter Bright wrote (September 20, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] My understanding of all this is that the young Bach followed a tradition of relatively performer-oriented, flexible approach in treating the notes on the page BUT that later on he became far more prescriptive. According to John Butt in the Oxford Companion (himself quoting David Schulenberg):

"Bach's attitude towards ornamentation progressively hardened, suggesting that in the course of many years of teaching 'what were originally offered as suggestions might have gradually become prescriptions'". Then later, "Bach seems to have progressively aligned himself with the royalty of the Saxon court and, towards the end of his life, the Prussian court, suggesting that he was part of the absolutist tide. He does indeed seem to have become increasingly prescriptive, frequently adding ornaments to the instrumental and vocal parts of his cantatas, and he evidently took great care in preparing the Clavier-Ubung engravings, giving particular attention to the correction of ornaments in his personal copies.

"...Something seemingly insignificant in one environment becomes a social gaffe in another; to play a wrong ornament at court is as bad as wearing the wrong dress at court. The ornamental indeed becomes 'structural' (i.e., of paramount importance). The uniformity against which Neumann railed was not so much the historical style that its proponents supposed as a matter of class identity in performance of the late 20th century – an identity that has (from even before Neumann's death in 1995 [sic]) become more diverse and open to change."

Oh Brad you are so late 20th century! ;-) (and you should get out of the habit of treating those with different (and in my opinion often valid) perspectives as stupid). Also you treat Bach as a static, unchanging and undeveloping individual. Could it not be true that Bach DID in fact write down 'exactly (and completely) what he meant' as he moved into his Autumn years, but allowed greater ownership on the part of the performer in his younger life. Isn't this a fact of life that when we are young we tend to have a more flexible and open attitude to life, but as we age we tend to prefer routine and develop a certain way of doing things (a shame, but unfortunately true).

Charles Francis wrote (September 20, 2003):
< Bradley Lehman wrote: Interesting indeed, Charles. >
Glad you found it so.

< Coming to it with your axiom that Bach always wrote down exactly (and completely) what he meant, you have managed to use a circular argument to "prove" that here he wrote down exactly what he meant. In 594 Bach used two different styles of recitative accompaniment next to one another in the same movement, clearly differentiating the effects he wanted; and therefore he clearly differentiated the effects he wanted. Here, and by your extrapolation, everywhere else. That is, your axiom fails to defeat itself. Nicely done.

Axioms are good at that sort of thing, remaining just as true or false as they ever were, no matter how any later arguments turn back upon themselves. That's why they're axioms. >
That Bach distinguishes in his notation between short and long notes is no axiom of belief, but rather a statement of fact based on analysis of BWV 594.

< Your axiom asserts that Bach would never take any shortcuts, or ever leave anything undecided (flexibility for different performance occasions), or ever leave anything to the intelligence of the performer. >
I fail to see how notating a tie and a whole note rather than a whole rest constitutes a shortcut; after all two items must be written down rather than one. Moreover, I fail to see how notating silent harmonic figures constitutes a shortcut; the effort is r.

< Your axiom says no, ba-da-bing. >
What is ba-da-bing?

< Since you won't set aside that axiom, even for the sake of argument, we have nothing to talk about there. >
Clearly an invalid point, given you addressed me and I am responding.

< Aside from that, you haven't addressed the main point. If Bach reduced Vivaldi's whole-note notation to crotchets and rests, doesn't it argue that Bach (at least on this occasion) felt such a sound is appropriate? >
Bach found the key of d-minor appropriate for keyboard works since he used it so often. But that does not imply all minor keyboard pieces should be transposed on sight to d-minor.

< He respected Vivaldi's music enough to do this transcription at all, along with quite a few other concerti transcriptions from Vivaldi et al. >
It has been suggested that Bach's motivation was self-education, but I rather suspect the transcriptions may have been made for the benefit of others.

< Do 594 make it obvious that Bach interpreted somebody else's whole notes as short, without compunction that he was ruining the piece? >
No, since you suggested above that he used short notes on aesthetic grounds.

< And doesn't that suggest that his own works (especially his most hastily-written works?) may be open to that same type of interpretation, where "whole notes" and ties don't automatically mean we must hold something for exactly some number of beats? >
No, see above.

< Perhaps Bach the musician was less of a literalist than you are?... Oh, wait, that would force you to reconsider your axiom. You'd have to embrace the notion that sometimes Bach was more clear than at other times. How untidy. So, never mind. >
Maybe Bach was less consistent than myself. Notwithstanding, the burden of proof is yours.

< My axiom, of course, is that no system of notation is ever complete; and (therefore) every musical case must be taken as it comes up: with an intelligent flexibility. >
So performance dogmas such as the "Harnoncourt Doctrine" should presumably have no place by your reasoning.

< Bach, in a 50-year career, didn't always mean exactly the same thing each time he wrote down any particular type of note. >
The burden of proof is clear.

< To play his music faithfully, and accurately, we have to try to figure out what he meant on each occasion. >
Are you suggesting aesthetics should inform musical performance rather than history?

< Meanwhile, I guess you'll have to dismiss BWV 594 as some wild aberration in Bach's taste. >
Not if the transcription was done for the benefits others.

< How could he misinterpret Vivaldi's music so grossly? >
Bach was no respecter of the composer's intentions. He also improved Palestrina.

< Or whatever. Yet, in playing Bach's music, we must not fall into the same trap Bach did? Or whatever. >
That "whatever" might include adapting the music for his "customer", educational experimental etc.

< #%&@#%#@&%@#^%@#%, I took the bait again. >
One shouldn't confuse civilised debate and fishing.

< I keep forgetting, there's no good way to argue with people who cling to impossible axioms like grim death. >
You may be right, but I will certainly keep trying.

Bradley Lehmen wrote (September 20, 2003):
< Charles Francis wrote: That Bach distinguishes in his notation between short and long notes is no axiom of belief, but rather a statement of fact based on analysis of BWV 594. >

I agree. Now, allow me to re-punctuate what I actually said, in the hope that you will understand it this time:

<< Coming to it with [BEGINNING OF AXIOM...] your axiom that Bach always wrote down exactly (and completely) what he meant, [...END OF AXIOM] you have managed to use a circular argument to "prove" that here he wrote down exactly what he meant. >>

======

< So performance dogmas such as the "Harnoncourt Doctrine" should presumably have no place by your reasoning. >
"The Harnoncourt Doctrine" is a dogmatic invention by Mr Thomas Braatz on this list. It was his attempt to belittle a performance practice he didn't fancy. He tried to assign it to a 20th century scapegoat...to a performer whose work Braatz didn't respect anyway, for other reasons. Basically, his strategy was to cast Harnoncourt as an unmusical moron who has unduly influenced too many people. Evidently he hoped that all of Harnoncourt's musical practices would collapse as nonsense (i.e. would be shown to be conveniently "inauthentic") if the blame could be placed squarely enough, and then we could all get back to the business of enjoying the good interpretations.

Later, when that didn't really work (basically, when it was shown that Harnoncourt didn't originate this performance convention), Mr Braatz attempted to shift the blame to the early 20th century musicologist Arnold Schering, plus some potshots at Laurence Dreyfus.

When that also didn't work, he went after some of the 18th century writers who must have been morons.

After all, because Mr Braatz didn't fancy the musical results that some performers are delivering, not finding them convincing enough, somebody along the line somewhere must be shown to be a moron. That was his strategy. It sparked some wild discussions.

As I recall, you sat on the sidelines most of the time, vigorously cheering for Mr Braatz; if he could show that all the "authenticity" is a sham, your axiom (Bach always wrote down exactly what he meant, completely) would be undamaged.

======

The sequence went like this:

- When the bass notes are played short, the music sounds bad (an aesthetic judgment by Braatz, yourself, Neil Halliday, and some others).

- Historically it must not have sounded this bad, because (axiomatically) Bach had good taste.

- The notes look long in the NBA and other reliable scores; and according to the 20th century "standard" methods of reading scores (Braatz' habits, and yours, et al), they therefore must be played long.

- Because it both sounds bad and looks wrong (both of those being value judgments, but it proceeded anyway...), somewhere in the quest for historical "authenticity" somebody must have really *%#@ed up on this one. The convention of short notes must be wrong, a fiction invented by somebody, and that villain must be held responsible. Someone must be blamed for ruining the music in this manner, and for duping current musicians into wrong habits.

- Braatz' quest to identify the culprit(s), a long series of accusations: he tried to show that all the evidence in favor of the practice is irrelevant, and that various villains have committed shenanigans in the restoration of the practice. (That is, for the convention to go away, someone or something must be demolished.)

- Various defenses of both the historicity and the aesthetic value of shorter notes. (Some of us--myself included--really do feel that the music sounds just as good either way; and some feel it sounds even better with the notes short.) And, general defense of musicology as a serious field of inquiry, one strong enough to withstand amateur scrutiny (at the very least).

- Rancor all around.

- Nevertheless, Bach himself had the "bad taste" to do the same conventional thing to Vivaldi's music (organ arrangement 594 shortening the accompanimental notes) that many current performers apply to Bach's music. How rude.

=======

In the above sequence, the two most vitally wrong axioms (in my opinion, of course) are these two:

- That 20th century "standard" methods of reading music are sufficient for reading Bach's music; and

- That Bach always wrote down exactly and completely what he wanted performers to play...i.e., performers now should simply follow Bach's notated instructions with no other interpolations or conventions allowed, and the result will be historically correct readings.

Charles Francis wrote (September 22, 2003):
< Bradley Lehman wrote: I agree. Now, allow me to re-punctuate what I actually said, in the hope that you will understand it this time: >
<<< Coming to it with [BEGINNING OF AXIOM...] your axiom that Bach always wrote down exactly (and completely) what he meant, [...END OF AXIOM] you have managed to use a circular argument to "prove" that here he wrote down exactly what he meant. >>>
A straw-man argument, Brad.

Having said that, one might well read your "axiom" into the remarks of Scheibe. Here is Bach's friend Birnbaum responding to Scheibe:

"But this does not dispose of the claim that Bach's pieces are impossible to play or sing. He [Schiebe] reproaches them further with the fact that the Hon. Court Composer [Bach] writes out "every ornament, every little grace, and everything that one thinks of as belonging to the method of playing, complete in notes." Either the author notes this as something characteristic of the Hon. Court Composer alone, or else he holds it to be a failure in general. If the former, he errs mightily. T he Hon. Court Composer is neither the first nor the only man to write thus. From among a mass of composers whom I could cite in this respect, I will mention only Gringy and Du Mage, who in their Livres d'orgue have used this very method. If the latter, I can find no reason why it should deserve the name of fault. On the contrary, I consider it, for reasons that cannot be disregarded, as a necessary prudence on the part of the composer. To begin with, it is certain that what is called the "manner" of singing or playing is almost everywhere valued and considered desirable. It is also indisputable that this manner can please the ear only if it is applied in the right places but must on the contrary uncommonly offend the ear and spoil the principle melody if the performer employs it at the wrong spot. Now experience teaches further that usually its application is left to the whim of singers and instrumentalists. If all such men were sufficiently instructed in that which is truly beautiful in this manner; if they always knew how to employ it where it might serve as a true ornament and particular emphasis of the main melody; in that case it would be superfluous for the composer to write down in notes once more what they already knew. But only the fewest have sufficient knowledge, and the rest, by an inappropriate application of the manner, spoil the principle melody and indeed often introduce such passages as might be easily be attributed, by those who do not the true state of affairs, to an error of the composer. Therefore each composer, including the Hon. Court composer, is entitled to set the wanderers back on the right path by prescribing a correct method according to his intentions and thus watch over the preservation of his honour. As a result of this explanation, the opinion of the author that this procedure takes away from the Hon. Court Composer's pieces the beauty of the harmony and makes the principle melody unattractive falls on its own weight."

< "The Harnoncourt Doctrine" is a dogmatic invention by Mr Thomas Braatz on this list. >
Incorrect, Brad, see: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/1227

< It was his attempt to belittle a performance practice he didn't fancy. He tried to assign it to a 20th century scapegoat... to a performer whose work Braatz didn't respect anyway, for other reasons. Basically, his strategy was to cast Harnoncourt as an unmusical moron who has unduly influenced too many people. Evidently he hoped that all of Harnoncourt's musical practices would collapse as nonsense (i.e. would be shown to be conveniently "inauthentic") if the blame could be placed squarely enough, and then we could all get back to the business of enjoying the good interpretations.
Later, when that didn't really work (basically, when it was shown that Harnoncourt didn't originate this performance convention), Mr Braatz attempted to shift the blame to the early 20th century musicologist Arnold Schering, plus some potshots at Laurence Dreyfus.
When that also didn't work, he went after some of the 18th century writers who must have been morons.
After all, because Mr Braatz didn't fancy the musical results that some performers are delivering, not finding them convincing enough, somebody along the line somewhere must be shown to be a moron. That was his strategy. It sparked some wild discussions. >
Your continuing, unprovoked ad hominem against Mr Braatz starts to look obsessional, Brad.

< As I recall, you sat on the sidelines most of the time, vigorously cheering for Mr Braatz; if he could show that all the "authenticity" is a sham, your axiom (Bach always wrote down exactly what he meant, completely) would be undamaged. >
I am gratified that the painstaking research of Mr. Braatz accords with my own judgment.

< The sequence went like this:
- When the bass notes are played short, the music sounds bad (an aesthetic judgment by Braatz, yourself, Neil Halliday, and some others). >
When did I allegedly make such a aesthetic judgment?

< - Historically it must not have sounded this bad, because (axiomatically) Bach had good taste.
- The notes look long in the NBA and other reliable scores; and according to the 20th century "standard" methods of reading scores (Braatz' habits, and yours, et al), they therefore must be played long. >
No, the dogma is on the other side of the fence.

< - Because it both sounds bad and looks wrong (both of those being value judgments, but it proceeded anyway...), somewhere in the quest for historical "authenticity" somebody must have really *%#@ed up on this one. The convention of short notes must be wrong, a fiction invented by somebody, and that villain must be held responsible. Someone must be blamed for ruining the music in this manner, and for duping current musicians into wrong habits. >
Nothing wrong with busting an urban legend.

< - Braatz' quest to identify the culprit(s), a long series of accusations: he tried to show that all the evidence in favor of the practice is irrelevant, and that various villains have committed shenanigans in the restoration of the practice. (That is, for the convention to go away, someone or something must be demolished.) >
Your "evidence" consists of 'argument from authority' and ad hominem, Brad.

< - Various defenses of both the historicity and the aesthetic value of shorter notes. (Some of us--myself included--really do feel that the music sounds just as good either way; and some feel it sounds even better with the notes short.) And, general defense of musicology as a serious field of inquiry, one strong enough to withstand amateur scrutiny (at the very least). >
What is the basis for that claim?

< - Rancor all around.
- Nevertheless, Bach himself had the "bad taste" to do the same conventional thing to Vivaldi's music (organ arrangement 594 shortening the accompanimental notes) that many current performers apply to Bach's music. How rude.
In the above sequence, the two most vitally wrong axioms (in my opinion, of course) are these two:
- That 20th century "standard" methods of reading music are sufficient for reading Bach's music; and
- That Bach always wrote down exactly and completely what he wanted performers to play...i.e., performers now should simply follow Bach's notated instructions with no other interpolations or conventions allowed, and the result will be historically correct readings. >
See the Birnbaum text, above.

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 22, 2003):
Birnbaum

<< I wrote: (...) the two most vitally wrong axioms (in my opinion, of course) are these two:
- That 20th century "standard" methods of reading music are sufficient for reading Bach's music; and
- That Bach always wrote down exactly and completely what he wanted performers to play...i.e., performers now should simply follow Bach's notated instructions with no other interpolations or conventions allowed, and the result will be historically correct readings. >>

< Charles replied: See the Birnbaum text, above.
[ http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/6394 ]

I respond now:

I have no problem with Birnbaum's advocacy, as a nice little piece of hagiography. Wasn't it, at least in part, commissioned by Bach himself? However, the three following points (at least) would still need to be addressed:

- Did Bach himself agree 100% with Birnbaum's document, both as an assessement of his work, anas absolutely prescriptive for all performances of it?

- More specifically, when Bach played his own works, did he limit
himself to merely following the written instructions with no deviations allowed?

- Even if Scheibe was a moron, at least according to the assessment by Bach and/or Birnbaum, was everything he presented in the debate wrong?

You'd need the first two of those (at least) to be true, and perhaps also the third.

Meanwhile, all we have is written defense against the accusations of Scheibe; plus an assertion that many of the musicians around Bach were morons, needing more detail written down because they'd turn his music into incomprehensible mush otherwise. Was Bach himself one of those incompetent performers who must be told exactly what to do, so they won't ruin it? Or, just everybody else then and now except Bach?


Recitative postings by Andrew Lewis, 2002

Bradley Lehman
wrote (September 22, 2003):
< Neil Halliday wrote: After looking back through the archives on this discussion list, in particular, those from Andrew Lewis:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/2630
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/3007
(...) >
Wow! Very well said! Perhaps I should locate this Andrew Lewis and buy him a beer or something. If I'd known that these two postings existed, I might not have wasted two months of my own time re-debating the same thing (and against the same opponent) earlier this year.

Aryeh, can Andrew's postings please be added to the archive at:
http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Recitatives.htm ? I reread those pages often, during the later discussion, but I didn't go back through list archives that far into 2002; I had just assumed that everything relevant from earlier discussion here was already archived there.

If Andrew really did let it drop after August 2nd, as he said he was going to, he's a better man than I...refusing to get sucked into protracted nonsense and the "there's not enough evidence! The evidence is wrong! the evidence is irrelevant!" whining of his opponent. I shall try to emulate Andrew's example, with a breath of fresh air.

Charles Francis wrote (September 23, 2003):
[To Bradley Lehman] Try ignoring the excellent manner of his writing, the powerful rhetorical technique, the irrelevant arguments-from-authority, and see what is left. Only a list of allegedly "important" cantatas, with no indication of why or how they establish the claim that Bach shortened his notes. Only an unsupported claim that there was once a practice of shorting notes and an opinion that therefore Bach most likely shortened his notes. Opinions, be they those of experts or street cleaners, are interesting from a human perspective, but ultimately irrelevant. Only the facts are relevant and relevant facts here are notable by their absence. Perhaps his rhetoric is appealing for the man of faith, but it is of little value to the logical empiricist.

You appear to lack a scientific perspective:
http://www.av8n.com/physics/authority.htm

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 23, 2003):
[To Charles Francis] Bach's cantatas were written:

- By a man of faith...
- To be performed by people of faith...
- To edify and instruct people of faith.

Those of us with empiricist training and logically-intensive jobs just have to deal with it.

=====

p.s. Thank you so much for that link to the pages where I can learn about the valid scientific methods!!!!! Now, having read them, I suddenly feel qualified to do my job!!!! It's brightened my whole day already. What a relief; I was having such a crisis of understanding, even trying to read the flow-charts on my desk!!!!!! Too hard, with all the four-valued logic I need to anticipate and trap. "The sample gave a positive result." "The sample gave a negative result." "The sample gave an inconclusive result." "The sample will probably give either a positive or negative result, but we really don't know yet; call back later." No, five: "The sample gave a result that is impossible in our system and caused an operational error." Too hard.

WAY TOO HARD! Now, thanks to you, I see the light and repent of all my illogical ways. Everything is in cold hard black and white, and graspable by my poor little moronic mind. HALLELUJAH! Oh, *#*%&#, one of my other clients just reported a bug in their system, something going into a feedback loop; it was probably my fault in something I did last year but that worked fine until today. There's always some silly little unpredictable thing that fouls it up.

Brad Lehman
(B.A., Mathematics; not that that "proves" anything here; today's project is modification of a data-transport system for medical lab results; guess I'd better get back to the coding and testing du jour. I'm putting on Klaus Mertens' "Ich habe genug" to comfort me.)

Charles Francis wrote (September 24, 2003):
< Bradley Lehman wrote:
Bach's cantatas were written:
- By a man of faith...
- To be performed by people of faith...
- To edify and instruct people of faith.
Those of us with empiricist training and logically-intensive jobs just have to deal with it.

p.s. Thank you _so much_ for that link to the pages where I can learn about the valid scientific methods!!!!! Now, having read them, I suddenly feel qualified to do my job!!!! It's brightened my whole day already. What a relief; I was having such a crisis of understanding, even trying to read the flow-charts on my desk!!!!!! Too hard, with all the four-valued logic I need to anticipate and trap. "The sample gave a positive result." "The sample gave a negative result." "The sample gave an inconclusive result." "The sample will probably give either a positive or negative result, but we really don't know yet; call back later." No, five: "The sample gave a result that is impossible in our system and caused an operational error." Too hard.
WAY TOO HARD! Now, thanks to you, I see the light and repent of all my illogical ways. Everything is in cold hard black and white, and graspable by my poor little moronic mind. HALLELUJAH! Oh, *#*%&#, one of my other clients just reported a bug in their system, something going into a feedback loop; it was probably my fault in something I did last year but that worked fine until today. There's always some silly little unpredictable thing that fouls it up. >
By synchronicity, I've listened to "Ich habe genug" several times over the past few days. Specifically, the 1950 performance of Hans Hotter and his outstanding rendering of this movement. The remainder of BWV 82 is also interesting, particularly for the anonymous text with its Buddhist take on Christianity:

Mein Gott! wenn kömmt das schöne: Nun!
Da ich im Friede fahren werde
Und in dem Sande kühler Erde
Und dort bei dir im Schoße ruhn?
Der Abschied ist gemacht,
Welt, gute Nacht!

My God! When will the lovely now! come,
when I will journey into peace
and into the cool soil of earth,
and there, near You, rest in Your lap?
My farewells are made,
world, good night!

Ich freue mich auf meinen Tod,
Ach, hätt' er sich schon eingefunden.
Da entkomm ich aller Not,
Die mich noch auf der Welt gebunden.

I delight in my death,
ah, if it were only present already!
Then I will emerge from all the suffering
that still binds me to the world.

The complete text and a nice translation by Pamela Dellal can be found at:
http://www.emmanuelmusic.org/pages/transl/bwv82_2-3.htm


recits.htm

Bradley Lehman
wrote (September 25, 2003):
On the topic of shortened continuo notes in Bach's recitatives, I've crafted a new page at: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/recits.htm

This is my summary of practice on this topic. A manifesto, perhaps. It is not a history of the local discussion, but rather a positive integration of the material.

As with B's own compositional practice, I will probably continue to tinker with this piece indefinitely, improving the craftsmanship: wording and layout. No piece is immune to improvements by the composer, even after public issue.

Constructive criticism is welcome from people who respect the work. Destructive criticism would be its own reward.


Some feedback on "secco" recitatives.

Neil Halliday wrote (September 25, 2003):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: "However, in the Matthaeuspassion in the BGA Score, these are also noted with long notes (i.e., quarter notes instead of eighth or sixteenth notes)".
Note that in the context of this discussion, a quarter note is a short note. (Most of Bach's secco recitatives are written with minims and/or semibreves, many of them tied, on the continuo stave).

(In any case, I should not have mentioned the SMP (BWV 244), because I had already specified Bach's cantatas).

More significantly, I note that Brad was indeed able to locate a period instrument performance in which the secco recitative continuo notes are (apparently more or less) played as written (ie, long), namely Kuijken's BWV 82.

An interesting detail in the score of the first secco recitative of BWV 82, is that, in some bars, Bach has written a note (with the word Org. above it) an octave above the normal continuo note. All these notes are minims or semibreves. (Does this mean the organ, at least, should be playing long notes here? Why add this indication at all?).
This recitative also includes 'arioso' and 'andante' sections in which the continuo consists of passages of 8th and 16th notes.

Another interesting detail occurs in the secco recitative scores of BWV 18 and BWV 185.

Here, Bach has written a bassooon part on a separate stave, which is identical to the continuo part, except that this bassoon part is indeed notated in short notes, ie crotchets, separated by rests which occupy most, sometimes all, of the bar. The otherwise identical (in pitch etc) continuo part is notated in long notes. This surely implies that only the bassoon plays 'short' notes, and that the continuo plays the notes as written, otherwise Bach would have simply written "continuo e bassoon" in front of the continuo stave, if he had wanted them all to play 'short', according to a widespread, unwritten convention.

In BWV 58, we have two secco recitatives, one of which is notated in long notes, the other in 'short' notes!

(In BWV 197, we have an examle of an "accompanied" recitative , in which the first half has all the parts (except voice, ofcourse) written in 'short' notes, and the in second half, all the notes written as long notes!)

This all suggests to me that performance practice in secco recitatives was in a state of flux during the time of composition of these works (early to mid 18th century); and previous posts have mentioned actual disagreement and controversy amongst various 18th century commentators, not to mention confusing statements concerning organ method in continuo.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (September 25, 2003):
[To Neil Hallidsay] A quarter note in the context of the Rezitativ mopvements is actually a longer note. That is why people refer to them as quavers (as opposed to semiquavers [eighth notes]). If that is what you and others are referring to as "shorter" note values in the discussions, then I think it is ti,me for there to be a change in your evaluations. The quaver is longer (not shorter) than the semiquaver. If people take quavers as being short, then it might be the fault of our recordings. They often treat them as short. In that case, I would say that we all should listen to Richter recordings and recordings of Thomaskantors because they do treat them as longer values.

I also take note of your examples. As I have stated before, I have not had much (if any) experience with Bach Vocal works outside of his oratoric output. I will be quiet on this subject now. I just was under the impression that people weretalking about "short" Continuo notes because they were written short when in fact (as you clearly know) many were in fact written in longer values. That still does not excuse (for me) the non-tying thatgoes on in performances of the Johannespassion (BWV 245).

Neil Halliday wrote (September 26, 2003):
David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote: "A quarter note in the context of the Rezitativ mopvements is actually a longer note. That is why people refer to them as quavers (as opposed to semiquavers [eighth notes])."
So that we can be in complete agreement on this issue (which I believe we are), let me state the system I am using ,namely: a crotchet = quarter note; quaver = eighth note; semi-quaver = sixteenth note. (I myself erroneously equated semiquavers to 32nd notes some time ago). I believe this is mainstream practice. These are all referred to as 'short' notes in this discussion.

The 'long' notes in this discussion, namely, minims (half notes = two crochets) and semibreves (whole-notes = four crotchets) are those mainly used by Bach to notate the continuo part of his secco recitatives.

(By the way, that makes breves - what, exactly? Is this where the difference in assignment of note values arises between us?)

David continues: "I just was under the impression that people weretalking about "short" Continuo notes because they were written short."
No. Those of us involved in this discussion are referring to the (nowadays widespread) practice of playing continuo notes "short", when or even if these notes are in fact written 'long'.

This is why the secco recitatives in BWV 18 and BWV 185 are so intriguing (in which the continuo bassoon is written on a separate stave in crotchets ('short' notes), separated by rests, but the identical 'continuo' part itself is written, as is usual, in minims and semibreves ('long' notes) on another stave. Anyone care to explain this mystery, in terms of a widespread convention in which all the continuo (disregard keyboard for this discussion) instruments play notes that are markedly shorter than notated?

"That still does not excuse (for me) the non-tying thatgoes on in performances of the Johannespassion."
I agree absolutely, but unfortunately, it would appear that 18th century practice allows this "non-tying" (shortening of notated note values) to occur.

David Glenn Lebut Jr. wrote (September 27, 2003):
[To Neil Halliday] I think in general terms we are in agreement. however, from what I have read and heard (both in CD liner notes and in books and Music History and theory classes), Crotchets and Quavers are the same thing, so the gradiation that you have used would needs be modified again by one note value. Take a look at the score for the Johannespassion and read (if you have it) the liner notes of the Rilling recording of it (especially the one for the Edition Bachakademie). Here they talk of regular quavers (the quarter notes) and semiquavers (the eighth notes) in the Continuo in Movement I. In the same discussion, when they talk of the 1724 Version (which is not like the modern version in many respects as you likely are aware of), the discussion says that all Continuo instruments (which then did not include the Bassono Grosso) played semiquavers.

Alex Riedlmayer wrote (September 27, 2003):
[To David Glenn Lebut Jr.] Comparing the notes in German with the English translation, I can infer that quavers are 'Achtel' and crotchets 'Viertel', so how could they be the same thing? Semiquavers are not even mentioned. Also, the opening chorus is not a recitative, and recitatives do not typically have eighth notes in the continuo parts except in arioso passages.

Continue of this part of the discussion, see: Crotchets & Quavers


Daube on Bach playing secco recitatives

Thomas Braatz wrote (September 25, 2003):
For those still following the ‘recent advances’ in historical musicology in regard to the ‘evidence’ given to support the esottradition of playing a shortened bc accompaniment in Bach’s secco recitatives in his church cantatas, it may be of some interest that one such source cited in support of the Schering/Mendel/Dreyfus theory is found in the commentary on this subject provided by one, Johann Friedrich Daube, who was renowned for having stated in his book, “Genug! Wer ihn [J. S. Bach] nicht gehöret hat, der hat sehr vieles nicht gehöret“ [„In short, whoever has not hear him (J. S. Bach) (play,) has not heard very much at all.“] What is remarkable here is that Daube’s book on figured bass (1756), in which he comments on Bach’s ‘Generalbass-Spiel’ [Bach’s manner of playing the figured bass/bc accompaniment,] is even considered as viable evidence by experts in regard to Bach's manner of playing secco recitatives in the first place.

1) Daube was born c. 1733, a time by which Bach had composed and performed almost all of his church cantatas (there are quite a few cantatas for which we can find no proof that they were ever performed a 2nd time under Bach’s direction, while certain other cantatas were repeated and underwent changes each time they were performed.) Stylistically Daube belongs to a later period of music history, not one which relates to the time when the bulk of Bach’s cantatas were being written and performed.

2) According to the ‘Bach-Dokumente’ Nrs. 680 & 703, it is very doubtful that Daube had ever personally heard Bach play or perform any cantata, a fact which places an ironic twist upon the statement quoted above. Johann Friedrich Wilhelm Sonnenkalb (1732-1785), an alumnus of the Thomanerchor who had personally sung and performed under Bach’s direction from 1746-1750, seriously questioned in his book, “Historisch-Kritische Beyträge zur Aufnahme der Musik…” (Berlin, 1759,) Daube’s personal acquaintance with Bach’s performance style: “Wo hat denn aber der Herr Daube denselben [J.S.Bach] gehöret? Wer weiß, ob er ihn [J.S.Bach] gar gehöret hat, ob er sich gleich hier so groß mit ihm [J.S.Bach] macht. Ich zweifle fast daran….“ [„Just where did Mr. Daube ever hear J. S. Bach? Who knows if he [Daube] had ever heard him [J. S. Bach] at all, even if he brags so much about having done so. I rather doubt it….”] The editors of the ‘Bach-Dokumente’ conjecture that Daube had received all his information on this subject third-hand. Indirectly this occurred through C.P.E Bach [whose style of composing and playing differed considerably from that of his father.] From 1744 to 1765, Daube was a flautist and theorbo player in the Stuttgart Court Orchestra under the direction/leadership of Karl Eugen von Württemberg, who was a pupil/student of C.P.E. Bach.

3) Daube’s book is quoted extensively in M. Schneider’s book (Kassel, 1939) “Der Generalbass in der Instrumentalmusik des ausgehenden 18. Jahrhunderts” [“Figured Bass in the Instrumental Music at the End of the 18th Century.”] In light of the above, this seems to be a much more astute assignment of Daube’s relative position and importance in historical musicology.

Daube’s evidence relating to J. S. Bach is questionable in the least and can not serve any reasonable purpose in supporting the Schering/Mendel/Dreyfus/Williams/Ledbetter etc., etc. theory of shortened accompaniment in Bach’s secco recitatives. Such a theory becomes more and more untenable as new ‘evidence’ such as that by Daube continues to be proffered for examination.

Bradley Lehman wrote (September 25, 2003):
[To Thomas Braatz] Just so we understand you more fully, Thomas, at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BachCantatas/message/6434
which destructive salvo do you believe you're firing this time?

(A) Dr Williams and Dr Ledbetter are too ignorant to have consulted the Bach-Dokumente, Schneider, and Sonnenkalb? (By the way, they list Daube's own treatise directly in their bibliography, not crediting a secondary source that "quotes" him "extensively".)

(B) They are too stupid to have understood the B-D (et al) as well as you?

(C) They don't understand the empirical methods of their own professional field (historical musicology) as well as you do?

(D) They are part of a vast evil conspiracy of scholars and musicians to distort the Truth, as you understand it?

(E) The editors and peer reviewers of _New Grove_ were all too stupid to catch an alleged error that you were able to catch within half a day?

It's a serious question: which accusation against those experts are you making there in your posting? Please pick A, B, C, D, and/or E as appropriate.

=====

Also, as you point out: "The editors of the Bach-Dokumente CONJECTURE THAT Daube had received all his information on this subject third-hand." [Emphasis mine.]

What if Ledbetter and Williams have other evidence about Daube that, as honest scholars, has convinced them to disagree with the B-D editors' conjecture, and thereby allow Daube as evidence? That is, is it not possible they and their peer reviewers are already some steps ahead of you on this quest for knowledge?

=====

And (again for the sake of clear argument): even if it could be shown that Daube did receive all his information third-hand, does that automatically mean it's wrong? We all receive a good bit of third-hand information every day.

=====

One other possibility, (F) for the above list that I just thought of:

(F) All of us here on the BachCantatas list are too stupid to recognize sophistry, so we might as well replace Ledbetter's/Williams' (supposedly) destructive sophistry with your own, and thereby be happy?

That is, are you out to insult just the musicological experts, or all of the rest of us as well?

===============

N.B. This posting by me is not a personal attack on Thomas Braatz, but simply a forthright set of clarifying questions about his goals, so we can understand better what he's actually saying. Seriously.

==========

Also N.B. My future silence on this topic in this discussion forum is to be interpreted: if I have anything further to say, it will show up at: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~bpl/recits.htm

As I said there, in a nutshell: I'm not out to rehash or defend the expert arguments; the reader can go look them up. I'm a utilitarian and practical musician. I'm convinced that the shortened notes (i.e. space that thereby allows an expressive mix of lengths) help the music and its message come across more clearly to more people, thanan unrelenting series of long notes does. I have faith that Bach also wished his music to communicate strongly and clearly in performance. And, given that he knew this practical technique (as has been shown), and didn't forbid it, we are free to use it toward that same goal.



Continue on Part 9


Articles: The “Shortening of the Supporting Notes” in the Bc of Bach’s ‘Secco’ Recitatives [Thomas Braatz] | Playing Plain Recitative in Bach's Vocal Works [Bradley Lehman]
Discussions of Recitatives:
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 | Continuo in Bach’s Vocal Works: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

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