The motets of Johann Christoph Bach (1642-1703) represent a small, but richly expressive body of work that has fallen out of regular performance in the modern day. In the generation just following his life, however, Bach was lavished with praise for his colorful text setting in historical family documents compiled by his younger cousin Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and his son Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788). Composers of Lutheran sacred vocal music studied rhetoric as part of the Lateinschulen curriculum, and developed a method of applying the rhetorical process of spoken oratory to the process of musical composition. This included the equation of specific musical gestures to ornamental figures of speech, known as musical-rhetorical devices, which composers utilized to bring text to emotionally stirring, persuasive delivery.
The motets of Bach were composed in the midst of a large-scale reconceptualization of harmony spurred by the codification of the harmonic triad as the basic unit of harmony, rather than the melodically based modal system of the Renaissance. This is the transitional period between modality and modern tonality. Bach actively composed near the end of this century-long transition, and his harmonic language contains elements of both harmonic systems. I provide an exploration of the expressive techniques of Johann Christoph Bach as seen in a sample selection of three motets that were composed amidst the transitional harmonic atmosphere of seventeenth-century Germany, and focus on Bach’s varied application of musical-rhetorical devices to render each clause of text persuasive and memorable.
|Advisor:||Chamberlain, Bruce, Brobeck, John T.|
|School:||The University of Arizona|
|School Location:||United States -- Arizona|
|Source:||DAI-A 82/7(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Music history, Music theory, Musical composition, Rhetoric|
|Keywords:||Bach, Baroque, Motet, Rhetorical devices|
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