Chapter

Compositional Models and Musical Style

Russell Stinson

in J. S. Bach's Great Eighteen Organ Chorales

Published in print February 2001 | ISBN: 9780195116663
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199848959 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195116663.003.0001
Compositional Models and Musical Style

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This chapter takes into account the compositional models, their use by Bach in general, and their appropriation within Bach's Great Eighteen organ chorales. In dating the early versions, one must rely heavily on issues of musical style. The chorale motet emerged at the turn of the seventeenth century and quickly became a favorite form of the central-German organ schools. The chorale partita is simply a set of variations on a chorale melody. On the other hand, the idea behind the ornamental chorale is to present the complete hymn melody in one voice, usually the soprano, amid profuse embellishment. In a cantus firmus chorale, the entire hymn tune appears in long notes, like a cantus firmus in a Renaissance mass. The chorale trio is a three-voice setting in which the upper two parts are played on separate manuals and the bottom voice on the pedals. The data indicates that Bach followed no fewer than a dozen models in composing the Great Eighteen.

Keywords: compositional model; musical style; Great Eighteen; Bach; chorale motet; chorale partita; ornamental chorale; cantus firmus chorale; chorale trio

Chapter.  8578 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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