Vocal Forces in Bach’s Passions

Daniel R. Melamed

in Hearing Bach's Passions

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780195169331
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199865376 | DOI:
 Vocal Forces in Bach’s Passions

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What vocal forces did Bach use for his passion performances, and does that matter today? Few issues in 18th-century music have attracted as much attention as the size and composition of Bach's vocal forces. Our performing tradition has inherited the use of large choirs (and orchestras to match), but recent research suggests that Bach did not perform his compositions this way. We have also inherited a sharp distinction between the roles of vocal soloists and choir members, but this was not an 18th-century way of thinking about singers. Today we typically hear forces that are not only larger than Bach's, but that are also organized and deployed very differently.

Keywords: 18th-century music; choir; vocal forces; performing tradition; vocal soloists; singers

Chapter.  6063 words. 

Subjects: Musicology and Music History

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