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Briefly analysing Bach's Cantata No. 140

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Bach's Cantata No.140

Bach's Cantata No.140

  • sacred cantata
  • written in 1731
  • part of a series of 5 cantatas for every Sunday and special feast day on the Lutheran calander
  • written for the 27th Sunday after Trinity - rare event
  • rare event - Bach unusually used a large ensemble
  • chorale used translates as - 'Wake up, the voices are calling us'
  • doesn't use literal translation - syllables don't fit the music
  • text - treatment of Jesus' parable - Four Wise Virgins (Bridesmaids) - through inattention they don't notice bridegroom has arrived - miss wedding and wedding feast - allegorical for Jesus; Jesus=bridegroom (Bass Voice), bride=Christian soul (soprano)
  • Bach different to Handel - separates vocals and orchestral accompaniment - gives them different material - make a different interaction
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Bach's Cantata No.140 - Mvt. I Wachet auf, ruft un

Bach's Cantata No.140 - Mvt. I Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme

  • Eb major
  • each mvt. is a verse - verse 1
  • Grand Maestoso intro
  • violino piccolo tuned a 3rd higher

Analysis

  • b. 1 1st chord is Eb major - highlights key - emphasised through homophony
  • b. 1-4 antiphony between woodwind and strings
  • b. 5-8 imitation between violin piccolo and 1st oboe
  • b. 17 soprano voice enters on Eb above middle C
  • b. 17 when voices enter orchestra becomes sparser - helps emphasis voices
  • b. 17-21 canonic entries in voices
  • b. 23 soprano sings sustained notes - emphasises alto, tenor and bass - contrasting to Handel
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Bach's Cantata No.140 - Mvt. I Wachet auf, ruft un

  • b. 24 A - hints at Bb major
  • b. 25 - lands on Bb
  • b. 26-28 orchestral interlude - defines each line
  • b. 29 orchestra repeats semiquaver flourish
  • b. 30 quite a lot of stepwise movement in voices
  • b. 38-41 ascending sequences in imitation - 1st oboes and violino piccolo
  • b. 43-44 word painting 'Wach auf, Wach auf' (Wake up, Wake up) - melody goes up on the word 'up'
  • b. 46 orchestra returns to dotted rhythm
  • b. 53 orchestral interlude - same as opening - repetition
  • b. 63 semiquaver configurations in violino piccolo
  • b. 71-73 canonic entries in alto, tenor and bass voices
  • b. 77-78 soprano doesn't stop with other voices - sets them apart
  • b. 95-96 Bach repeats the words that are commands - 'wo, wo' (come, come) - makes it dramatic
  • b. 117 orchestra stops together to show start of next phrase
  • b. 117 canonic entries in voices - bass comes first
  • b. 118+ phrases are now a lot shorter - makes it more urgent - bridegroom is coming
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Bach's Cantata No.140 - Mvt. I Wachet auf, ruft un

  • b. 20+ oboe and violin now doing their own thing rather than imitating as before
  • b. 135 Alleluja section = fugal
  • b. 135 altos start fugue - uncommon - starts subtle and helps it build - more realistic
  • only coloratura passage - saved for Alleluja section
  • b. 150 sopranos come back with sustained notes
  • b. 179-180 Bach repeats the words that are commands - 'ihr, ihr' (you, you) - makes it dramatic
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Bach's Cantata No.140 Mvt. II Er kommt (Recitative

Bach's Cantata No.140 Mvt. II Er kommt

  • recitative secco
  • C minor
  • basso continuo: organ - church like

Analysis

  • b. 1 stereotypical chords in basso continuo
  • b. 1+ less dramatic accompaniment
  • b. 1+ adventurous melody - a lot of leaps - unlike Handel: tonic-dominant based
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Bach's Cantata No.140 Mvt. III Wann kommst du, mei

Bach's Cantata No.140 Mvt. III Wann kommst du, mein Heil?

  • aria obbligato - solo and orchestra
  • C minor
  • story: Soprano seeks assurance the saviour will come and 'Jesus' gives the longed for answer

Analysis

  • starts on anacrusis
  • b. 3+ demisemiquaver flourishes - portray sopranos throughout process - confusion
  • b. 22-28 violin adds decoration - unlike 'The Trumpet Shall Sound': trumpet antiphonal with voice
  • b. 24 antiphony between voices
  • b. 27 scalic violin
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Bach's Cantata No.140 Mvt. VII Gloria sei dir gesu

Bach's Cantata No.140 Mvt. VII Gloria sei dir gesungen

  • chorale

Analysis

  • simple melody throughout
  • homophonic texture throughout
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