Context within work
- From the Creed section of the mass
- About Christ being crucified and buried.
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Text and Text Setting
- He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate. He suffered and was buried.
- In a minor key throughout, until last few bars. G minor.
- The nature of the chromatic, descending, ground bass sets the mood of the whole chorus.
- The melodic lines, eg, the first vocal entries, reflect the overall mood. They descend conjunctly in their own parts, but also each part comes in - in a descending fashion.
- Tessitura of text at the very end is very low, as is about Christ being buried.
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Melody and Rhythm
- Vocal melody at the start uses short, descending phrases.
- Falling descending figure.
- Second melodic idea (A) uses chromatic intervals, bar 13. G to A# - in soprano - augmented 2nd, awkward rising interval. Repeated intervals in altos.
- 2nd time the alto has: 'etiampronobis': long phrases for the altos. Overlapping Ground bass, goes against typical use of it - not in typical 4 bar phrases.
- Writing is very chromatic which conveys the mood.
- Awkward shapes in soprano part, for example: bar 37.
- Irregular phrases which overlap.
- Long phrases apart from the beginning.
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Tonality and Harmony
- E minor
- Ground bass descends chromatically - results in some chromatic chords.
- Harmonises the bass line differently on sme occassions.
- Bar 2: uses a diminished 7th.
- When soprano first comes in, it's a suspension.
- In the 1st vocal entry (sopranos), there is a 7-6 suspension, gives poignancy to the harmony. Example: bar 7: alto: a 4-3 suspension.
- Bach sometimes alters the harmonisation of his bass, for ex: when he chooses to uses an E major chord rather than an E minor, the tonic chord.
- In bar 24, moves from B major (major chord V), expected to unexpected minor chord.
- False Relations: Bars 25-26, between sopranos and bass. G natural to G#.
- G major in last few bars, foreshadowing the resurrection. Changes direction of ground bass to change key: uses an augmented 6th chord on syllable 'se' - resolves out.
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- Melody and Accompaniment: in instrumental, chordal and homophonic.
- Imitation in vocal entries, sequential movement. In imitation, the intervals don't have to be exactly the same - the overall shape is what matters.
- Imitative and contrapuntal texture in 'A'. (bar 13).
- Bar 29: homophonic passage.
- Figure D: still imitative texture, tenors and basses are inverted versions of sopranos and alris. Same shapes but in contrary motion.
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Writing for instruments and relationships between
- Flutes, play tear drop figures.
- String chords.
- Strong bass repeated.
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- Structured through repetitions of ground bass, heard 13 times.(like the number of Jesus' disciples).
- Bars 1-4: ground bass instrumental introduction.
- Bar 5: vocal melody comes in.
- Bars 9-12: repeating ideas with alterations in voice.
- Bar 13: longer phrases, vocal phrases overlap with ground bass figure.
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- Ground bass
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How is this movement a product of its time?
- Audience would've recognised descending chromatic ground bass - popular for the time and for lamenting feel of the time.
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