- February 9, 2018 at 7:20 pm #555499
Nan Beth WaltonParticipant
Years ago, when I was first researching this performance practice, I thought I had checked this group for knowledge of this topic, but I cannot find any posts. A colleague and myself have differing opinions about whether these dotted rhythms would have been/should be performed as triplets when they occur, both in the instruments and in the choir. What scholarship might any of you have on this topic and could you point me toward your resources, if any?February 10, 2018 at 9:12 am #555509
There was no way to notate long-short rhythms in triplets in the eighteenth century other than to use a dotted-eighth/sixteenth. The idea of using a quarter-note and an eighth with a bracket or slur and a number 3 arose later. The dotted rhythms in the Sanctus are long-short triplets.
We might wonder why Bach didn’t notate this in 12/8, which would have been unambiguous. That has to do with tempo: 12/8 would imply a sarabande, and therefore a slower tempo, than the 4/4 of the Sanctus.
My resources are the scores themselves. There are other situations–most famously the chorale in BWV 147 that we usually call “Jesu, Joy of man’s desiring”–where the dotted-eighth/sixteenth notation clearly means a long-short triplet. An especially interesting situation occurs in the next-to-last movement of BWV 4, where there are triplets, dotted-eighth/sixteenth rhythms, and duple eighths opposite one another. Here I would do the duple eighths as 2-against-3, but everything else as triplets.
Finally, we must remember that Bach expected to be present when his music was rehearsed and performed. Any confusion in the notation could be easily cleared up. You only have to try doing the dotted-eighth/sixteenth as duples against triplets a few times to realize that this is maddeningly difficult. People quickly revert to playing and singing triplets unless you keep after it with unbelievable intensity. As a practical matter, given the short rehearsal time and quick turnaround for all of this music in Bach’s time, I feel certain that these were performed as long-short triplets.
I hope that helps.February 10, 2018 at 9:13 am #555517
Michael A. GrayParticipant
On the interpretation of dotted rhythms against triplets in Bach’s “Sanctus” in the “B Minor Mass.”
I have notes by Gordon Lamb that acknowledge the lack of a hard & fast rule in Baroque practice. He suggested two research sources: Thurston Dart’s “The Interpretation of Music” published by Hutchinson University Library, London (Revised edition 1960) & Arnold Dolmetsch’s “The Interpretation of the Music of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries” published by Oxford University Press, London (1946).
Hope that helps!
Michael A. Gray
http://www.graymichael.comFebruary 10, 2018 at 1:21 pm #555542
Nan Beth WaltonParticipant
Thank yo so much!
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