Articles & Research

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"So how many Bach chorales are there?" — an answer to this surprisingly complicated question. (topic(s): general)


"Bach’s Approach to Parallel Fifths & Early Editorial Practices" ’ an investigation into the kinds of consecutive fifths and octaves Bach occasionally wrote in his chorales, the kinds of consecutives he never wrote, and the ways in which he prevented forbidden consecutives, followed by an examination of the editorial liberties taken in regard to these consecutives by early editors of Bach chorale publications. (topic(s): music theory, analysis)

"An Argument for Source [Y]" — examining the evidence for the hypothetic [Y] source, a collection of Bach chorales that the great composer himself may have owned (see NBA III/2.2 KB, pp. 84–85).

"Speculations on the Liturgical Occasions of BWV 253–438 Dietel Chorales" — Assuming that the Dietel chorales that do not come from extant larger works originally did belong to larger works that are now lost (e.g. cantatas), speculations can be made regarding the original liturgical occasion of such chorales based on the association of liturgical occasions with particular hymn tunes, on patterns within the Dietel collection itself, and on documentary evidence that certain lost works did indeed exist. This article summarizes those findings.

"Explaining the Transpositions of Chorales in the Breitkopf" — an essay on the sixteen Breitkopf–Riemenschneider chorales that appear in keys different from the chorale’s appearance in the larger works (e.g. cantatas) to which they belong.

"The Authenticity of the Bach Chorales" — speculations on the BWV253–438 chorales in light of recent scholarship.


"A History of the Breitkopf Collection of J. S. Bach’s Four–Part Chorales" — a thorough account by Thomas Braatz and posted at www.bach–

Additional Research


Consecutive Fifths and Octaves in the Chorales — a complete listing.

Chorales With Less Common Meters — an index of chorales that are not in "c" time.

Chorales in Bar Form (aab) – that is, with a repeated Aufgesang followed by an Abgesang, the most common type of Lutheran chorale structure.

Chorales with Written–out Aufgesangen

Comparative Scores

Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein — Three chorale settings arranged by date.
BWV: 2.6, 77.6, 153.1

Christ lag in Todesbanden — Five chorale settings of Martin Luther’s tune arranged by BWV. All settings are aligned and placed in the same key for easy comparison.
BWV: 4.8, 158.4, 277, 278, 279

Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele — Seven chorale settings of Louis Bourgeois’s tune arranged by date.
BWV: 19.7, 25.6, 30.6, 32.6, 39.7, 70.7, 194.6

Jesu, nun sei gepreiset — Four chorale settings along with the tune’s appearance in the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch. All settings are placed in the same key for easy comparison.
BWV: 41.6, 171.6, 190.7, 362

O Gott, du frommer Gott (Melody #3) — Eight chorale settings of Ahasverus Fritsch’s tune arranged by date. All settings are placed in the same key for easier comparison.
BWV: 45.7, 64.4, 94.8, 128.5, 129.5, 197a.7, 398; Dietel 113

Was mein Gott will, das gscheh allzeit — Seven chorale settings arranged by date, along with the tune’s appearance in the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch. All settings are placed in the same key for easy comparison.
BWV: 65.7, 72.6, 92.9, 103.6, 111.6, 144.6, 244.25

Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten — Seven chorale settings of Georg Neumark’s tune placed in the same key for easy comparison and arranged by date. A second version presents the settings in their original keys.
BWV: 84.5, 88.7, 93.7, 166.6, 179.6, 197.10, 434

Wo soll ich fliehen hin — Five chorale settings arranged by date, along with the tune’s appearance in the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch. All settings are aligned and placed in the same key for easy comparison.
BWV: 5.7, 89.6, 136.6, 148.6, 188.6

Chorale Scholarship Bibliography

Burns, Lori. "Modal Identity and Irregular Endings in Two Chorale Harmonizations by J.S. Bach," Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Spring 1994), pp.43–77.

Burns, Lori. Bach’s Modal Chorales. Pendragon Press, 1995.

Dirst, Matthew. "Inventing the Bach Chorale," in: Engaging Bach: The Keyboard Legacy from Marpurg to Mendelssohn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Hill, David. "The Time of the Sign: ’O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden’ in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion," The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 514–543.

Kielian–Gilbert, Marianne. "Inventing a Melody with Harmony: Tonal Potential and Bach’s ’Das alte Jahr vergangen ist’." Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 50, No.1 (Spring 2006), pp. 77-101.

Leaver, Robin. "Suggestions for Future Research into Bach and the Chorale," Bach, Vol. 42, No.2 (2011), pp. 40–63.

Marshall, Robert L. The Compositional Process of J.S. Bach: A Study of the Autograph Scores of the Vocal Works. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.

Marshall, Robert L. The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sources, the Style, the Significance. New York: Schirmer Books, 1989.

Marshall, Robert L. "How J.S. Bach Composed Four–Part Chorales," The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 56, No. 2 (April 1970), pp.198–220.

Meredith, Sarah. "’Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern’ in the Chorale Cantatas of J.S. Bach," The Choral Journal, Vol. 38, No. 5 (December 1997), pp.9–14.

Platen, Emil. "Zur Echtheit einiger Choralsätze Bachs," Bach–Jahrbuch, Vol. 61 (1975), pp.50–61.

Rose, Stephen. "Daniel Vetter and the Domestic Keyboard Chorale in Bach’s Leipzig," Early Music, Vol. 33, No. 1 (February 2005), pp. 39–53.

Schulze, Hans–Joachim. "’150 Stück von den Backfischen Erben’: zur Überlieferung der vierstimmigen Choräle Johann Sebastian Bachs," Bach–Jahrbuch, Vol. 69 (1983), pp. 81–100.

Schulze, Hans–Joachim. "’Vierstimmige Choräle, aus den Kirchen Stäken des Herrn J.S. Bachs zusammen getragen’: Eine Handschrift Carl Friedrich Faschs in der Bibliothek der Sing–Akademie zu Berlin," Jahrbuchs des Staatlichen Instituts fur Musikforschung Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Vol. 2003 (2003), pp. 9–31.

Stanley, Glenn. "Bach’s ’Erbe’: The Chorale in the German Oratorio of the Early Nineteenth Century," 19th Century Music, Vol. 11, No.2 (Autumn, 1987), pp. 121–149.

Temperley, David. "Key Structure in ’Das alte Jahr vergangen ist̵," Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 50, No.1, Fiftieth Anniversary Issue (Spring, 2006), pp.103–110.

Wachowski, Gerd. "Die vierstimmigen Choräle Johann Sebastian Bachs. Untersuchungen zu den Druckausgaben von 1765 bis 1932 und zur Frage der Authentizität," Bach–Jahrbuch, Vol. 69 (1983), pp. 51–79.

Wolff, Christoph. "Images of Bach in the Perspective of Basic Research and Interpretive Scholarship," The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Fall 2005), pp.503–520.