Aspiring Toward Heaven: Tonal, Motivic, and Narrative Structure in Two of J. S. Bach's Motets
Relatively little attention has been paid to J. S. Bach's motets in the scholarly analytical literature. Those who have surveyed the motets adhere mainly to surface-level stylistic conventions and not to structural characteristics; Bach's motets have not yet been fully explored with respect to structural and motivic analysis. The primary aim of this project is to provide a richer understanding of Bach's motets through case studies of "Der Geist hilft" BWV 226 and "Jesu, meine Freude" BWV 227. In my analyses, I seek to rectify the dearth of Schenkerian treatment of the motets by providing a detailed structural and motivic examination of specific movements, and also by demonstrating how these aspects contribute to a larger narrative structure guiding the work. A secondary goal is to add to the body of knowledge concerning Baroque textual expression by enlarging the repertoire used for conceptual integration networks, by expanding the literature pertaining to motivic parallelisms in Bach's music, and by demonstrating links between foreground rhetorical devices and an overarching narrative structure. In Chapter One, I provide background on Bach's motets and situate my work within the scholarly literature concerning Baroque textual expression, Baroque Lutheran theology, structural analysis and motivic parallelisms in Baroque music, and the analysis of modal chorales. A Schenkerian approach to motivic parallelisms, following Burkhart, Stein, Stern, and others, drives my exploration of how primary motives from the chorale are composed-out in other movements of each motet. Additionally, Lawrence Zbikowski's extension of the conceptual integration network to the musical domain offers a visually appealing, succinct way to summarize the relations between text and music and to discuss large-scale events more concretely in Bach's complex, multi-movement vocal works. Using CINs enables me to illustrate how Bach's compositional choices, from his selection of significant key areas and his treatment of primary motives to his use of rhetorical figures and phrase expansions, communicate the affect of the text and enhance the Lutheran theological narrative set out by the progression of the text. Chapters Two through Four offer detailed investigations into the motets. Chapter Two explores the concepts of mediation and the increasing of energy in "Der Geist hilft" by focusing on the special emphasis on the mediant as the third-divider between tonic and dominant, ascending or "opening" gestures, and the immediate reversal of the main motives through motivic inversion. These musical aspects help to portray the Holy Spirit as the intermediary between God and the believer. Chapters Three and Four delve more deeply into "Jesu, meine Freude," which describes the Christian's journey toward spiritual transcendence: a necessarily unachievable earthly union with Jesus. Throughout the work, the Kopfton scale-degree 5 establishes an important melodic boundary—a barrier that the melodic motives strive to cross in their aspiration toward their heavenly goal. In the final chapter, I suggest avenues for further research and address several analytical questions raised in these analyses.
conceptual integration network, Lutheran theology, motivic parallelisms, rhetorical figures, Schenkerian analysis, text/music relations
October 19, 2012.
A Dissertation submitted to the College of Music in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Joseph Kraus, Professor Directing Dissertation; Charles E. Brewer, University Representative; Michael Buchler, Committee Member; Matthew Shaftel, Committee Member.
Florida State University
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