Manchester, 14th-18th July 2004


Charlotte A. Leonard (Huntington University College, Ontario, Canada)

Playing the text: text setting and brass articulation in the music of Ahle and Hammerschmidt

Christoph Bernhard stated the following in his treatise on singing: "Cantar alla napolitana, or d'affetto, is a style meant for singers only, as they alone are confronted with a text. Even so, instrumentalists can to some extent apply its principles, insofar as they know how to produce and control joyous or melancholy sounds upon their instruments." Sylvestro Ganassi wrote even more emphatically: "Be it known that all musical instruments, in comparison to the human voice, are inferior to it. For this reason, we should endeavor to learn from it and to imitate it." Johann Rudolf Ahle and Andreas Hammerschmidt were two of the most well-known and lauded composers of Lutheran church music in the seventeenth century: both were careful setters of the German language and used brass instruments to accompany, double, and interact with voices, to the point that the instruments spoke the rhythms of the text. Martin Luther, the inspiration for Lutheran church music composers of this period, suggested that simple words should be used for singing so that even the uneducated could understand the texts. Although Hammerschmidt also wrote contrapuntal music, his aim was to edify the ignorant in the spirit of Luther and was praised for his ability to write music that village folk could understand. This paper will demonstrate how the text setting affects the performance and articulation of the brass parts in selected works by these two composers.

Last updated on 10 May 2004