Bach's Mass in B minor: An Analytical Study of Parody Movements and their Function in the Large-Scale Architectural Design of the Mass Page: 1
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There is no doubt that the so-called Mass in B minor BWV 232 is one of the most
important works in the history of Western music. Much has been written about this composition
since it was rediscovered in 1786 when C. P. E. Bach performed the Credo in a charity concert.'
However, little research focuses on an in-depth analysis of the music itself.
Most studies about the Mass in B Minor deal with the history of the work, its reception
history, primary sources, performance practice issues, rhetoric, and even theological and
numerical symbolism. Of the few analytical studies undertaken, to date only a limited number
attempt to explain Bach's use of parody technique or to elucidate musical unity throughout the
entire Mass. At this point, there is no literature explaining the changes Bach made to the original
compositions in order to make them fit in the overall structure of his setting of the Mass
Ordinary. Individual movements have been examined, but all the parody movements need to be
studied to better understand each individually and their place in the entire work. The objective of
this study is to obtain a full understanding as to how the sources of the parody movements were
adapted to the overall structure of the Mass and how, based on harmonic and voice-leading
analysis, the whole composition is unified by a single musical structure.2
1 John Butt, Bach: Mass in B Minor, Cambridge Music Handbooks (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991;
reprint, 1999): 27-28.
2 Friedrich Smend does not see the B-minor Mass as a unified work, rather as a compendium of several independent
compositions. See chapter 4.
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Pérez Torres, René. Bach's Mass in B minor: An Analytical Study of Parody Movements and their Function in the Large-Scale Architectural Design of the Mass, thesis, December 2005; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc4945/m1/11/: accessed February 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .