Oakeley, Sir Herbert (Stanley)


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(b) Appoggiaturas.

Figures such as Bach's Accent und Trillo reflect the growing importance of ornaments that open with an accented dissonance. The result was an increasingly mannered style of ornamentation based on the displacement of consonant notes to weak beats, a trend today particularly associated with mid-century Berlin but widespread elsewhere, particularly in the frequent ‘sigh motifs’ of early 18th-century music.

Appoggiaturas accordingly received much attention from late Baroque theorists. Quantz, C.P.E. Bach and Agricola replaced the term accento with Vorschlag and distinguished between two varieties: ‘variable’ (veränderlich) and ‘invariable’ (unveränderlich). Both are slurred to the following main note, thus eliminating the anticipazione della nota and other older types of accento, which, however, continue to occur as written-out figures.

The ‘invariable’ appoggiatura is a short upper or lower auxiliary note, most often attached to relatively brief notes. The name is somewhat misleading, for it might, depending on the tempo and the value of the main note, be either ‘crushed’ against the latter or performed more deliberately. The ‘variable’ appoggiatura precedes a relatively long note, of which it takes half the value (two-thirds if the note is dotted). Despite suggestions by contemporary theorists that composers should notate the precise value of ‘variable’ appoggiaturas, this practice came into widespread use only after 1750; in earlier music the written value of appoggiaturas (when shown as little notes) appears to have no relation to their intended length.

Modern writers have often applied the mid-century rules governing the length of ‘variable’ appoggiaturas to the music of J.S. Bach. A literal reading of his ornament table would indeed give the Accent precisely half the value of the following note, but this is true also of the French models for the table, and other sources suggest that French practice favoured shorter appoggiaturas. Where Bach intended the long ‘variable’ appoggiatura, he appears to have written it as a regular note, distinguishing it from short appoggiaturas indicated by signs or small notes within the same piece, as in the F major prelude from part 2 of the ‘48’ (ex.71).

The ‘variable’ appoggiatura can fall only on the beat, but pre-beat performance of the ‘invariable’ type persisted in some quarters. In a famous disagreement, Quantz insisted on pre-beat performance, whereas C.P.E. Bach described it as odious (‘hässlich’). Their Berlin colleague Agricola, who had studied with both Quantz and J.S. Bach, prescribed on-beat performance for the descending Vorschlag but noted that some famous performers (‘einige berühmte Ausführer’) employed pre-beat performance in the French manner (‘nach Art der Franzosen’) for the first two instances of the ornament shown in ex.72.

Possibly this ‘French’ manner was employed in earlier German music, including works of J.S. Bach. Equivocal passages cannot be firmly settled without recourse to unprovable assumptions. For example, C.P.E. Bach (i.2.2.17) counselled players to avoid ornaments that disturbed the purity of the harmony (‘Reinigkeit der Harmonie’), such as by creating parallel 5ths; one might expect this rule to apply in J.S. Bach's music, dictating pre-beat performance of the appoggiatura in ex.73. Yet Agricola (p.77) noted that it was customary to permit such parallels when they were products of short appoggiaturas and inaudible. On the other hand, it is at least suggestive that the bare octaves produced by on-beat performance of the appoggiaturas in the Augmentation Canon from Bach's Art of Fugue (ex.74) can, as Neumann suggests (p.135), be avoided by the graceful alternative favoured by Quantz (ex.75).

Ornaments, §8(v): German baroque: The later 17th and early 18th centuries

(c) ‘Mordant’.

The German term Mordant was not exactly equivalent to either the French pincé or the modern ‘mordent’; thus J.S. Bach used the expression not only for the mordent as such but also for various turning figures, as at the end of a trill (see ex.69). But the familiar French sign normally indicated what we call the mordent in German keyboard music after 1700, including Bach's (see ex.68). The mordent is often specified in other instrumental repertories as well but was never considered very appropriate in singing.

Ornaments, §8(v): German baroque: The later 17th and early 18th centuries

(d) Trills.

By 1700 the older meaning of trillo as a repercussive or vibrato-like ornament was disappearing, and the German term Triller was understood as the equivalent of the French tremblement. Like Tosi, François Couperin and other Italian and French contemporaries, German sources distinguished various types of trill depending on the duration of the ornament as a whole, the presence or absence of opening ‘preparation’ and closing turn, and whether or not the initial note is ‘tied’. Only in keyboard music were some of these distinctions regularly indicated notationally (beginning with Georg Muffat), but all musicians were expected to be familiar with them. The detailed descriptions of various types of trills by Agricola and C.P.E. Bach at mid-century flesh out distinctions evident in earlier ornament tables.

As early as 1698 Muffat stated quite explicitly that trills in music for instrumental ensemble began on the upper note; the same was indicated in keyboard ornament tables given by J.C.F. Fischer (1696) and most subsequent authors. To be sure, exceptions have been noted in treatises from as late as 1730 (see Neumann, 302–3), suggesting that conservative or provincial musicians retained older approaches; Walther in 1732 still cited Printz for examples of the old tremolo. But the overwhelming evidence is that, except in special cases such as the ribattuta or the Schneller, German trills after 1700 usually began on the upper note.

Short trills generally lacked a closing turn (Nachschlag) and in quick tempos might be reduced to a simple upper appoggiatura. On keyboard instruments certain short trills might be played with a snap of the fingers, producing what was called by 1750 the half-trill (Halbtriller) or Pralltriller. This is probably the type of trill called for in the fugue subject from the Toccata in J.S. Bach's Sixth Partita (ex.76), where the ornament accentuates the upper note of a ‘sigh motif’. The player probably paused on the main note before proceeding to the next, as suggested by the entry for Trillo in Bach's ornament table and other sources (ex.77).

Marpurg (I1755) suggested that quick, snapped trills sometimes started on the main note, producing a true ‘inverted mordent’ (to use a modern term sometimes applied to the short trill). This must indeed have been employed by some players as a simplified form of the short trill, or as a survival of the old tremoletto, but the major 18th-century sources do not recommend it. C.P.E. Bach called it the Schneller, always writing it out in small notes on the rare occasions when his music called for it.

C.P.E. Bach's examples of the Pralltriller are all, in addition, instances of the ‘tied trill’, in which a slur indicates the tying of the initial (upper) note to the previous note (ex.78). The ornament corresponds to the French tremblement appuyé et lié. German composers did not always write the slur; in a passage from the Courante of J.S. Bach's D minor French Suite the slur is nevertheless implied by the appoggiatura function of the note on the downbeat (ex.79; two bars later the same figure appears with a slur over all four quavers).

Already indicated by a special sign in the music of Gottlieb Muffat, the tied trill is a subtle and difficult ornament to perform. Today one often hears the trill anticipating rather than following the beat, defeating the evident purpose of the tie, which is to sustain the preceding note into the time of the following one. There it functions as a momentary suspension before becoming the upper note of the trill. But pre-beat performance (as a form of tremoletto) might have been the intention of some older composers (see ex.61); Gottlieb Muffat's father Georg had no special sign for the tied trill.

Longer trills might be used to sustain a long note and continue it melodically to the following beat, as in the slurred figure on which J.S. Bach built the Sarabande of his sixth French Suite, using what he called a Trillo und Mordant (see ex.69). In ex.80 the closing turn is written out, and in such contexts the trill was often unmarked, its performance being taken for granted.

C.P.E. Bach and Quantz both indicated that long trills normally ended with a turn or Nachschlag, even if the latter was not notated, as in ex.81 (from a trio sonata in Telemann's Essercizi musicali, Hamburg, 1739–40). By this rule it would be wrong to perform instead an anticipation of the final note, which is notated explicitly where desired, as in ex.82 (from J.S. Bach, Cantata 210; the ornament is presumably a short trill without termination). Agricola called for a turn even after each link in an ascending chain of trills (‘Kette von Trillern’), as in another passage from Telemann's Essercizi (ex.83). The turns were apparently omitted in the descending version.

Terminations in the form of turns were expected even on many short trills that pause before proceeding to the next note. Again, Gottlieb Muffat had a sign for such a trill; the ornament is similar to the tremblement et pincé illustrated in a manuscript table of ornaments by Bach's older brother Johann Christoph, copied from Dieupart's Six suittes de clavessin (Amsterdam, c1701) (ex.84). C.P.E. Bach was fond of a later version, the prallender Doppelschlag, which consisted of a Pralltriller followed by a turn or termination; in his illustration (ex.85) the trill is ‘tied’ to a preceding long appoggiatura. C.P.E. Bach indicated this ornament with a compound symbol borrowed from François Couperin; J.S. Bach and others wrote out the closing turn (ex.86; in ex.86b the trill is probably meant to be ‘tied’).

In long as well as short trills one sometimes finds the initial note explicitly indicated by a small note (appoggiatura) or other sign (as in exx.7071). Included in tables by J.S. Bach and Gottlieb Muffat, this trill corresponds to Tosi's trillo preparato and Couperin's tremblement appuyé. Agricola, translating Tosi, declared that a trill must be prepared (‘vorbereitet’) if it is to be beautiful (‘schön’); nevertheless, the appoggiatura (Vorschlag) need not always be lengthened. This suggests a distinction between ordinary ‘unprepared’ trills and ‘prepared’ ones in which the first note is lengthened, perhaps for heightened accentuation or expressivity. Agricola followed Quantz in identifying the initial note of the trill as an appoggiatura (Vorschlag); although Quantz's examples show the latter as a separate small note, it was nevertheless for him an essential element of every trill.

Modern writers generally assume that this ‘appoggiatura’ always falls on the beat, but the point is rarely made explicit in the treatises, although it is the rule in musical illustrations. Quantz, however, implicitly allows pre-beat performance in some contexts, as when the first note would function as an unaccented passing note or coulé in the French style. Whether J.S. Bach or others employed this practice, as in the Gigue of his second French Suite (ex.87), is impossible to say.

J.S. Bach and Gottlieb Muffat are among those whose keyboard works occasionally use trills prefixed by turns or slides, which C.P.E Bach later described as trills from above and from below (‘von oben’ and ‘von unten’) (ex.88). The prefix, sometimes written out in the form of one or more small notes, may also have been added improvisatorily to many ordinary trills. J.S. Bach's term for the figure was Doppel-Cadenz, an expression sometimes applied by others to the long cadential trill with termination (see ex.69).

Few German composers before 1750 followed Couperin in specifying any chromatic alteration of the auxiliary notes in trills or other ornaments. Georg Muffat (I1690) called for the large half-step (‘grosser Halb-Thon’) in mordents, implying frequent chromatic alteration of the auxiliary to constitute a leading note, so long as it does not displease the ear (‘wofern es nur nicht übel in die Ohren fället’). Modern advice generally follows C.P.E. Bach in drawing auxiliary notes from the scale of the currently tonicized key, but Gottlieb Muffat frequently specified more liberal use of chromatic auxiliaries by setting accidentals beside the ornament signs (ex.89).

18th-century writers sometimes advised against certain obsolete or otherwise irregular types of trill, thus suggesting that they were in fact used by some performers. Quantz (9.2–4), although counselling that the speed of a trill should be appropriate to that of the tempo of a piece in general, condemned very slow trills, which he said were typical of French singing. He also proscribed trills in 3rds ‘except, perhaps, upon the bagpipe’ – an instrument that J.S. Bach imitated in the Musette of his sixth English Suite by writing out such a trill. Trills in 3rds are also occasionally written out in his early toccatas, and in some older 17th-century organ and violin music.

Whatever the type of trill, each note of the ornament was expected to be clearly articulated and in tune. Hence Agricola's detailed comments on appropriate vocal technique; he required that trills be produced from the throat and not merely by ‘bleating’, as in the ‘goat trill’ (Bockstriller) to which Quantz also objected. Quantz showed similar attention to details, providing special fingerings for trills on certain notes where they would otherwise be difficult to produce.

Ornaments, §8(v): German baroque: The later 17th and early 18th centuries

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