Bach’s Style as Heard in the Vocal Music
Having a very solid foundation as the basis for composing his works, Bach would engage in the creative process that bordered a “jazzy” improvisation. For example, the famous Cantata BWV 127 incorporated elements that are both ornate and expressive; the harmony, which underlies the composition traditionally, is washed away by the powerful and seemingly dissonant elements in its introduction. In other words, the Cantata BWV 127 suggests a new way of looking at the concept of harmony. The descending baseline sets the tone for the rest of the composition, delineating the above-mentioned harmonic elements. Though the changes in the chords progression split the cantata into four different temperaments, the music piece still seems very smooth and natural.
Moreover, Cantata BWV 127 incorporates the signature elements of Bach’s music style, such as recitatives. The latter, in fact, is very dry, which is quite characteristic of Bach’s style. In addition, the note values have been reduced by half in the cantata. The use of the organ in the first part and the sudden shift to the musical rhetoric in the second part create a delicate contrast, therefore, allowing both to shine in this musical piece.
The dichotomy of the vocal elements (i.e., the soprano aria) and the instrumental ones (i.e., the oboe and the ritornello) in the third part represents the essence of Bach’s music, where the music counterpoints the text. It is quite remarkable, though, that in Cantata BWV 127, the vocal part never shifts the orchestral one into the background; quite on the contrary, the significance of the words is nearly overshadowed by the musical components. The conflict between the textual and the musical elements peaks in the fourth part of the cantata, as the recitative elements are accompanied by the bass solo and slowly dissolve into an aria.