Articles & Research

Jump to:    Articles      Additional Research      Comparative Scores      Bibliography     


"So how many Bach chorales are there?" — an answer to this surprisingly complicated question. (topic(s): general)

"Parallel Fifths & Octaves in the Chorales" — an account of the consecutive fifths and octaves appearing in the chorales and the editorial liberties taken in regard to these consecutives by early editors of Bach chorale collections. (topic(s): theory, analysis, part–writing, counterpoint)

"Speculations Regarding the Original Liturgical Occasions of the Individual BWV 253–438 Chorales" — a listing of speculations regarding the liturgical occasions of individual chorales surviving from secondary sources. Included are speculations from Smend and Häfner regarding the lost St. Mark Passion and the Picander–Jahrgang as cited in the NBA commentary volumes.


"A History of the Breitkopf Collection of J. S. Bach’s Four–Part Chorales" — a thorough account by Thomas Braatz and posted at www.bach–

Additional Research

Meter and Time Signatures in the Chorales: a listing of all chorales not in 4/4 (i.e. "c") meter. Additional meter–related information is also provided.

Timeline of Events Related to Bach Chorale Collections: a chronology of events related to the important early collections of Bach chorales, with particular focus on the Birnstiel–Breitkopf publications.


Chorales in Bar Form (aab) – that is, with a repeated Aufgesang followed by an Abgesang, the most common type of Lutheran chorale structure.

Chorales with Written–out Aufgesangen

Comparative Scores

Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh darein — Three chorale settings arranged by date.
BWV: 2.6, 77.6, 153.1

Christ lag in Todesbanden — Five chorale settings of Martin Luther’s tune arranged by BWV. All settings are aligned and placed in the same key for easy comparison.
BWV: 4.8, 158.4, 277, 278, 279

Freu dich sehr, o meine Seele — Seven chorale settings of Louis Bourgeois’s tune arranged by date.
BWV: 19.7, 25.6, 30.6, 32.6, 39.7, 70.7, 194.6

Jesu, nun sei gepreiset — Four chorale settings along with the tune’s appearance in the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch. All settings are placed in the same key for easy comparison.
BWV: 41.6, 171.6, 190.7, 362

O Gott, du frommer Gott (Melody #3) — Eight chorale settings of Ahasverus Fritsch’s tune arranged by date. All settings are placed in the same key for easier comparison.
BWV: 45.7, 64.4, 94.8, 128.5, 129.5, 197a.7, 398; 1125

Was mein Gott will, das gscheh allzeit — Seven chorale settings arranged by date, along with the tune’s appearance in the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch. All settings are placed in the same key for easy comparison.
BWV: 65.7, 72.6, 92.9, 103.6, 111.6, 144.6, 244.25

Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten — Seven chorale settings of Georg Neumark’s tune placed in the same key for easy comparison and arranged by date. A second version presents the settings in their original keys.
BWV: 84.5, 88.7, 93.7, 166.6, 179.6, 197.10, 434

Wo soll ich fliehen hin — Five chorale settings arranged by date, along with the tune’s appearance in the Neu Leipziger Gesangbuch. All settings are aligned and placed in the same key for easy comparison.
BWV: 5.7, 89.6, 136.6, 148.6, 188.6

Chorale Scholarship Bibliography

Boyd, Malcolm. Bach Chorale Harmonization and Instrumental Counterpoint. London: Kahn & Averill, 1999 (republished volume of two essays from 1967).

Burns, Lori. "Modal Identity and Irregular Endings in Two Chorale Harmonizations by J.S. Bach," Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 38, No. 1 (Spring 1994), pp.43–77.

Burns, Lori. Bach’s Modal Chorales. Pendragon Press, 1995.

Dirst, Matthew. "Inventing the Bach Chorale," in: Engaging Bach: The Keyboard Legacy from Marpurg to Mendelssohn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.

Hill, David. "The Time of the Sign: ’O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden’ in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion," The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 14, No. 4 (Autumn, 1996), pp. 514–543.

Jerold, Beverly. "Johann Philipp Kirnberger and the Bach Chorale Settings," Bach, Vol. 45, No.1 (2014), pp. 34–43.

Kielian–Gilbert, Marianne. "Inventing a Melody with Harmony: Tonal Potential and Bach’s ’Das alte Jahr vergangen ist’." Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 50, No.1 (Spring 2006), pp. 77-101.

Leaver, Robin. "Suggestions for Future Research into Bach and the Chorale," Bach, Vol. 42, No.2 (2011), pp. 40–63.

Marshall, Robert L. The Compositional Process of J.S. Bach: A Study of the Autograph Scores of the Vocal Works. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972.

Marshall, Robert L. The Music of Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sources, the Style, the Significance. New York: Schirmer Books, 1989.

Marshall, Robert L. "How J.S. Bach Composed Four–Part Chorales," The Musical Quarterly, Vol. 56, No. 2 (April 1970), pp.198–220.

Meredith, Sarah. "’Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern’ in the Chorale Cantatas of J.S. Bach," The Choral Journal, Vol. 38, No. 5 (December 1997), pp.9–14.

Platen, Emil. "Zur Echtheit einiger Choralsätze Bachs," Bach–Jahrbuch, Vol. 61 (1975), pp.50–61.

Rose, Stephen. "Daniel Vetter and the Domestic Keyboard Chorale in Bach’s Leipzig," Early Music, Vol. 33, No. 1 (February 2005), pp. 39–53.

Schulze, Hans–Joachim. "’150 Stück von den Backfischen Erben’: zur Überlieferung der vierstimmigen Choräle Johann Sebastian Bachs," Bach–Jahrbuch, Vol. 69 (1983), pp. 81–100.

Schulze, Hans–Joachim. "’Vierstimmige Choräle, aus den Kirchen Stäken des Herrn J.S. Bachs zusammen getragen’: Eine Handschrift Carl Friedrich Faschs in der Bibliothek der Sing–Akademie zu Berlin," Jahrbuchs des Staatlichen Instituts fur Musikforschung Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Vol. 2003 (2003), pp. 9–31.

Stanley, Glenn. "Bach’s ’Erbe’: The Chorale in the German Oratorio of the Early Nineteenth Century," 19th Century Music, Vol. 11, No.2 (Autumn, 1987), pp. 121–149.

Temperley, David. "Key Structure in ’Das alte Jahr vergangen ist̵," Journal of Music Theory, Vol. 50, No.1, Fiftieth Anniversary Issue (Spring, 2006), pp.103–110.

Wachowski, Gerd. "Die vierstimmigen Choräle Johann Sebastian Bachs. Untersuchungen zu den Druckausgaben von 1765 bis 1932 und zur Frage der Authentizität," Bach–Jahrbuch, Vol. 69 (1983), pp. 51–79.

Wolff, Christoph. "Images of Bach in the Perspective of Basic Research and Interpretive Scholarship," The Journal of Musicology, Vol. 22, No. 4 (Fall 2005), pp.503–520.

Wolff, Christoph. "On the Recognition of Bach and ’the Bach Chorale’: Eighteenth–Century Perspectives", in Bach: Essays on His Life and Music, Harvard University Press (1994), pp.383–390.