Generally, there are two scenarios where the Cantatafinder might be a useful tool:
- You are looking for a cantata, but only have a vague idea of which one you need, or you may have forgotten the title / BWV and just remember a textual passage or chorale melody.The Cantatafinder can scan the database for these needed features and give you all the matching cantatas;
- You do know what cantata you want, but you do not know which SDG volume you need to buy, or you cannot find the cantata in your SDG collection. At the end of each record, the Cantatafinder tells you the SDG volume that contains this cantata, as well as the disc (CD 1 or CD 2) and even the exact tracks on this disc.
Here are a couple of ideas how you can use the Cantatafinder. You can enter any number of words in the entry field in any order to tailor your query to the desired cantata. If you recall that the cantata was written for Oculi Sunday, type Oculi; if you know this was a solo cantata, enter solo cantata and so on. You also may combine both features to find a solo cantata written for Oculi. Typical features that it would make sense to query include:
- BWV number (example)
- cantata title (example)
- word or phrase contained in the full text of the cantata (example)
- associated liturgical feast (example)
- genre (e.g. sacred cantata, chorale cantata etc.) (example)
- choral scoring (example)
- instrumentation (also Italian only) (example)
Try to combine several features as illustrated below. Imagine you are entering the following into the search field:
In this example you are looking for a cantata that includes the following features:
- the cantata is a chorale cantata
- the cantata is for performance at Easter
- the cantata was written in Mühlhausen / belongs to the Mühlhausen period
- the cantata includes a cornetto part
- the cantata contains a sinfonia
- the cantata contains the words "Wir essen und leben"
The "exact phrase" checkbox
For full text search, you may activate the "exact phrase" checkbox which limits the search to the exact order of the words entered, so as to prevent the Cantatafinder from returning too many irrelevant results:
- you enter hilf Jesu
- the "exact phrase" checkbox is not activated
- the Cantatafinder returns all cantatas which contain both the word hilf and the word Jesu somewhere in their full text (57 cantatas).
This method is particularly helpful if the cantata must meet several different conditions. For instance, you may be looking for a Christmas cantata that features a viola da gamba: enter Christmas viola da gamba to find cantata 152.
- you enter hilf Jesu
- the "exact phrase" checkbox is activated
- the Cantatafinder returns all cantatas that contain these two words in the precise order given (BWV 147, 7th movement "Hilf, Jesu, hilf, dass ich auch dich bekenne."
The radiobuttons "full search" and "restrict search to BWV No"
By activating the "restrict search to BWV No" radiobutton when entering a fgure, you can tell the Cantatafinder that this figure is a BWV number and that you want to look up the cantata with that BWV. This is, again, to avoid too many results.
When compiling the content of the Cantatafinder, the following sources where used:
- Schmieder, Wolfgang (ed.): Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach, 2d reviewed edition, Wiesbaden 1990
- Neumann, Werner: Handbuch der Kantaten Johann Sebastian Bachs, Leipzig 1947
- The scores are provided by Yu Chao. They do not correspond to the most recent Bach research. However, I decided to place the links because I do not know an alternative that is in the public domain, and I would rather have anything than nothing.
- The full text is based on the site "The Bach Cantatas" compiled by Walter F. Bischof; in case of deviations, the wording as provided by the original CD booklet of the respective SDG edition was preferred.
- Apart from full text, the Cantatafinder provides references concerning the use of chorale melodies. Unlike the modern Evangelisches Kirchengesangbuch (EKG) which associates particular melodies with particular hymns, contempory composers or poets (and Bach too) tended to treat (and combine) these melodies and texts independently of one another. This is why Bach frequently used a chorale melody with a text that, according to the modern EKG, is dedicated to a "different" melody. And of course, some chorals use a verse other than the title verse of the underlying hymn. In order to provide the user with the opportunity of searching melodies (as opposed to plain text search), the Cantatafinder creates a corresponding reference at the end of the respective entry, for instance in this cantata. The main sources used to create this feature were a) the aforementioned work of Werner Neumann, which although rather old, is still a reliable source at this point; b) the aforementioned work of Schmieder and c) the site of Aryeh Oron which dedicates a separate section to this very complex topic.
About the Cantatafinder
The Cantatafinder is an inofficial tool for navigating in the Soli Deo Gloria series.