Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Bach and the Riddle of the Number Alphabet
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Musicology and Performance Studies. Musikvetenskap.
2006 (English)Book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

In 1947 the theologian and musicologist Friedrich Smend published a study which claimed that J. S. Bach regularly employed the natural-order number alphabet (A=1 to Z=24) in his works. Smend provided historical evidence and music examples to support his theory which demonstrated that by this means Bach incorporated significant words into his music, and provided himself with a symbolic compositional scheme. Since then many people have taken up Smend’s theory, interpreting numbers of bars and notes in Bach scores according to the natural-order alphabet. Through a thorough survey of different number alphabets and their uses in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century German, this book investigates the plausibility of Smend’s claims. The new evidence presented here fundamentally challenges Smend’s conclusions and the book sounds a note of caution to all who continue to use his number alphabet theory. The research will fascinate all those with an interest in the music of J. S. Bach and German Baroque culture, and will be of particular importance for music historians and analysts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Bach, Number alphabet, Germanistics, Baroque literature
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-20376ISBN: 10 0-521-02801-9OAI: diva2:186902
Available from: 2007-11-14 Created: 2007-11-14Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Tatlow, Ruth
By organisation
Department of Musicology and Performance Studies

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 18 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link