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The elevated status of Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers over the last century provides the starting point for an enquiry into which factors render it so durable. In going against the grain of recent attempts to discern the possible liturgical context for its original performance, this study claims that the collection as a whole (components of which undoubtedly had liturgical origins) can only be exemplary. Moreover, Monteverdi, in his intense engagement with the impersonation of liturgical chanting, has effectively rendered it the analogue of an actual service. Several features suggest that he is capturing something of the listening experience of a liturgy, complete with its distortions and memories. As a collection that is ‘about’ Vespers and which doubles the experience one might be having, this has something in common with the ‘musical work’ as defined by later classical practice, and its very religiosity resonates with the secularized ideology of musical autonomy.
Previous studies suggest that task-activated functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) can predict future cognitive decline among healthy older adults. The present fMRI study examined the relative sensitivity of semantic memory (SM) versus episodic memory (EM) activation tasks for predicting cognitive decline. Seventy-eight cognitively intact elders underwent neuropsychological testing at entry and after an 18-month interval, with participants classified as cognitively “Stable” or “Declining” based on ≥1.0 SD decline in performance. Baseline fMRI scanning involved SM (famous name discrimination) and EM (name recognition) tasks. SM and EM fMRI activation, along with Apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 status, served as predictors of cognitive outcome using a logistic regression analysis. Twenty-seven (34.6%) participants were classified as Declining and 51 (65.4%) as Stable. APOE ε4 status alone significantly predicted cognitive decline (R2 = .106; C index = .642). Addition of SM activation significantly improved prediction accuracy (R2 = .285; C index = .787), whereas the addition of EM did not (R2 = .212; C index = .711). In combination with APOE status, SM task activation predicts future cognitive decline better than EM activation. These results have implications for use of fMRI in prevention clinical trials involving the identification of persons at-risk for age-associated memory loss and Alzheimer's disease. (JINS, 2012, 18, 1–11)
The development, refinement and validation of in vitro digestibility assays for dietary protein and amino acids for single stomached mammals are reviewed. The general principles of in vitro digestibility assays and their limitations are discussed. In vitro protein digestibility assays must be accurate, rapid, cheap, simple, robust, adaptable and relevant to the processes of digestion, absorption, and metabolism. Simple in vitro methods have the potential to give useful measures of in vivo amino acid and protein digestibility for humans. In vitro methods, including the complex multi-component models of digestion simulating the various physical and chemical processes, require independent validation with in vivo data from the target species or an acceptable animal model using the most appropriate in vivo measure of digestibility. For protein sources devoid of anti-nutritional factors or plant fibre, true ileal digestibility is the recommended in vivo baseline, while for plant proteins the recommended in vivo assay is real ileal digestibility. More published comparative studies are required to adequately validate in vitro digestibility assays.
Is there really any need for another study of Bach's Passions, particularly when these (and the Matthew Passion in particular) have inspired nearly two centuries of critical literature? When I first began to consider this project, the one approach that did not seem sufficiently explored was the detailed and comparative analysis of both Passions together. However, the customary methods of approaching Bach's choral works – surveying the compositional history, verbal texts, musical forms, styles and genres – soon seemed inadequate in light of the sheer emotional and narrative scale of the Passions. Perhaps this is partly because they relate to a story that is seminal to Western history. But this could hardly be the entire reason, given that the Gospel narratives have been set so many times to music. Bach's music interacts with the various levels of text in a way that seems to go beyond merely a successful presentation of the story and its attendant affects.
A complex of questions soon began to dominate my thought on the Passions: both of them originated in the relatively local purpose of furnishing the Leipzig liturgical year (they were heard in Leipzig only intermittently between 1724 and 1750), and the vast majority of recent research has centred on details of their composition and performance, together with issues of their original theological purpose and meaning. Yet both Passions have found a deep resonance in a wide range of historical and cultural contexts, most utterly foreign to Bach's Leipzig.
Have I really achieved what I set out to do in this study of Bach's Passions? Is this anything more than a reasonably thorough – if sometimes perverse – study of these works, adorned with various cultural metaphors (ones that, many might believe, are surely more ephemeral than Bach's music)? I have certainly tried to use a very wide range of historical, philosophical and theoretical sources, although anyone familiar with this sort of literature will realize that most of the figures with whom I have engaged come more from the mainstream of thought on modernity than from its sensationalist borders. If it still seems that I should rather have produced a more systematic guide to the Passions, somehow revealing ‘the truth’ of Bach's genius, I would certainly have failed in my enterprise, on virtually every level. For the attitude I have been adopting would tend to stress that concepts such as ‘a systematic guide’, or of a form of universal, transcendent, truth lying in art, are themselves historically conditioned. The value of this music lies, I claim, not in any universal revelation it might offer (such a notion is perfectly understandable as a form of belief, but not necessarily as scholarship), but in the way it can imply a powerful dynamic relating to the modern condition. While much about this music has proved to be valuable throughout many eras within this broader condition (its highest point of appreciation being perhaps in the nineteenth century, which was in some ways the zenith of modernity), I suggest it is particularly significant in embodying the way many movements in modernity have interacted with forms of thought surviving from pre-modern practices.
The question of whether the music ‘means’ anything in relation to its text leads to another, related, question: whose voice are we hearing? Is such a voice convincing, consistent or even truthful? Does music provide a platform for multiple voices or does it, in itself, constitute a particular voice behind that of the text? Do text and music together constitute parts of the same voice or complex of voices? Obviously, these questions rely on some of the issues brought up by previous chapters, namely, subjectivity, the experience and manipulation of time, and hermeneutics, but they also provide a stronger focus on the role of the listener as essential to the way voices are constructed and perceived. WhileChapter 3 was concerned with the way meaning could be constructed, this chapter addresses the various sources of authority lying behind the discourse.
Consideration of the listener moreover includes the need to account for the portfolio of beliefs and expectations that he or she might bring to the performance. There are perhaps three broadly defined categories by which listeners have historically inferred who or what is speaking in a Bach Passion. First, the music might mirror and amplify the Gospel text, together with the various interpretative glosses, which to a believer might mean that it is representing (or at least serving) the voice of God.
A large proportion of Bach's congregation would have attended the premiere of the John Passion in 1724, together with its modified revival in 1725, and perhaps also the premiere of the Matthew Passion in 1727. On each occasion an organ prelude would have prepared the forthcoming Passion, setting something of the appropriate mood and – most important – establishing tonalities to enable the instrumentalists to tune. Perhaps one would have turned to the opening poetic text of the printed libretto in order to prepare for the basic character and mood of each Passion. In 1725, the opening text would have been the first verse of the chorale ‘O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde groß’, a well-known Passiontide chorale that would have engendered a suitable state of penitence. But in the original (and indeed subsequent) performances of the John Passion, the librettist compiled a composite text beginning with lines from Psalm 8, addressing the Lord ‘whose praise is glorious in all the lands’. The B-section text (now contemporary poetry) refers directly to the Passion, but again in a tone of universal triumph (‘Show us through your Passion that you, the true Son of God, at all times, even in the greatest abasement, have been glorified’). As many recent authors have noted, the notion of Jesus' glorification through abasement is common in biblical commentaries of Bach's time and in his possession.
Providing a detailed analysis of Bach's Passions, this 2010 book represents an important contribution to the debate about the culture of 'classical music', its origins, priorities and survival. The angles from which each chapter proceeds differ from those of a traditional music guide, by examining the Passions in the light of the mindsets of modernity, and their interplay with earlier models of thought and belief. While the historical details of Bach's composition, performance and theological context remain crucial, the foremost concern of this study is to relate these works to a historical context that may, in some threads at least, still be relevant today. The central claim of the book is that the interplay of traditional imperatives and those of early modernity renders Bach's Passions particularly fascinating as artefacts that both reflect and constitute some of the priorities and conditions of the western world.
There are many things that a book about Bach's Passions could attempt. Most obvious, perhaps, might be the sort of study that outlines the historical context of Passion settings and the role of Passions in Bach's career, followed by an exhaustive study of the Passions that Bach wrote and performed, their chronology and the details of each version and its performing forces. Readers requiring a book of this kind should, without hesitation, leave this one aside and acquire Daniel R. Melamed's Hearing Bach's Passions (Oxford University Press, 2005). Melamed also addresses larger questions about the identity of musical works in the light of the variability of their original texts and performing circumstances. Other readers might seek an interpretation of these works in terms of their theological implications and Bach's Lutheran context. Here, the list of possible books and articles is extremely extensive, but obvious places to start might be Eric T. Chafe's Tonal Allegory in the Vocal Music of J. S. Bach (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1991) and Jaroslav Pelikan's Bach Among the Theologians (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986).
This book is hardly traditional Bach scholarship, although I would hope it will still be of interest to Bach specialists. Most important, I hope it will be a contribution to the debate about the culture of ‘classical music’, its history and possible future.
Much of my approach so far has been to investigate ways in which the music of Bach's Passions can make things happen for a potential listener in real time, through the interplay of text, music and performer. I have laid particular stress on the various types of subjectivity that the singers help to constitute, how the music creates the sense of an authoritative narrating subject and how these aspects can be mapped by the listener and can work to exercise his or her own sense of being. The final part of my investigation concerns the way the music is extended as a sequence of sonic ideas that we hear played out in the present of a performance.
The starting point here is the concept of rhetoric, an ancient art that is geared towards grasping the attention of the listener, but which is also at the heart of how the orator/composer finds ideas suitable for spinning out the central topics of an oration, giving it a sense of cohesion and direction. This attitude then spills over into performance, which would normally aim to hold our attention through specific gestures and spontaneous embellishments. In the case of a performer as expert as Bach, it is highly likely that his experience as a performer would have informed many aspects of his compositional activity, however abstract or mechanical some of these might seem.
It is my thesis in this chapter that one of the factors that has rendered the Matthew Passion so successful over the course of its reception lies in its evocation of subjectivities that somehow resonate with those of the broader modern condition. Some define the modern age itself as one that is marked by a new type of subjectivity characterized by individualism and autonomy of action. I would suggest that modern forms of subjectivity are among the most crucial elements conditioning musical works of the Classic-Romantic tradition, which might embody, represent or suggest particular ways of conceiving the self. Perhaps, given the difference in their respective receptions, the forms of subjectivity evoked in the Matthew Passion are more ‘modern’ than those of the John Passion. But, if the John Passion relates to different forms of subjectivity (or none at all), this may well be significant in relation to the work's increased prestige during the course of the twentieth century. If we are indeed now living in an era when the hold of the stronger, Romantic musical work concept is loosening, there might be some pertinent parallels between the cultural issues of Bach's era and our own: in his, the stronger concept was emerging, in ours it is dispersing (or at least diversifying).
The term ‘subjectivity’ embraces much more than the popular definition of it as representing a personal, characteristically biased and ‘non-objective’ view.