In my first blog post, I remarked on the unique relationship between music and religion with the analogy of the heart and brain. Religion is the truth, or brain, that many people place at the foundation of their lives; however, music has the ability to strengthen that foundation with emotion, depending on how the text is set.
When I started researching into my topic, I began with the focus that J. S. Bach created his Orgelbüchlein as a way to embellish the choral tunes that were created from. I knew that Bach was a master arranger and knew his chorale preludes were convincing pieces of music. When I discovered Benitez’s paper on Musical-rhetorical Figures in the Orgelbüchlein of J. S. Bach, I was enthralled. It contains so much powerful information and quotations from Bach’s peers, students, and other professionals of the time to present a convincing presentation of background for Bach’s awareness and education of rhetoric.
This information pointed directly back to my original blog post. Aristotle’s methods of rhetoric were designed to present the truth (or perhaps not the truth) in a specific way that would be convincing. Music, when assisting religion, has the same ability.
This helped me mold my thesis to be more focused; however, it has since caused myself some concern. While I do quote other sources, I’m not sure if my thesis is too closely aligned with Benitez’s paper overall. The issue is I’ve struggled to find any more evidence supporting the idea that Bach used rhetorical devices specifically in the Orgelbüchlein besides Benitez’s paper. I have found an 85 page dissertation studying two organ chorale preludes (listed as one of the sources in my first draft) that I would like to dive into and see if I can find more information to support my thesis from there. Perhaps my next step should be to try to branch out and widen my search for Bach’s rhetorical usage in other works. If I need more convincing evidence, I may look into Bach’s cantatas, as many movements from the cantatas share similar forms to Bach’s Orgelbüchlein chorale preludes.