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Choral Tone Comparison: Bach

Updated: Feb 4, 2018

(If you are a member of the public accessing this post, it is intended for my choral conducting class at Roberts Wesleyan College. Please forgive the "instructions"!)


Listen to these three examples of an excerpt from "Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme," BWV 140, by J. S. Bach:


A: Bach-Collegium Stuttgart/Rilling


B: Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir/Sondeckis


C: Monteverdi Choir/Gardiner


Although there are differences in style, tempo, and key, concentrate only on the choral tone in each recording. Answer the following questions in a comment:

  1. How would you describe the tone of A, B, and C?

  2. Which recording did you prefer?

  3. Why did you prefer it over the others?

After commenting yourself, come back and read your classmates' comments. Be ready to discuss in class.

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34 Comments


Lydia Roselund
Lydia Roselund
Feb 17

In example A the choir had a full sound, but it was not super well blended. You could almost hear individual voices. In B I felt that the voices were blended the best, especially in the soprano note that carried over the top, it sounded almost as if only one person was singing. I think that because of the blend, this was my favorite recording. Recording C had a full tone, but to me it almost sounded too bright at the vey beginning, when the voices first entered. 


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Jack Fecik
Jack Fecik
Feb 17

The first example sounded very staccato and had a deep rich sound. The choir's sound was a very unified oscuro and overall sounds powerful. The second recording was my personal favorite and I enjoyed the more legato and contemplative sound. It was amazing that it was difficult to even tell that these two were the same piece. While the first recording is very bright and uplifting, the second is very mellow and somber. The third recording sounded like a mix of the first two to me and I also enjoyed it, although not as much as the second recording. The third recording also had a gradual increase in sound which made the music more enticing to listen to.

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Cecilia Guerra
Cecilia Guerra
Feb 16

3 very different interpretations of Bach, example A had a much more resonant, deep, and rich tone to it. There was a clear sense of vibrato and support to the sound. I also feel like the balance was very good in this example as well. Example B, I did not get the same sense of blend. The soprano part that was sustained was the most obvious part and the moving parts kind of got lost under it. Specifically looking at tone, it was too straight for my taste and I felt as if the sound was deadened by their lack of spin behind the sound. They do not sound bad, but I hear this piece being rich and f…

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Kennedy Pattison
Kennedy Pattison
Feb 13

Bach: A: The tone sounded light in the female voices and heavy in the male voices, more of a marcato or staccato sound. B: More of a legato sound, and the tone was a good mix of chiaroscuro to me, they balanced the best. C: The female voices in this were very bright and almost too bright at times. I prefer B the most because it sounded the most balanced and had the clearest tone.

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Lauren Zielinski
Lauren Zielinski
Feb 10, 2022

In comparison to the others, choir C was very nasally and bright, however on the other hand choir B was very deep sounding and very dragging. I think choir A was the most well balanced choir having both chiaro and oscuro.

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