You are on page 1of 2

Bar form

(Ger. Barform).
A term denoting in musicology the three-part form AAB. The sections are
called first Stollen (pes; A), second Stollen (pes; A), together forming the
Aufgesang (frons), and Abgesang (cauda; B). German terms are normally
retained because the concept of bar form was first introduced into musical
terminology through Lorenz’s investigations into the form of Wagner's works.
It is based on an incorrect use of the word ‘Bar’ in Die Meistersinger von
Nürnberg. In Act 3 scene ii Walther von Stolzing sings the first stanza of his
Prize Song, which has AAB form. Hans Sachs then sings: ‘Das nenn’ ich mir
einen Abgesang! Seht, wie der ganze Bar gelang! … Jetzt richtet mir noch
einen zweiten Bar’. Bar here means ‘a tripartite stanza’. In this Wagner was
not in full accord with the terminology of the German Meistersinger of the 15th
to 18th centuries from whom the word comes.
In the work of the Meistersinger, a Bar is not a single stanza – that was called
Liet or (from the 16th century) Gesätz – but the whole song. The most
important formal characteristics of a Bar in the Meistersinger tradition were:
(1) it always had an uneven number of stanzas, at least three; (2) the stanzas
had to be written according to a previously determined model, one of the
Töne (see Ton (i)) allowed by the Meistersinger guilds. The Töne of the
Meistersinger were always constructed, both musically and metrically,
according to the AAB scheme or some version of this scheme (see below:
see also Meistergesang for Hans Folz's Veilchenweise). The concepts
Stollen, Aufgesang and Abgesang also come from the terminology of the
The word ‘Bar’ is probably a shortened form of Barat, a word taken from the
language of fencing and denoting a skilful thrust. The Meistersinger used the
word to designate a particularly artful song. The short form Bar (in the sense
of Meisterlied) was perhaps intended to distinguish the artistry of the
Meistersinger from the artless songs of those who were not Meistersinger.
The modern concept of bar form is therefore, etymologically considered, an
error; but it can scarcely be erased from musicological terminology. Literary
historians have not adopted the concept: they normally designate the AAB
form with the (equally questionable) term ‘canzona form’ (Kanzonenform).
AAB form can exist in various ways. The most important possibilities are as
follows: (1) AA/B, (2) ABAB/CB, (3) AA/BA, (4) AA/BB/A, (5) AA/BB/C, (6)
AA/BB. These forms are taken from medieval German song, but are also
more generally applicable. The following designations may be suggested: (1)
Kanzone (canzona), (2) Rundkanzone (rounded canzona), (3) Kanzone with
non-repeated bridge and a third Stollen (bridge – Steg – being the term used
by Meistersinger for the section joining the Aufgesang either to the repeated
Stollen at the end of the Abgesang, which is in turn called third Stollen, or to a
new final section), (4) Kanzone with repeated bridge and third Stollen, (5)
Kanzone with repeated bridge, (6) Kanzone with repeated Abgesang.
It can be shown that, in medieval song, forms (2) to (6) are unquestionably
variants of the basic AAB form. This statement contradicts the (unconvincing)
attempt by Gennrich to derive forms (1) and (2) from the hymn, but forms (3)

Pickerodt-Uthleb). 1972) H. He gave no name to (4). Bar und Barform’. Gudewill/J. Schumann and Brahms. 33– 43 H. In the more recent history of German song it receded in importance in relation to other form schemes. The importance of bar form for Wagner has been shown exhaustively by Lorenz. for (4) da capo form with Schwellenrepetition (repeated bridge. (6) Lai-Ausschnitt (lai section). 1975) J. 1932/R) C. (3) reduzierter Strophenlai (reduced stanzaic lai). 1993) HORST BRUNNER . In the early Middle Ages it can be found in the Gregorian chant repertories and later in many hymns. AMw. In a more expanded form it became particularly important in the songs of the Provençal troubadours. but saw a significant revival in the songs of Schubert. Pickerodt-Uthleb: Die Jenaer Liederhandschrift: metrische und musikalische Untersuchungen (Göppingen. In Germany it was moreover of paramount importance in the Tenorlied of the 16th century and for the Protestant Kirchenlied. BIBLIOGRAPHY MGG2 (K. 1924–33/R) F. Gudewill) and da capo form without Schwellenrepetition (non-repeated bridge. for (6) Repetitionsform (repeating form. antistrophe and epode. Lorenz: Das Geheimnis der Form bei Richard Wagner (Berlin. Pickerodt-Uthleb). (5) Lai-Ende. Pickerodt-Uthleb). Gudewill). Gennrich thereby arrived at the terms: (1) Kanzone. The AAB form – one of the most common of all musical form genres – can be documented from the time of the classical Greek ode with its strophe. the northern French trouvères and the German Minnesinger. the lai and the Leich. Other names suggested include: for (3) Reprisenbarform (bar form with reprise. Rettelbach) HDM3 A. for (5) potenzierte Barform (the Abgesang is itself built in bar form. xxviii (1971).to (6) from the sequence. Sangspruchdichter and Meistersinger. Rettelbach: Variation – Derivation – Imitation: Untersuchungen zu den Tönen der Sangspruchdichter und Meistersinger (Tübingen. 1975) E. (2) Rundkanzone (as above). Petzsch: ‘Parat-(Barant-)Weise. Brunner: Die alten Meister: Studien zu Überlieferung und Rezeption der mittelhochdeutschen Sangspruchdichter im Spätmittelalter und in der frühen Neuzeit (Munich. van der Werf: The Chansons of the Troubadours and Trouvères: a Study of the Melodies and their Relation to the Poems (Utrecht. Gennrich: Grundriss einer Formenlehre des mittelalterlichen Liedes als Grundlage einer musikalischen Formenlehre des Liedes (Halle.