Academic Commons


Key Structure and Tonal Allegory in the Passions of J. S. Bach: An Introduction

Chafe, Eric

"Allegory" is the term used by Bukofzer to describe a relationship of coherence between a musical element and something extra-musical. For example, the triad can be used to represent the trinity because it embodies the concept "three in one"-three notes, one chord. Tonal allegory, then, is the use of any tonal element-key, modulation, sharp sign, enharmonic change, cross relation or even the entire key structure of a lengthy work-to express a coherent relationship with something extra-musical. Analysis of Bach's "Passions" has historically been done a disservice, by denying his work as a tonal allegory because of its deviance from the traditional format other piece's follow that are a form of tonal allegory. In this paper I will discuss the shortcomings of such thought.



  • thumnail for current.musicology.31.chafe.39-54.pdf current.musicology.31.chafe.39-54.pdf application/download 1010 KB Download File

Also Published In

Current Musicology

More About This Work

Academic Units
Columbia University
Published Here
April 7, 2015
Academic Commons provides global access to research and scholarship produced at Columbia University, Barnard College, Teachers College, Union Theological Seminary and Jewish Theological Seminary. Academic Commons is managed by the Columbia University Libraries.