Figure (music)

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A figure is an elementary, musical twist of a melodic, harmonic or compositional type. Later a musical figure theory of expression methods develops .

Word origin and conceptual history

In the Middle Ages, the term figura ( Latin for figure) denoted a single musical symbol (also called nota ), which was later extended to entire groups of notes and symbols . The term is often applied to subthematic elements that have little or no thematic substance. This includes u. a. typical patterns for accompanying voices (e.g. Alberti bass ), which are sometimes also called accompanying figures . One speaks of a figure in counterpoint (e.g. inversion , cancer ).

The figure in an ornamental sense is used for the first time in relation to figural music from the 14th to 16th centuries. Century.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, various German music theorists dealt with musical-rhetorical figures whose naming was based on traditional rhetoric . Frequent, particularly distinctive or contradicting the rules of counterpoint musical expressions were named with rhetorical (or rhetoric-based) terms. Today these figure catalogs are summarized under the term figure theory .

Figure theory

The figure doctrine referred to in the (German) music theory of the 17th and 18th centuries, the summary of certain musical twists to catalogs of so-called musical-rhetorical figures whose designation was based on the traditional rhetoric adopted by either directly originally rhetorical terms for musical phrases or own names related to rhetoric were invented. The new compositional techniques and genres ( madrigal , opera ) developed in Italy in the second half of the 16th century were of particular importance to the early authors of the theory of figures . Certain features of this new style could no longer be explained by the conventional counterpoint rules and were justified by the requirement that the meaning of the text should be represented musically. At least the early catalogs are therefore also a reaction to the new compositional techniques introduced in madrigals and operas and the intensified treatment of the text. These compositional abnormalities were systematically recorded and assigned terms that came from rhetoric . The scope, content and motivation of these figure catalogs differ depending on the author. There was no uniform tradition of musical and rhetorical figures.

Since all authors of music-theoretical works in which a musical figure theory is mentioned come from the German-speaking area, one must speak of a local special development. It is questionable whether these figure catalogs were actually adopted by composers as a template for the design of their works. First and foremost, the figures represented an analytical tool for their inventors.

The first music theorists who dealt with the systematics of musical figures were Joachim Burmeister ( Hypomnematum musicae poeticae , 1599, Musica autoschediastike , 1601, Musica poetica , 1606), Johannes Nucius ( Musices poeticae , 1613), Athanasius Kircher ( Musurgia universalis , 1650).

Historical overview

Joachim Burmeister

The first known musical theory of figures was developed by Joachim Burmeister and found its final form in his Musica Poetica of 1606. The entire twelfth chapter is devoted to the characters. Burmeister defines the term "figure" as follows:

"Ornamentum sive Figura musica est tractus musicus, tam in Harmonia quam in Melodia, certa periodo, quae a clausula initium sumit, et in clausulam desinit, circumscriptus, qui a simplici compositionis ratione discedit, & cum virtute ornatiorem habitum assumit & induit"

"Ornament or figure is a musical movement limited to a certain section - both in harmony and in melody - which begins with a Clausel and ends in a Clausel that deviates from the simple type of composition and takes on a more ornate attitude with virtue and appropriates. "

- J. Burmeister : Musica Poetica, p. 55

Burmeister differentiates between harmonic, melodic and harmonic-melodic figures. Although he gives examples of such figures, he also notes that it is not possible to formulate rules for the formation of figures, because:

"Siquidem varietas omnium cuiusque magna et multiplex apud auctores deprehenditus, ut vix numerum eorum nobis liceat indagare."

"Their diversity is so wide and large among composers that it is hardly possible for us to determine their number."

- J.Burmeister : Musica Poetica, p. 56

In Burmeister's view, an infinite number of figures are possible in principle. Figures are what defines the individuality of a work and the composer's style of composition. For Burmeister, the figure theory is an analytical tool for a better understanding and description of the way in which composers design the musical material. Burmeister's concept of figure is semantically largely neutral. This does not rule out a text-interpreting use, but the figure itself is not bound to specific textual content (Burmeister leaves out the associated text in all examples). Two special figures are provided for text-interpreting or affect-arousing musical sections, namely the hypotyposis (representation of the text content) and the pathopoeia (representation of the affect expressed by a text passage). Due to this separation of text reference and composition-technical (composition-technical) definition of the figures, the use of figures and their (always possible) interpretation can be flexibly applied to the special musical situation. Burmeister integrates his musical-rhetorical figures into a style of style that is also based on rhetoric. Each contrapuntal type of sentence is assigned a stylistic term:

Musical types of sentences and rhetorical styles with Burmeister
Record type Style properties characters
simplex humile small intervals, only consonances No
fractum mediocre few dissonances and large intervals Yes
coloratum sublime more large intervals and dissonances Yes
- mixtum Mixture of the top three styles Yes

The genus simplex is the unadorned, largely homophonic, four-part cantional movement . Since this simple type of movement is little more than the extension of a chorale melody by three accompanying parts, which strictly follow the rules of counterpoint, there are no figures in this type of movement. However, this type of sentence can itself become a figure (noema), namely when it is inserted into a sentence that otherwise has a more complex type of sentence.

In addition, Burmeister endeavors to assign authors to the various styles who represent a particular style in an exemplary manner and are therefore recommended by Burmeister for imitation. This shows another element that Burmeister has taken from the tradition of classical rhetoric: studying exemplary speakers and authors was an important tool in rhetorical training. At the same time, the naming of authors reveals a fundamental problem with the transfer of rhetorical terms and methods to music. The authors named by Burmeister (above all Orlando di Lasso) all come from the 16th century and represent a style of composition that at the time (shortly after 1600) was already considered outdated and out of date in large parts of Europe and soon became stile antico was designated. Burmeister's endeavors to isolate stylistic features and to codify them by naming models is nullified by this rapid change in style.

Athanasius Kircher

With the Musurgia Universalis (1650), Athanasius Kircher created a compendium of musical knowledge that was unique at the time. Although Kircher puts the emphasis on the numerical in music (that is, the music is still placed in the medieval system of the septem artes liberales ), he also mentions musical-rhetorical figures, but only briefly in two far apart places in the 5th and 8th book . Kircher defines the figures analogously to rhetoric and emphasizes their affect effect:

“Figurae in Musurgia nostra idem sunt praestantque, quod […] varii modi dicendi in Rhetorica. Quemadmodum enim Rhetor artificioso troporum contextu Auditorem movet nunc ad risum modo ad planctum […] ita et Musica artificioso clausularum sive periodorum harmonicarum contextu. "

“The characters in our music are and do the same as […] the various idioms in rhetoric. Just as the rhetorician makes the listener laugh and complain through artistic tropes [...], so does music with artistic clauses or harmonic periods. "

- A. Kircher : Musurgia Universalis, p. 366

Kircher has largely adopted his figures from the works of Johannes Nucius (1613) and Joachim Thuringus (1624). Following these models, Kircher divides the figures into two groups:

  1. Three figurae principales : Commissura (fast, gradual ascending or descending notes), Syncopatio (rhythmic shift) and Fuga (a musical section that is set as a fugue that is conditioned by the text). They are discussed in the 5th book.
  2. Twelve figurae minus principalis : u. a. Repetitio (repetition of a section to give it greater emphasis - suitable for violent passions such as wildness) and Climax (a gradual increase - suitable for expressing love and longing). They are defined in the 8th book. Strangely enough, there is also a short list of the 12 characters in the 5th book, but this does not correspond to the characters defined in the 8th book.

Overall, Kircher closely follows Thuringus in these sections (the number and classification of the figures match), but emphasizes the affect-arousing effect more than his predecessor. This is particularly evident in the figurae minus principalis , in which Kircher also explicitly mentions the expression of affect for each figure.

Nevertheless, the characters obviously only play a secondary role for Kircher and are more poorly than properly assimilated into his cosmological musical conception. The division of the figure definitions into two widely spaced parts of the Musurgia Universalis and the overall rather concise explanations of the figures reinforce this impression. In the German (partial) translation of the Musurgia Universalis by Andreas Hirsch (1662), the corresponding sections on the musical figures are significantly missing.

Since Kircher's Musurgia Universalis was one of the standard works of music literature of the time well into the 18th century, his theory of figures, despite its modest scope, had a great influence on most of the later authors who dealt with musical-rhetorical figures.

Christoph Bernhard

The system of record types in Christoph Bernhard

Christoph Bernhard's theory of figures is of particular importance because it is the only source written by a reasonably important composer. From around the 16th century onwards, more and more dissonances appeared in pieces of music that would not actually have been allowed under the rules of counterpoint, especially in the genres madrigal and (a little later) opera. Often these abnormal dissonances were justified effectively display the contents of the sung text with the need (a famous example is the criticism of Giovanni Artusi in Monteverdi's dissonance and Monteverdi's justification). This is where Bernhard starts, but tries to integrate the rule violations as additions and exceptions to the counterpoint. All of Bernhard's figures aim to deal with dissonances that would not be allowed in the strict contrapuntal sentence:

"Figuram I call a certain way of using the dissonants, so that they are not only disgusting, but rather acceptable and display the composer's art."

- Ch. Bernhard : Tractatus Compositionis Augmentatus, Cap. 16 §3

Bernhard's figures thus represent extensions and exceptions to the contrapuntal rules of sentence. This is also made clear by the fact that, in addition to the figure examples, a corrected version is always given that has been adapted to the contrapuntal rules. Like Burmeister, Bernhard also distributes his characters in different sentence styles, but also dispenses with an assignment of rhetorical styles to the types of sentence. Instead, Bernhard divides the figures into the different types of sentences.

The contrapunctus aequalis is a dissonance-free movement without figures. In contrast, there is the contrapunctus inaequalis , which contains dissonances and can also have figures. The contrapunctus inaequalis is in turn divided into two groups: the stylus gravis and the stylus luxurians .

The stylus gravis is the counterpoint style of the “ancients” (ie the predecessor of Bernhard and his contemporaries) and contains four figures. The stylus luxurians is the counterpoint style of the “modern” generation, which is more dissonant than the stylus gravis and therefore needs more figures to justify these dissonances. It is again divided into two subgroups, namely the stylus communis (with 15 figures) and the stylus theatralis (with 8 figures). In particular, the figures of the stylus theatralis should be suitable for arousal of emotions (hence their name, because this property makes them particularly suitable for operas). The list of figures does not have to be exhaustive. Bernhard z. B. point out that there are more figures in the stylus theatralis than in the stylus communis . However, he only lists about half as many figures in the stylus theatralis as in the stylus communis .

In addition, Bernhard also has the so-called figurae superficiales , which are formed from four figures each of the stylus communis and stylus theatralis . The term superficiales (superficial) perhaps comes from the fact that these figures do not come from music theory (i.e. do not rest on a theoretical foundation), but were adopted from musical practice.

Johann Mattheson

The last actual figure catalogs appear in the first half of the 18th century. Johann Mattheson still mentions figures, but hardly gives any precise definitions for them. Even in the Perfect Capellmeister of 1739, Johann Mattheson does not attach great importance to the definition of musical figures, which ultimately no longer correspond to his sensualistically oriented musical image. However, he mentions the possibility of depicting rhetorical figures in music:

"The space and our intention do not allow it, otherwise one could easily introduce the 12 word figures, including the 17 saying figures and see how many and which among them send themselves to decorate a melody."

- J. Mattheson : The perfect Capellmeister, p. 243

Mattheson puts a lot of emphasis on the statement that rhetoric and music have the same goals and also have analogous working methods when composing or writing a speech. But there are also further parallels between language and music, especially in phrasing: Mattheson describes a hierarchical phrasing model that uses grammatical terms such as full stop, comma, exclamation mark, etc. Hence the concept of sound speech that Mattheson introduced for music. For Mattheson, music is not simply an aid to clarify a text, but in his opinion music contains a specifically musical message. The way this content is conveyed is similar to language, but the content itself is not necessarily linguistic. This makes Mattheson one of the first to begin to understand music as an autonomous art that is perfect in itself and that does not only gain its right to exist through the setting of language.

Other authors

The treatises of other authors are mostly of secondary importance for the theory of figures. Most of the time, they are strongly based on one of the three authors described in more detail above (up to the literal adoption of character definitions). In some cases this is due to the author's lexical demands (e.g. Johann Gottfried Walther and Janowka).

It is worth mentioning Johannes Nucius, to whom the division of the figures into figurae principales and figurae minus principales goes back, which were later adopted by Kircher (mediated by Thuringus) and Bernhard's distinction between figurae fundamentales and figurae superficiales also seems to be influenced by the idea of ​​Nucius (although the stock of figures, which is summarized under the terms, is not identical).

While most authors not only know the figure names adopted from rhetoric, but also use new names for specifically musical figures, awl and disc limit themselves to depicting the linguistic figures in the music. Sometimes the boundaries between "simple" manners (e.g. trills) and "real" figures (e.g. Meinrad Spieß ) are blurred .

Johann Nikolaus Forkel is often seen as the last representative of the theory of figures . In his music history, published in 1788, he once again mentions musical-rhetorical figures, albeit in a rather vague and superficial manner, and only in the introduction. As with Mattheson, the analogy of the structures of speeches and pieces of music seems to be more important for Forkel than the implementation of rhetorical figures in music. But this aspect also fades into the background, because in the second half of the 18th century the new hermeneutic explanatory model displaced rhetoric from art theory. In many more recent musicological publications on figure theory, Forkel is therefore no longer included in the list of authors with figure theory.

Relationships between the character catalogs

Schematic representation of the relationships between the figure catalogs

Although Johann Gottfried Walther's music lexicon in particular can claim a certain significance beyond the figure theme, Bernhard, Kircher and Burmeister apparently had the greatest aftereffect for figure theory.

The graphic opposite shows the relationships between the figure catalogs of the various authors (without claim to completeness), based on the descriptions by Bartel (1997) and Klassen (2001). The solid lines indicate secure relationships, and dotted lines indicate unsafe or weak relationships. Some special cases are also taken into account.

The awl and disc see in the musical figures only “translations” of the actually rhetorical figures. In the case of Scheibe, a relatively close reference to Johann Christoph Gottsched's critical poetry can also be noted, which is already clear in the title of his work (Der Critische Musikus) .

Wolfgang Caspar Printz also occupies a special position in that he largely derives his musical figures from the decorative art of musical performance practice and often gives these figures Italian names (Latin or Greek names were otherwise common).

The graphic shows how strong Kircher's influence was on the following authors: Most of the authors after 1650 also refer to Kircher in their figure theories. This may also have something to do with the fact that Kircher's music-theoretical work at that time was by far the best-known of all the authors mentioned here, the importance of which went far beyond figure theory (which Kircher treats relatively superficially).

The special position of Johann Gottfried Walther is also clearly recognizable: In keeping with his lexical requirements, he made use of most of the figure catalogs available at the time. Johann Mattheson is clearly set apart from the other authors.

The missing arrows from other authors on Mattheson can be explained on the one hand by the fact that he does not define any figures and on the other hand by a significantly changed basic attitude towards music and the relationship between rhetoric and music. Particularly with a view to Mattheson, it should be noted again that the graphic only refers to the theory of figures. Mattheson was certainly familiar with the writings of most of the authors mentioned here, but appears here isolated from the other authors as he does not define any figures.

The theory of figures as a musicological model in the 20th century

Arnold Schering published the essay The Teaching of Musical Figures in the Church Music Yearbook in 1908. In it he stated that the composition theory of the 16. – 18. Century was strongly based on rhetoric. The figure theory was a central component of these teachings. The musical figures are supposed to be aids for text interpretation in works of the musical baroque, so to speak a “key” to the semantic deciphering of the music of this epoch. In the decades that followed, Schering's suggestions were taken up by other musicologists, and it appeared that figure theory would become a standard tool for the analysis of works of Baroque composers, and in some cases even beyond that for works of the 16th and 19th centuries. Century. With the article on musical-rhetorical figures by Arnold Schmitz in The Music in Past and Present (Volume 4, 1954), figure theory was included in one of the most important reference works for musicologists. Musical figures were no longer understood only as text interpretations in vocal music, but the "meanings" of the figures derived from them were also partially transferred to instrumental music.

In the second half of the 20th century, doubts arose about the actual existence of a uniform or, in the 17th and 18th centuries, constantly further developed figure theory. More and more attention was drawn to deficiencies and contradictions. a. on the following:

  • The inconsistency of the various figure theories: The definitions of the concept of figure, as well as the system and classification of the individual figures differ in part significantly. The figure catalogs also show great differences. No single author even remotely enumerates the approx. 150 figures that are obtained if you add up the figures of all authors. The summary of the figure theories of the baroque authors with their partially overlapping or contradicting figure definitions to form an “over-figure theory” is therefore not convincing in terms of content and methodologically questionable.
  • There are no sources on the theory of figures whose author does not come from the German-speaking area.
  • Many influential German music theorists from the period between 1600 and 1750 (e.g. Seth Calvisius, Johann Andreas Herbst, Andreas Werckmeister) do not say a word about the theory of figures in their works.
  • Of the well over 200 music acts that were written in the German-speaking area alone during this time, only about 15 mention musical-rhetorical figures. If one counts the lexically oriented and other works that only list the figure catalogs of earlier authors, there are even fewer left that integrate an independent theory of figures. This does not indicate an intensive occupation with the topic.
  • While musical expressions can be used for text interpretation and / or affect arousal, standardization of these expressions would quickly wear out the effect and they would have to be replaced.

Accordingly, the various treatises in which musical-rhetorical figures are presented represent a regionally limited, specifically German special development. The exact reasons that led to this development are unclear.

Despite all these reservations, the article Music and Rhetoric in the new edition of Music in History and the Present follows the tradition of Schering's interpretation of the theory of figures and even extends its scope into the 19th century. It is interesting that even in the 20th century it is predominantly German authors who deal with musical-rhetorical figures. The relatively few non-German authors often take a critical stance on the subject.

Nevertheless, Schering's conception of a uniform baroque figure theory had lasting effects on the analytical method of baroque music. It initiated research into new areas of baroque music and was a popular explanatory model in the 20th century - at least in German musicology. Some terms have established themselves as technical terms outside of the context of figure theory (e.g. the passus duriusculus). It should not be forgotten that the discussions about figure theory ultimately also led to the relationship between rhetoric and music in the Baroque era being better researched and understood.


There are over 150 rhetorical figures. Some of the most important are listed below:

  • Abruptio (Latin: break): sudden termination of the sentence.
  • Anabasis (great ascent) or Ascensus (Latin for ascent): an ascending musical line.
  • Analepsis: A figure is repeated several times at the same pitch.
  • Anaphora : a figure is repeated several times but not regularly.
  • Anticipatio : Advancing a tone of the following harmony.
  • Antithet : Comparative juxtaposition of two opposing aspects (for example major-minor).
  • Apokope (Gr. Apokopé , cutting off, omission) or Abruptio (Latin for rupture): sudden termination of a melody or a movement.
    Apocope in the word “afraid” in soprano I, II and tenor
  • Aposiopesis : general pause , it expressesdying, sleeping or silenceas affect .
  • Cadentia duriuscula : “the hard end” ( cadentia from Latin cadere: “to fall”; duriuscula from Latin durus: “hard”, “outrageous”): closing formula with unprepared dissonancesover the fourth and third last bass note .
  • Circulatio (lat. Circulus , circle, ring): a circular figure that is supposed to express a circular, encircling movement, but also rule, crown.
  • Dubitatio (Latin dubitare: to doubt, to hesitate, to hesitate) is expressed by a dubious modulation or by a standstill.
  • Emphasis : A group of characters that, through repetition, reinforce a statement.
  • Exclamatio (Latin exclamation): according to Johann Gottfried Walther (1732) a jump of a minor sixth upwards, but according to general practice jumps up and down from the interval of a third
  • Extensio (Latin for expansion): describes the extension of a dissonance sound beyond its normal duration.
  • Fauxbourdon : denotes successive third-sixth sounds that indicate something wrong or sinful.
  • Heterolepsis : a sequence of tones that belong to different voices from a contrapuntal point of view
  • Homoioteleuton (gr. Hómoios , similar, gr. Teleute , ende) or Homoioptoton (gr. Ptosis , case, case): a general pause that was used in dialogues and questions to attract attention.
  • Interrogatio (Latin: to ask, to question): a rising melodic figure that was used to denote a question.
  • Katabasis (Gr. Descent) or Descensus (Latin: descent): a downward musical line to underline the humiliation.
  • Climax : Multiple, increasing repetitions on a higher level.
  • Metalepsis : This figure is understood to be a fuga in which at least 2 voices, which start at the same time or at a certain distance, present different motifs. These are taken over by the other voices and varied alternately.
  • Noema (music) (Gr. Thought): a homophonic section in a polyphonic piece to emphasize a passage in the text.
  • Passus duriusculus (Latin for "the hard / difficult walk" ): voice that moves in chromatic semitone steps.
  • Pathopoeia (gr. Pathos , suffering, gr. Poíesis , education): tones foreign to the ladder, as text-related figures, arouse affects (suffering or passion). Example: Passus duriusculus , a chromatically ascending or descending line, usually in the space of a fourth (also known as " Lamento bass", see Lamento ), unusual steps (large second ), or Saltus duriusculus , a large, unusual, mostly falling jump ( diminished fourth, diminished fifth , minor seventh ), which represents "falsehood".
  • Suspiratio (Latin suspiritus , sigh, groan) or Stenasmos (gr. Stenós , eng): the musical line is interrupted by eighth or sixteenth pauses.
  • Syncopatio (Greek for slapping, slaughter, hammering, forging, together, at the same time): rhythmic shifting of the regular measure or measure order.
  • Tirata (ital. Tirare , to pull): sequence of gradual ascending or descending notes of the same note value.
  • Transitus (Latin transire , to exceed, to go over): Transit dissonance that connects consonances with one another.

However, not all musical figures were designated by their own term. For example, hypotyposis (gr. Hypó , lower ; gr. Typos , form, shape) in Burmeister means any figure that clarifies the meaning of the text.

The most important historical sources on the theory of figures (in chronological order)

  • Joachim Burmeister: Hypomnematum musicae poeticae . Rostock, 1599.
  • ders .: Musica autoschediastike . Rostock, 1601.
  • ders .: Musica poetica . Rostock, 1606.
  • Johannes Nucius: Musices poeticae sive de compositione cantus . Neisse, 1613.
  • Joachim Thuringus: Opusculum bipartitum de primordiis musicis . Berlin, 1624.
  • Athanasius Kircher: Musurgia universalis . Rome, 1650.
  • Elias Walther: Dissertatio musica . Tubingen, 1664.
  • Christoph Bernhard: Tractatus compositionis augmentatus . Dating uncertain: after 1657.
  • ders .: Detailed report on the use of the consonants and dissonants . Dating uncertain: after 1663.
  • Wolfgang Caspar Printz: Phrynis Mytilenaeus or satyrical composer . Dresden / Leipzig, 1696.
  • Johann Georg Ahle: Musical Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter Talks . Muhlhausen, 1695-1701.
  • Thomas Balthasar Janowka: Clavis ad thesaurum magnae artis musicae . Prague, 1701.
  • Mauritius Johann Vogt: Conclave thesauri magnae artis musicae . Prague, 1719.
  • Johann Gottfried Walther: Praecepta of the musical composition , 1708.
  • ders .: Musical Lexicon, or Musical Library . Leipzig, 1732.
  • Johann Mattheson: The perfect Capellmeister . Hamburg, 1739.
  • Meinrad Spiess: Tractatus musicus compositorio-practicus . Augsburg, 1745.
  • Johann Adolf Scheibe: The Critical Musicus . Leipzig, 1745.
  • Johann Nikolaus Forkel: General history of music . Göttingen, 1788.

See also


  • Dietrich Bartel: Handbook of musical figure theory. 4th rev. Edition. Laaber, Laaber 1997, ISBN 3-89007-340-9 .
  • Wolfgang Budday: Musical figures as compositional freedom in Bach's organ chorale “Adam's fall is completely corrupt”. In: Hans-Joachim-Schulze, Christian Wolff (Hrsg.): Bach yearbook. Volume 63, 1977, p. 139 ff.
  • Carl Dahlhaus: The Figurae superficiales in the treatises of Christoph Bernhard. In: Wilfried Brennecke et al. (Ed.): Report on the International Musicology Congress Bamberg 1953 (= Congress Report Bamberg 1953. ) Bärenreiter, Kassel 1954, pp. 135–138.
  • Carl Dahlhaus: Musica poetica and musical poetry . In: Archives for Musicology . 23, 1966, pp. 110-124.
  • Carl Dahlhaus: Seconda pratica and musical figure theory. In: Ludwig Finscher (Ed.): Claudio Monteverdi - Festschrift Reinhold Hammerstein for his 70th birthday. Laaber, Laaber 1986, pp. 141-151.
  • Rolf Dammann: The concept of music in the German baroque. Volk, Cologne 1967, ISBN 3-89007-015-9 .
  • Walther Dürr: Language and Music - History, Genres, Analysis Models. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1994, ISBN 3-7618-1153-5 .
  • Arno Forchert : Bach and the tradition of rhetoric. In: Dietrich Berke (ed.): Early music as aesthetic present - Bach. Handel. Contactor. Report on the international musicological congress in Stuttgart 1985. Volume 1. Bärenreiter, Kassel 1987, pp. 169–178.
  • Andreas Hirsch: Philosophical extract and excerpt from the world-famous German Jesuit Athanasii Kircheri by Fulda Musurgia Universali in six books. Schwäbisch Hall 1662. (Reprint in: Melanie Wald (ed.): Athanasius Kircher: Musurgia universalis Schwäbisch Hall 1662. Reprint of the German partial translation by Andreas Hirsch 1662. Bärenreiter, Kassel 2006, ISBN 3-7618-1869-6 ).
  • Janina Klassen: Musica Poetica and musical figure theory - a productive misunderstanding. In: Günter Wagner (Hrsg.): Yearbook of the state institute for music research Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Metzler, Stuttgart 2001, pp. 73-83.
  • Hartmut Krones : Music and Rhetoric. In: Ludwig Finscher (Hrsg.): The music in past and present. Volume 7. 2. rework. Output. Bärenreiter / Metzler, Kassel from 1994, Sp. 814–852.
  • Ulrich Michels: dtv atlas on music. Volume 2: Historical Part: From the Baroque to the Present. Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag, Munich 1985, ISBN 3-423-03023-2 .
  • Siegfried Oechsle: Musica Poetica and Counterpoint: On the music-theoretical functions of the theory of figures in Burmeister and Bernhard. In: Schütz yearbook . 1998, pp. 7-24.
  • Arnold Schering: The theory of the musical figures in the 17th and 18th centuries. In: Church Music Yearbook. 21, 1908, pp. 106-114.
  • Arnold Schmitz: Figures, musical-rhetorical. In: Friedrich Blume (Ed.): The music in past and present. Volume 4. Bärenreiter, 1949-1986, pp. 176-183.
  • Brian Vickers: Figures of rhetoric / Figures of music? In: Rhetorica. 2, 1984, pp. 1-44.
  • Blake Wilson et al .: Rhetoric and Music. In: Stanley Sadie (Ed.): The New Grove dictionary of Music and Musicians. Volume 21. 2nd edition. Macmillan, London 2001, pp. 260-275.