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A cantata (literally "sung", derived from the Italian word "cantare") is a vocal composition (solo or chorale) with an instrumental accompaniment, typically in several movements.

The Cantata originated from the single-voice madrigals of the 17th century, and gradually evolved into the mini-oratorio of the 19th century. Most cantatas of the 18th and 19th centuries were religious in nature, with a few being secular in nature.

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The Lutheran Church was one of the greatest consumers of cantatas, necessitating the composition of large numbers of them for each church service of the year (Bach wrote most of his cantatas for such church services). The nobility and other people of great power also commissioned cantatas to be composed for special events, most frequently birthdays.

Cantatas can be found today, either modernized or conforming to Classical Music standards, still referencing religion or secular, in original soundtracks. Or provide inspiration for modern musicians.

Compare with the Oratorio, a string of cantatas that usually present an identifiable plot and characters. Classical cantatas are not known for this feature, though more modern renditions might include such elements.

Contrast with A Cappella, sung but no instrumental accompaniment.

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See also Opera, much lengthier than both the Oratorio and the Cantata and meant to be performed on stage, with costumes and all; One-Woman Wail; and Ominous Latin Chanting. For that matter, ballads are vocal compositions in verse and were originally written to accompany dances.

The term cantata can be found in the names of fictional works and characters, so make sure not to confuse them with the actual musical pieces.


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Examples:

Anime & Manga


Films - Live-Action


Literature


Music

  • Wendy Carlos's album Switched-On Bach can be described as "Bach meets the synthesizer". It features a pair of Bach's cantatas, namely:
    • "Sinfonia to Cantata No. 29".
    • "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring", from "Cantata No. 147.


Theater


Video Games


Western Animation


Fictional works and characters named after the term Cantata:


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