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From the Italian cantare (to sing), the cantata is typically a genre in which accompanied arias and/or ensembles alternate with recitative. It arose in the 17c and differs from the Oratorio (with which it sometimes overlaps) by shorter length and smaller chamber-sized performing forces. Church cantatas are often so called to distinguish them from secular cantatas; J. S. Bach's preferred term was Kirchenmusik (church music).

View the Wikipedia article on Cantatas.

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