Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

The Validity of Transcribing Bach's Lute Music

Careful interpretation of Baroque music often entails making educated guesses about what composers intended. Of course, performance practice research is ongoing and constantly being reevaluated, so this is not easy. Compared to most music from 1900 until today, interpretation of Baroque music is an inexact science. We could compare the performance of Baroque music to jazz: many subtle details were not written down, but understood to be freely, stylistically interpreted.If J. S. Bach were alive today, there are undoubtedly many questions we would ask. As a percussionist, I would love to know which instruments he preferred his “lute” music to be played on. Did this concern him? Did he have a preference? If he did not, can we justify playing his music on other instruments today? Along these lines, would he have approved of his music being played on modern versions of the instruments he was familiar with and on instruments that were not around during his lifetime such as the marimba and the synthesizer?In order to come up with educated guesses to these questions, it is necessary to trace the history of the lute and related instruments during the Baroque era and also to analyze what was happening historically at the time, with Bach himself and with events of the day.During the Baroque period, the lute was considered the “noblest” instrument, played in courts by kings and noblemen, especially during the reign of Louis...

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