Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

Biblioteca de la Guitarra y Cuerda Pulsada

J.S. Bach's Suite in G Minor, BWV 995: A Comparison of Manuscripts for Violoncello, Lute and Lute Intabulation as a Model for a Guitar Arrangement of the Suite in D Major BWV 1012

J.S. Bach (1685 – 1750) is celebrated for his exemplary musical compositions, but less known is Bach the inveterate transcriber. He not only transcribed at least nine concertos by Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741), but he also arranged and adapted his own works, recasting them for other instruments. Among Bach's arrangements, are those for the lute, which were originally written for solo violin and cello. These two arrangements form a significant portion of J.S. Bach’s oeuvre for the lute, an instrument Bach would have been familiar with through his encounters with the finest lutenists of the age. Bach's lute arrangements provide valuable insight into the editorial decisions that were made when transcribing from solo strings to the lute, an instrument most similar to the guitar in sonority, structure and technique. This study examines J.S. Bach's process of arranging for the lute by comparing three extant versions of the same work: Bach’s Suite in C Minor BWV 1011 for cello, his Suite in G Minor BWV 995 for lute and an unsigned version in lute tablature dating back to Bach's time in Leipzig (Sammlung Becker. MS. III. 11. 3, housed at the Stadtbibliothek of Leipzig). The three extant versions of the Suite in G Minor form a unique trifecta among Bach's body of works that can be compared to reveal unique features in Bach's lute arrangements. By comparing the three sources, this study will demonstrate that J.S. Bach displayed a propensity towards musical elaboration when arranging from violoncello to the lute. In particular, Bach had a tendency to elaborate the following musical elements: melody, harmony, polyphony and rhythm. This study will show that these elaborations may be applied in a new guitar arrangement of Bach’s Suite in D Major BWV 1012. Finally, this author hopes that this study may be used as a guide or starting point for other arrangers in their attempt to create a stylistically cogent guitar arrangement of Bach’s unaccompanied works for violin or...

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