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  1. #1

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    What are everyone's favorite Bach arrangements for guitar? I've been reading through the Chorales recently (my edition is for piano so I sightread and reduce), but I'd love to check out an edition that's arranged for guitar, but still takes the same care he did with voiceleading.

    Some of my favorites Bach on guitar stuff:

    Two Part Inventions by Barry Galbraith: I love practicing these with a looping pedal. Great for reading, technique, just everything. These are my go-to etudes when I want to get my jazz chops back in the groove.

    Cello Suites by Stanley Yates: These are bar none the best arrangements for classical guitar of any of Bach's music I've ever found. I'm hoping this thread will lead me to more great stuff like this, but Yates did incredible work here.

    Solo Lute Works: Mel Bay. I find these way less interesting and fun than the Yates Cello suites. They are good arrangements and everything, just not as interesting to me.


    I'm particularly interested in the chorales, but curious what other really good editions are out there for Bach's music?

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  3. #2

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    I think any Bach is great - regardless of whether it was transcribed or arranged for guitar or not. I have an old Schott edition of the Bach Violin Partitas/Sonatas and I use them in preference over the guitar arrangements - although I'll admit that the guitar arr. enabled some stuff which was almost impossible to play in the original - in the famous E maj prelude and the Dm Chaconne - I have since adapted them to suit.
    I adore this music to listen to - and I'll keep using it to practice with - but yeah the Violin music is my favourite. I love Rachel Podger's recording of these on Baroque violin - just raw and vital.
    I have some guitar arrangements of the chorales but also do the reduction thing from SATB in piano score which for me is laborious and slow but ultimately rewarding.

  4. #3

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    I learnt Snyder's arrangements of "Jesu, Joy ..." and "Bouree in Emin" way back when. They seemed to capture the spirit of the pieces without being terribly difficult to learn.

  5. #4

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    Michael Lorrimer's Lute Suites and Cello Suites are quite thoughtfully done. His BWV 998 Prelude Fugue and Allegro is really thoughtfully laid out and clearly notated.

    David

  6. #5

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    I have an Editions Orphee book of selected pieces from the Well Tempered Clavier arranged for classical guitar, interesting but difficult!

    Also an edition of 3 of the violin sonatas arranged for guitar by Manuel Barrueco, those are good.

    For the 'solo lute music' I have the Koonce edition which is nicely laid out, with fold-out extended pages to avoid unnecessary page turns.

  7. #6

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    Whatever modern approach to guitar and performance is... I find Segovia's transcription great. They are not only musically thought through but he also had some kind of inner conncetion with tradition taht many modern editors do not have any more.
    He even adds notes sometimes but it's done with such a great understanding of how this music works and feeling the nature of guitar.

    Another point... try originals. I play lutes - so recently I approached some Bach pieces... I use only originals or what is admitted to be originals.

    And while playing I saw that mostly it is quite easily could be accomodated to guitar. In many cases you just have to find a key for transposition and make some octave transposition.

    Note there's still an argument if the so-called Lute suites were written actually for lute (and if so for what kind of lute)... many modern lute players play them with transposition using lutes with different tunings.
    So obviously there's some space interpretation on guitar too.

    Besides BWV996 is usually played on guitar directly from original.

    Cello Suites by Stanley Yates: These are bar none the best arrangements for classical guitar of any of Bach's music I've ever found. I'm hoping this thread will lead me to more great stuff like this, but Yates did incredible work here.
    Try to listen to record of Hopkins Smith - not the early one - but the 2CDs he recorded a few years ago on a very specific instrument German type theorbo (the one that has german d minor tuning uncommon for regular theorbo).
    His arrangements are fantastic but even more.. it's one of the best performance of these suites I ever heard - even among cellists I can compare it only to Casals.
    Give it a try if you like the music.

    Besides it may teach you some nuances and details on guitar while performing this music.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah

    Note there's still an argument if the so-called Lute suites were written actually for lute (and if so for what kind of lute)... many modern lute players play them with transposition using lutes with different tunings.
    So obviously there's some space interpretation on guitar too.

    Besides BWV996 is usually played on guitar directly from original.
    Bach played an instrument called a 'Lautenwerk' - a lute-harpsichord (gut strung to sound more lute-ish)..this is very likely the 'lute' connection for BWV 996 /997/998 rather than the lute itself (very difficult to pull these off well on lute due to baroque lute tuning)..BWV995/1006a obviously from violin/cello sources originally..

    If you want to hear full justice to this music, listen to this:

    Aufs Lautenwerk - Music By Bach / Kim Heindel - Dorian Discovery: DIS-80126 | Buy from ArkivMusic

    By far some of the best Bach playing I've heard - up there with Leonhardt..

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by rcpj
    Bach played an instrument called a 'Lautenwerk' - a lute-harpsichord (gut strung to sound more lute-ish)..this is very likely the 'lute' connection for BWV 996 /997/998 rather than the lute itself (very difficult to pull these off well on lute due to baroque lute tuning)..BWV995/1006a obviously from violin/cello sources originally..

    If you want to hear full justice to this music, listen to this:

    Aufs Lautenwerk - Music By Bach / Kim Heindel - Dorian Discovery: DIS-80126 | Buy from ArkivMusic
    I know that... and this is exactly what I called I arguable)
    I know personally a very good lute player who plays all so-called Bach's 'Lautenwerke' on baroque lute in baroque tuning. And he has quite elaborated explanation why it should be played exactly that way.
    He is sure that Bach knew and understood the phisiology and nature of the instrument.
    He wrote a few articles on the topic.
    Not that I follow it... but just to show that this is still a questionable topic.

    Whereas many others played it with transposition (which already presumes they believe it was not for lute) - I remember exactly Hopkinson Smith played C-minor Prelude in A-minor and Evangelina Mascardi in D-minor - both on baroque lute. It is difficult to play in original key on that instrument - but still some players do.
    And on archlute it is quite playable in original key.

    To be really honest - I do not care for what instrument it was intended and if Bach really knew the lute or not...


    By far some of the best Bach playing I've heard - up there with Leonhardt..
    I'll check this, thank you.

    though unfortunately I do not like Leonhardt... neither as conductor nor as a player)

    So not really sure if comparing with him makes it a recomendation for me))))

  10. #9

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    As mentioned before 3 Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin is great!

    I've tried No.1 in G minor (presto), if you are interested you will find notes
    w/ fingerings) here: BACH Sonata

  11. #10

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    I tried the Yates Cello suites and found I was pretty clunky playing them. They didn't sit well for me at all. That's more about me than the arrangements, I'd like to go back to them in a year or so.

    But I've been loving working on the cello suites in their original key on a spare guitar I have tuned in New Standard Tuning (the Robert Fripp tuning). CGDAEG I think. I use a set of Daddario heavy bottom light tops. The guitar sounds awesome tuned in fifths, everything rings out (kinda like a cello I guess). And they just fall really nicely in the hand. I do feel a little like I'm losing something by not playing in regular tuning because it doesn't really expand my knowledge of the conventional guitar, but there's also a lot of weird shifts relative to anything you'd do in regular guitar, so I feel like it's opening up my hand a bit into filling in some technique gaps. Basically there's only one of any given note in any position, even with some stretching. So you have to stretch a fair amount.

    The other thing I've been working on is the 4th invention, stealing this arrangment:


    from Gilad Hekselman. I want to buy his counterpoint video but don't really need or have time for another thing right now, I told myself if I can play this arrangement I can buy the video. I started copying what he was doing and now I'm just working on my own fingerings. That's in regular old tuning.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by sully75
    I tried the Yates Cello suites and found I was pretty clunky playing them. They didn't sit well for me at all. That's more about me than the arrangements, I'd like to go back to them in a year or so.
    I've been working on the sixth with my 7 string fretless. I hate the liberties he's made, in register transposition, in melodic re-interpretation, in voicings. I feel like the flow has been changed and though it's more guitaristic, it feels like the elegance and beauty of the original work has been violated. Thank goodness there's an original score in the same key. I'm working on that to make a new transcription myself.

    David

  13. #12

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    Irina does it right. I've seen her twice. Nice lady. Great artist.


  14. #13

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    Note there's still an argument if the so-called Lute suites were written actually for lute (and if so for what kind of lute)... many modern lute players play them with transposition using lutes with different tunings.
    So obviously there's some space interpretation on guitar too.

    Have never heard of that debate. Bach was friends with and local to Sylvius Leopold Weiss, perhaps the greatest German lutanist virtuoso. I have read that it is supposed that the difficulty of the Lute suites is due to the fact that Bach wrote the suites with the knowledge of what SLW could play. Also you have to keep in mind that Bach did not sit with an instrument his hand not at a keyboard plucking and writing, he simply sat at a desk with paper and quill and jotted down the the music as he wanted it to be, technical concerns of "playability" did not cross his mind.

  15. #14

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    Perhaps Bach's best know Prelude, BWV 999. This transcription came from The Solo Lute Works of Johann Sebastian Bach edited by Frank Koonce and published by Neil A Kjos Music Company. This collection is an excellent source for building repertoire as in includes all four lute suites and a number of other works. It includes facsimiles of the source material, alternative solutions for difficult passages and the fingering usually is pretty good.

    I struggled with the Parkening transcription (by Frost as I recall) of Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring for a very long time. When I was in Francisco with a little time to kill I stopped in a GSP and found in the rack Herbert Krause's transcription which I found far more accessible.

    I had hoped to post videos of these, but the ambient noise in the living room would not allow it as I have no direct in to the camera for the audio. Both of these were recorded using my DV Mark Little Jazz's XLR out straight into my Tascam digital recorded. The guitar is my American Deluxe Telecaster. The only pedal in the signal chain was my Keeley Compressor Pro.
    Last edited by Alder Statesman; 02-05-2018 at 12:59 AM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02
    Note there's still an argument if the so-called Lute suites were written actually for lute (and if so for what kind of lute)... many modern lute players play them with transposition using lutes with different tunings.
    So obviously there's some space interpretation on guitar too.

    Have never heard of that debate. Bach was friends with and local to Sylvius Leopold Weiss, perhaps the greatest German lutanist virtuoso. I have read that it is supposed that the difficulty of the Lute suites is due to the fact that Bach wrote the suites with the knowledge of what SLW could play. Also you have to keep in mind that Bach did not sit with an instrument his hand not at a keyboard plucking and writing, he simply sat at a desk with paper and quill and jotted down the the music as he wanted it to be, technical concerns of "playability" did not cross his mind.
    There's quite a bit of evidence, the two staff notation, the distinctly dense vertical nature of the voice lead lines and finally the existence of an instrument that could play lute sounds on a harpsichord type construction. I did quite a bit of research on this (at one point when I studied Bach for guitar in school) and I'm quite convinced that Bach's lute suites were in fact written for this theorbenfleugel lute/harpsichord. The third suite is actually a transcription of a previously written cello suite.
    Weiss is an obvious inspiration and anyone who's heard Weiss's suites (30+ plus fantasies and chaconnes) would be moved by their airy lyricism and linear clarity. It's one of the reasons I love Weiss on the guitar more than the Bach suites. Just my taste.
    David




  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Freel
    Man I love Weiss. Wouldn't it have been unbelievable to watch him improvise ? Or be a fly on the wall whilst he and Bach drank coffee and chatted and maybe jammed ?

    And Weiss had a more diverse harmonic pallet than Bach, in some ways for my ear more forward looking and contemporary sounding and direct and less concerned with completing the tonal project.

    Sometimes I gorge on Weiss of an evening, anyone else wants to there is the always soulful Michel Cardin who seems to have made his life's work recording all Weiss suites.

    YES! Robert Barto has recorded an enormous quantity, performed and recorded well on Naxos or one of those labels.
    Franklin Lei too, I believe. I love Bach for many things, lute suites are great I know, but any one of Weiss dance suites of sonatas are pure lyric line uncluttered by the sound of effort. When I was in music school, the study of counterpoint was a challenge for many. I'd immerse myself in the music of Weiss, listening and playing, and the logic and possibility were all accessible to me. Even to this day, playing jazz, a warm up of Weiss, or Bach for that matter, puts my ear into an extremely broad range of melody and counterpoint.

    Honestly, I feel like that confluence of Weiss and Bach, a very marginalized event in this "Three B's" academic framework, was maybe the pinnacle of the Baroque. They were kinda the Lennon and McCartney of the time.

    Weiss is funny. I put him on when anyone is in the room, or anytime anyone can hear it and everyone will always stop and say "What IS this?" and write down the recording. Guitarists especially, stop and say "Where did you FIND this? It's not Bach, I know. Where did you FIND this?"

    David

  18. #17

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    Eugene Dombois was my entry point, listening to Weiss and Bach on the train home from University, all thoughts of the unloved Physics degree I was failing to study for gone and in the back of my mind wondering if I might ever learn to speak this language.

    And funny you should say that about warming up David. This very moment I took a little a break from the little Weissish etude I just worked out to solve the problem of staying strictly to seven notes in his style whilst improvising. I should admit I signally failed to to earlier today where I found under my hands mostly violence being done to his memory.

    What I would really like would be Weiss Scores for guitar, maybe fingered for open D and written a minor third lower to be played with a capo at third fret (my preferred lute sound for guitar) . All I can find are a few ropy transcriptions the three or four famous pieces and some very beautiful but, for me, inefficient volumes of facsimiles of his Cifra.

    It really sounds like he improvised on paper, following his ideas till he got to a problem and then having painted himself into a corner simply flew off in a new direction.

    D.
    Last edited by Freel; 02-05-2018 at 05:22 PM.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Freel
    What I would really like would be Weiss Scores for guitar, maybe fingered for open D and written a minor third lower to be played with a capo at third fret (my preferred lute sound for guitar) . All I can find are a few ropy transcriptions the three or four famous pieces and some very beautiful but, for me, inefficient volumes of facsimiles of his Cifra.
    Please forgive the thread derail. I hope this is a worth while endeavour.

    Bach For Guitar-screen-shot-2018-02-05-4-26-45-pm-jpgBach For Guitar-screen-shot-2018-02-05-4-25-24-pm-jpgBach For Guitar-screen-shot-2018-02-05-4-27-09-pm-jpg

    There's some stuff out there on PDF form. Beautiful music.

    David

    Last edited by TH; 02-05-2018 at 06:36 PM.

  20. #19

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    Thanks so much, loving this. Exactly what the patient ordered. If you have any more like this then please pm me and I will give you my email address and a begging letter.

    In line nine of page one I am surprised by the E natural over the F going to C sharp (cadence C7 FM BM+11 Em7b5 A7 A7/C# Dm). I find I prefer a D, am I being weird ? It made me stops reading. And the B natural in the last line was a little surprising too.



    Thanks so much David.

    D.

  21. #20

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    Please forgive the thread derail. I hope this is a worth while endeavour.

  22. #21

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    Please forgive the thread derail. I hope this is a worth while endeavour.

  23. #22

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    What I would really like would be Weiss Scores for guitar, maybe fingered for open D and written a minor third lower to be played with a capo at third fret (my preferred lute sound for guitar) . All I can find are a few ropy transcriptions the three or four famous pieces and some very beautiful but, for me, inefficient volumes of facsimiles of his Cifra.
    .

    very specific baroque lute tuning and extended basses were used by Weiss very intensively... it makes proper transciption often very difficult

  24. #23

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    I never played a Baroque Lute. The lasting impression I have of the strapless buttonless Renaissance Lute that I was loaned at College was that playing it was like trying to keep hold of a grumpy baby hell bent on escape.

    I suppose there is not much money to be made on transcriptions but the format that Hertz provided is the one that makes my life easiest as a reader and it sure does sound pretty with the third fret capo.

    D.

  25. #24

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    Savage Classical Guitar Transcriptions Sylvius Leopold Weiss Sheet Music & More At Sheet Music Plus

    Seems to be some stuff out there. I know I found a Chaconne a while ago.
    Bach For Guitar-screen-shot-2017-07-15-6-42-13-am-jpgBach For Guitar-screen-shot-2017-07-15-6-42-57-am-jpg


    I seemed to remember something while I worked at a classical guitar store in Philly, but that might be wishful thinking
    David

    Guys, you think we should start another thread, for Weiss related discussions? I feel like this is disrespectful of Johann S.

  26. #25

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    Laurindo Almeida published his guitar transcription of a Weiss lute suite. Don't know whether it is still in print.