Bach BWV1007 : Cello Suite 1, Prelude; arranged for Guitar
A project started in the pandemic, where I arranged many Bach preludes and fugues for guitar with an emphasis on maximum baroque cowboyness.
Now, this is obviously the most cliched thing to do. Start a pandemic project and then never finish it. But I did finish it! I finished it in 2021, and I’m publishing it in 2022. So, I’m not that late. I’m just a little late. I have a whole bunch of them lined up, and will publish them as I finish engraving them.
That Prelude, not again
Now, BWV1007 is obviously so goddamn ubiquitous. It’s that song. There are a thousand arrangements out there. Why another one?
On the cello, it is perfect, exploring all the sonorous parts of the cello, and taking advantage of basic cello technique - like string crossing and some double stops. Most of the arrangements I found for guitar were pitched in the key of D. And I find this key on the guitar too sweet and flowery. On the cello, it has a sombre quality that rises and diminishes from a meditation into a full celebration. I wanted to capture these ideas in the arrangement.
Let’s hear it
Here I am playing it:
The key and tuning
So we already have some definitive versions for guitar arranged in D Major. My impressions on these arrangements:
- The forms sit under the fingers well.
- The fingering is easy to remember.
- The open strings are used to great effect.
- The key is too “sweet” on guitar.
- The mood doesnt match the cello version.
The original sits in the key of G on the cello. It allows the cellist to explore the range of the open instrument and is mostly in first position.
I wanted to capture the same mood, but in a key that is more suited to the guitar. I also wanted to use the open strings to great effect, and to use the guitar’s ability to play in first position to great effect. So i started moving the key around - and I found it lovely in A. Kind of captured the initial sombre moody bits of it and the slow build up to the final cowboy like celebrations at the end.
I then moved to the tuning, found that if i simply went to a lute tuning and dropped the low E string a tone, it again just fit under my fingers.
So there you have it - it is in the Key of A for maximum yeehaw and in lute tuning for maximum baroque.
Baroque yeehaws! That’s the pull.
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