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Ain't Bach brilliant! - part 2

Will Fly 28 Mar 16 - 08:02 AM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Mar 16 - 12:13 PM
Will Fly 28 Mar 16 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Mar 16 - 02:50 PM
GUEST,Bandiver (Astray) 28 Mar 16 - 04:04 PM
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Subject: Ain't Bach brilliant! - part 2
From: Will Fly
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 08:02 AM

In this thread:

Ain't Bach brilliant? (JS that is)

I related hearing guitarist Richard Durrant playing the Gavotte No. 1 from Bach's Cello Suite No. 6 in D, on my tenor guitar, and my subsequent dig into the actual music.

Well, Richard has now returned the tenor and, armed with the music, I've written it out for that instrument (his arrangement is far too intricate for me). There are various stages I go through when learning a new, moderately complex like this:

1. Get the musical notation laid out in my computer - I use "Harmony Assistant" to create the score.

2. Get the software to produce tablature in addition to the score - my sight reading is not brilliant and the tab helps with learning the fingering!

3. Go through the piece, section by section, learning the notes for each section.

The Gavotte is in 3 main sections:

Part A repeated, followed by variations on A repeated
Part B repeated, followed by variations on A repeated
Part A again, without repeats

4. Once I've got the notes and fingering for each section in my head, then comes the attempts to play the whole piece without mistakes.

5. Once I get through 4 to the point when I can play it reasonably, then I go through it to check out accents and tone in the piece.

6. Speeding is my greatest problem, so I've also laid down a bass line in Garageband and, with earbuds in my ears, play along to the bass track.

7. Eventually... I'll get to the stage when I can feel comfortable recording/performing it.

I'm about in between stages 4 and 5 at the moment - and I've found the bass track very useful. I'm currently practising the piece for about 6 hours a day - over and over until I start to slip and need a break. I tend to be obsessive about practice, and I'm very lucky that Mrs. F. has got ysed to this routine over the last 50 years!

I'd be interested in how others tackle pieces like this or similar to it.

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Subject: RE: Ain't Bach brilliant! - part 2
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 12:13 PM

I downloaded the sticks and dots from 'Dave's J.S. Bach Page'.

Now this is just my opinion. The melody of Gavotte no. 1 is simple. There are three staves of bass notes, but mostly they are just making chords. Meanwhile, life is short.   Why not print out the melody and use a chord symbol to show which harmony to go for? After all, the precise notes Bach selected may have been determined by what notes the cello bow can reach at the moment, or they may have been duplicates of what he was used to on the organ - an organ playing in a big church.   

Meanwhile, one of the beauties of the guitar is that it's so easy to add harmony using the bass strings, so why not take advantage of that? I'm sure Bach would have done it it himself.

I observe that Bach used discord (and dissonance)in Gavotte 1, but why bother? They irritate me anyway. Oh, I can see the occasional A7 or similar, but a set like D-F#-A-G? Not for me. Try skipping the discords and see if it makes a difference.

I'm thinking of giving Gavotte 1 to my band. They will not tolerate the discords, so that makes it easy. It's one thing to play discords on a single cello in a cathedral. It's another, more painful, thing to hear them in a small living room with 7 musicians in it.
Gavotte 2 has a more interesting bass and I would be more careful with it.

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Subject: RE: Ain't Bach brilliant! - part 2
From: Will Fly
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 01:28 PM

Ah well now, the tenor guitar has the same range as a cello - just an octave higher - so the melody fits neatly on the strings. The melody is actually not that simple - there are some little twists and turns on the strings which require good practice to get them running smoothly.

Added to that, the scale length of the tenor plus the key of D means some big stretches in the nut-2-4-6 fret configuration. I prefer the contrapuntal sound of the single string melody of the tenor line intertwined with a similar single bass line - the two fit together very attractively.

The beauty of the unaccompanied cello suites is that polytonality (chords discordant or otherwise) is implied in the melody, rather than obviously stated. Anyway - thanks for the useful comments, and good luck with it if you give it to your band!

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Subject: RE: Ain't Bach brilliant! - part 2
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 02:50 PM


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Subject: RE: Ain't Bach brilliant! - part 2
From: GUEST,Bandiver (Astray)
Date: 28 Mar 16 - 04:04 PM

Since getting our new smart TV we can now watch YouTube in comfort, which so far has meant rediscovering the delights of Duckman (first class American animation featuring the voices of Jason Alexander & Dweezil Zappa amongst others, but it's a tour-de-force from the always amazing Jason), checking out old Rockenstock films of Hatfield and the North, Matching Mole, Can etc. etc. AND complete continental concert broadcasts by Jordi Savall. There's a diversity of programmes up there from El Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (Mediaeval pilgrim songs) to an utterly mesmerising rendering of J.S.Bach's Musical Offering (in the same general bag as The Art of the Fugue only with slightly different starting melody).

Call it up and play loud - surround sound advised, or a good set of headphones...

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