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Classical Guitar - Bach Sonata 1 For Solo Violin (Presto)
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Brian Huether

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Bach Sonata 1 For Solo Violin (Presto)
Transcribed for Guitar - Part 4
by Brian Huether


Be sure and check out Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this Classical Guitar lesson.

In the last guitar lesson, we looked at the first 40 or so measures of the second half of the piece. I don't mean half literally since the second 'half' is much longer than the first. In any case, at measure 55, the second half/theme/ begins and last time around we ended at measure 82. My original intent was to finish the series of lessons on the Bach piece over the course of 2 additional lessons. But I think it is time that we move on to new material and so I have finished off the piece with this final lesson, which is quite lengthy in its coverage of bars 83 - 136...

Bach Guitar Tablature

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Above is the tab for measures 83-136. As usual, let me make an important point about not getting caught up in the tab. The way I tabbed it is based on various sheet music arrangements I have come across as well as personal preference. So if certain sections are problematic for you, then experiment with other fingerings. Ok, let me provide some tips:

  1. As before, let notes ring to the maximum extent possible. This will mean choosing fingerings that allow note ringing. The ringing of notes is perhaps the most challenging part of the piece overall. I find that sometimes I am making great progress on the piece (working up to tempo, etc) but then my classical teacher will point out the fact that I need to work on letting notes ring through.
  2. As before, use alternate picking to the maximum extent, as it lends itself better to consistent timing.
  3. Play at an even tempo! Sure, some of the lines in this piece can be played at high speed, but you don't want to be slowing down and speeding up depending on the difficulty of a line. Maintain consistency and work the piece up to tempo. If you try to jump into the piece playing at a quick tempo then it will sound, for lack of a better word, aweful...
  4. Focus on phrasing. There are some key parts in these measures that require attention to phrasing.

    83-85: Similar to measures 55-58, these measures consist of an arpeggio that ascends in a series of triads. In this case we have an F Dom7 arpeggio. There are of course many ways to play this passage. I persoanlly could not come up with a single fingering that allows notes to ring throughout and so at the 2nd 3 note grouping in measure 84 I slide up to the 7th fret with my pinky to finish off the pattern..

    87-89: In beautiful contrast to the ascending triplets over the F Dom7 arpeggio, this passage has you descending in triplets over a F# Dimished triad arpeggio. Be sure to really let those notes ring!

    90-93: Note the recurring pattern in this section. At the beginning of each measure is a minor or major 3rd interval and at the end of each measure is a major 6 or minor 7 interval. For instance, measure 90 starts with the notes A# and G which make up a minor 3rd and the measure ends with an E and a D which make up a minor 7th interval. I find that the piece seems to beg the player to really accent the major 6/minor 7 intervals which make up the end of these measures. Accenting in this way helps build tension that leads nicely to the next passage.

    95-100: Again we have a recuring pattern. This time it has a question answer feel (in my mind anyway!), where measure pairs 95/96, 97/98, and 99/100 serve as question answer pairs. Ideally you want to let notes ring to the maximum extent in this passage, but fingerings that lend themselves to good note ringing don't necessarily lend themselves to playing at higher tempos. As such, my choice of fingerings here is a tradeoff between note ringing and speed. I also like how the choice of fingering minimizes movement. The passage is played mostly in the 3rd position with a couple exceptions.

    105-109: The recurring patterns in this piece are never ending! In these measures you want to try your best to let the first note of each measure ring throughout the measure. In some cases this isn't practical and so the fingerings I chose are once again a tradeoff between note ringing and economy of motion (i.e. limited position shifting).

    113-116: Here we have yet another recurring pattern. While you could essentially play these lines at lower frets and minimize position shifting, in this case we opt for position shifting because it affords us a repeating series of fingerings that are easy to execute. Note how measures 115 and 116 are essentially repeats of the same fingerings in measures 113 and 114. You simply slide down one fret at a time as you go from measure to measure.

    121-126: Like many of the recurring patterns in this piece, I find the pattern in this passage difficult to sum up succinctly in words. Essentially, each measure consists of a repeated note (3rd and 6th note of each measure) which is preceded by a minor or major 3rd interval in the first part of the measure and precded by a minor or major 2nd interval in the second part. These 2nd and 3rd intervals ascend in such a way that they seem to create two counter melodies (I am sure a music theorist will correct me and provide the correct analytical terms...). It wasn't until after I listened to my recording that this melodic movement became really apparent. Anyway, once you work through these measures I think you will find that the pattern will feel natural and logical. I have chosen fingerings that minimize position shifting and keep you firmly planted at the first position.

    129-132: Much like measures 47-50 consist of a pattern of ascending thirds that culminate in the ending of the piece's first half/theme, these measures likewise consist of a series of ascending thirds that serve as a segue to the piece's final end.

If you have persevered through these Bach lessons, then my hat is off to you. Bach's Sonata #1 for Solo Violin (Presto) is one monster of a piece that requires a great deal of patience, resilience, dedication, motivation and passion. Those are certainly traits that will help you on your quest for guitar mastery!

Note: The MIDI contains the entire piece (measures 1-136).


Brian Huether Free Guitar Lessons

Other Lessons by Brian Huether

Ear Training - From the mind to the fretboard
Reinventing Scales - Mixotonic
Spanish flavored guitar
Bach Sonata 1: Part 1
Bach Sonata 1: Part 2
Bach Sonata 1: Part 3
Bach Sonata 1: Part 4
Four Play - Alternate Picking Exercise

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