Minuet In G
Bridget Mermikides presents a great arrangement and transcription of a famous piece attributed to JS Bach (but was it really?).
The parts are singable, memorable and musically balanced; they also work together, outlining a satisfying progression.
For this issue’s classical guitar column, I’ve arranged the popular and well-known Baroque keyboard composition for solo, Minuet in G. We’ve attributed it here (as almost everyone does) to the great composer JS Bach but the credit is apocryphal. There is a strong consensus that the piece was not by Bach, and most probably by his contemporary, the German composer and organist, Christian Petzold. (The ‘Anh’ next to the official BWV (Bach Works Catalogue) number indicates a piece of doubtful authenticity).
The reason for this confusion is that the Minuet In G first appears in the second of two ornately decorated manuscripts that Bach gifted to his wife in the 1720s, collectively referred to as the Notebook (or Notebooks) of Anna Magdalena Bach. The first book contained pieces entirely by Bach, but the 1725 second (and longer) set of manuscripts (often referred to as simply the Anna Magdalena Notebook) contained works by Bach and also by various of his contemporaries.
Anna Magdalena was a professional singer and copyist and this set of works is a wonderful insight into their musical family life with pieces Bach dedicated to her, as well as works he felt were worthy to include alongside them.
The Minuet In G is a wonderful piece for beginning keyboard students, as it is written entirely in two single line voices in the friendly key of G major. This means that for once on our guitars we can play every note of the
An important aspect of technique in classical guitar playing is adopting the correct sitting posture. The guitar is placed on the left thigh (for right handed players), which is raised by placing the foot on a footstool. The left knee should be pointing forwards and the right knee to the side so the guitar rests on the inside of the right thigh. The guitar should be positioned at angle where the neck is pointing slightly upwards, and the right forearm rests on the instrument’s larger bout. This should hold it securely in place and give ease of facility for both hands. original composition, in the original key. Those of you who caught our introduction to Part Writing (GT234) will see all the principles in here. Both parts are individually singable, memorable and musically balanced; but they also work together, perfectly outlining a satisfying harmonic progression. The melody is mainly in the upper voice, but is handed over occasionally (for example in bars 8 and 12) to the bass. Although this is a relatively rudimentary keyboard piece, and one of the easier guitar arrangements of this series, it will take work to keep the melody lyrical, the parts balanced and the tempo sufficiently fluent to give the piece its required lilting waltz feel. Refer to the tab captions to help you achieve this fluency and you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful piece that remains engaging despite it being close to its 300th birthday, and irrespective of who actually composed it!
J S Bach: did he write our minuet or not?