Bach

Min­uet In G

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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

Sit­ting Pos­ture

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?

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