For many classical-guitar students, tackling the “Bourrée in E minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach (–) is a rite of passage from playing. Bourrée in E minor by J.S. Bach from his Lute Suite in E minor, transcribed for classical guitar, is a popular piece among guitar students and. Classical Guitar Technique Bourrée (J.S. Bach) Measures sung in two voices. It sounds good played as two voices on the guitar as well: Watch.
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This article may be reprinted, but please be considerate and give credit to Douglas Niedt. The earliest polyphonic and contrapuntal music was mostly performed by singers. Therefore, when talking bbach counterpoint, we speak about a piece or passage being written in 2, 3, or 4 “voices” even if it is performed by an instrument. Instead of saying “voices”, sometimes we also casually refer to them as “parts”.
For example, a two-voice passage would be two parts upper voice and lower voice. The two parts could be referred to as melody-bass, voice one-voice two, upper part-lower part, or soprano voice-bass voice. If it is three voices, one could name them the upper voice-middle voice-lower voice, voice one-voice two-voice three, upper part-middle part-lower part, soprano-alto-bass, or soprano-tenor-bass.
If it is 4 voices, they are usually referred to as soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. But, they could also be called voice 1-voice 2-voice 3-voice 4. Again, these terms can be applied to instrumental or choral music. In choral music, a voice can be sung by one person or many.
The notes belonging to the upper voice have their note-stems pointing upward. The notes belonging to the lower voice have their note-stems pointing downward.
Here is the phrase beginning with the upbeat of measure 16 to measure Now, imagine that the piece is being sung by two ladies and two gentlemen. The ladies are singing the upper voice and the gentlemen are singing the lower voice.
The ladies sing the red notes and the gentlemen sing the blue notes:.
The final phrase the last four measures beginning on the 4th beat of measure 20 sounds very clunky and unmusical if played on the guitar as two voices:. Most guitarists finger the final phrase for ease of playing with little thought given to what is happening in the voices. They don’t sound very good. At the final phrase, Mr. Bream and I believe each of the two voices goes divisi. That means the ladies split up and sing two different parts and the gentlemen also split up into two parts.
Notice the sustained quarter-notes crochets in the divisi soprano voice and the sustained half-notes minims in the divisi bass voice:.
This results in a glorious four-voice texture for the climax of the piece and then resolves back to two voices at the end:. Notice that the bass notes are notated as eighth-notes quavers and quarter-notes crochets. So, where are the sustained quarter-notes crochets in the soprano?
And where are the sustained half-notes minims in the bass?
The answer is, in order to produce the four voices, you must hold the notes as follows. Otherwise, you will not hear four voices.
His fingering results in the bass line sounding as quarter notes crochets followed by quarter crotchet rests instead of half-notes minims as mine does, but the soprano maintains the sustained quarter-note crochets line. Again, the notes in the soprano and bass voices are notated as quarter-notes fuitar and eighth-notes quavers.
As with my fingering, you must hold the notes as follows. Otherwise, you will not hear four voices:.
Douglas Niedt’s Fabulous Fingerings. A Little Background The earliest polyphonic and contrapuntal music was mostly performed by singers.
The ladies sing the red notes and the gentlemen sing the blue notes: You can clearly hear the two distinct parts. Bach Measures sung in two voices. Bach Final phrase sung in two voices. Bach Final phrase sung in four voices.