This is a public version of the members-only Classical Guitar with Jason Vieaux, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Classical Guitar with Jason Vieaux.
Join Now

Basic Classical Guitar
Classical Guitar Reference Topics
Intermediate Classical Guitar
Advanced Classical Guitar
Special Guests
30 Day Challenge
«Prev of Next»

Classical Guitar Lessons: Counterpoint

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials Quizzes
information below Close
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +

+Basic Classical Guitar

+Intermediate Classical Guitar

+Advanced Classical Guitar

Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   
Classical Guitar

This video lesson is available only to members of
Classical Guitar with Jason Vieaux.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Classical Guitar with Jason Vieaux. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Classical Guitar Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
This lesson will
be on Counterpoint.
How to execute counterpoint, how to craft
how to chose fingerings wisely for the
clarity of your counterpoint.
And what better way to to have this lesson
than with one of Bach's lute fugues.
The fugue was really in, in the Baroque
era, the ultimate expression,
the ultimate vehicle for a composer's
mastery of counterpoint.
And so we'll use the 998 Fugue.
Very popular piece with guitarists and
extremely difficult, to, to do this.
And I'm just gonna kinda walk you through
the a section.
And then just some of my fingering
And just some of the tricks with the right
hand, and left hand it involves
a lot of very advanced level right and
left hand damping in order to make the
counterpoint clear.
So I'm just gonna go through.
I've play, I've performed this piece a lot
so, actually what we'll be doing in,
in this lesson is you'll be watching me go
through, and
then kind of stop at certain points.
And show you what I'm doing to, to get
the, those,
some of these lines to come out really
So here we go, we'll just go from the
Of course, a fugue has a subject.
And in this case,
this is the this fugue's subject is eighth
And you wanna try to phrase with a little
bit, a very subtle direction toward the e,
the fourth note of the subject.
And then gently, very subtly back away
from the E or, or
hair pin down at the end of the subject.
You don't wanna make a big deal, a huge
gesture or
phrase with it because then it'll be
extremely difficult to carry that gesture
through with every time the subject is
presented in,
in other permutations and other, other,
subject entrances.
So, just a nice, light phrase here
oh, and
make sure you feel your first speed,
because the, the first beat of
the piece the first note of the piece, if
you will, is actually a rest.
So, one.
Now I'm just taking you through measures
three and four, where the subject now
[SOUND] enters in alto range, [SOUND] if
you will, on the guitar.
[SOUND] Sort of the second line, the line
underneath the top line.
And again, just me playing that for
you, that's something that you should do
While you're, while you're practicing,
just just play that subject alone, so
you can hear what it sounds like.
With fugues, you know, go ahead and
play it with your fingering, the left hand
And try to create really nice, clear
And then when you add that, that other
line try to maintain that,
that that clarity, and that level,
the standard that you set when you were
playing alone, that line alone.
Like that.
Now just some left hand damping things
that I'm doing here.
I'll measure three.
For example, since I know I have to have
a bar, a half, a sort of three string
bar on fret two at the first note of
measure four.
I can combine that move [SOUND] with this,
the fourth beat of measure three [SOUND]
when I, when I put down my,
when I put down the D, the last note of
measure three.
[SOUND] I can gently set down the bar, and
then that [SOUND] bar knocks [SOUND] out
the first string, thereby creating a
[SOUND] A more melodic passage between the
E [SOUND] and the D,
[SOUND] because the E, and the D are part
of the same line.
So what you don't want ideally, [SOUND],
is to hear those two notes ringing
You want to damp the E somehow at the
moment that you play the D,
and so putting that bar down early, is a
nice way to do it,
so that's an example of a left hand damp.
That's a nice looping kind of
practice technique to get used to
the feel of doing that, going on.
here's a nice right hand damp that I use.
[SOUND] The last two stem up notes of
measure four is B [SOUND] and E.
[SOUND] And even though there's a leap of
a, of a perfect fourth there, they are,
they belong to the same melodic line.
So you want to somehow [SOUND] knock out
the B at
the moment that you play the open E.
There's two ways, well, there's three ways
to do that actually.
You can, [SOUND] you can play the E with
the [SOUND] open, sorry,
you can play the open E with your a finger
of the right hand.
[SOUND] And then, damp the open B with
your M finger.
You can do what I'm doing, which is,
[SOUND] just play a gentle rest stroke on
E and the rest stroke, of course, the act
of the rest stroke will knock out the B.
Or you can just refinger the E on a closed
[SOUND] I'll do the same string that the B
is on, and that of course,
will naturally, [SOUND] put that line in
melodic style.
So I'm going on.
Be sure in the second and
the third beat of measure five.
[SOUND] The F sharp going to the C.
You have to walk that, walk the F sharp to
the C.
Do not leave them ringing over each other,
they're part of the same line.
And so on,
and so forth.
Every measure virtually has some kind of
example of that that you can,
that you can look for.
It seems, I, eh, it may seem to very, very
meticulous but
the end result is is is a maximum kind of
clarity between these voices.
It's, because of that meticulously,
and that practicing even
between two notes to get it,
just the feel just right.
And using your ear to verify the results.
That really over time can get the, can
create the sensation for
the listener that they're almost listening
to two players playing at the same time,
rather than just one.
And that's kind of a, that's a big goal of
I want that to be the, the sound effect
that happens.
That it's not just mere, not merely one
The third subject entrance,
which now creates a third line in the
fugue, going on here.
Right there,
so, da dee da da
dee da da da.
Subject now happening in, what we can
think of as a tenor range of the guitar.
[SOUND] Again, playing the,
isolating that line alone
is a nice way to hear a line on its own.
And then you re-insert into the texture
try to make it sound that give it that
kind of quality of sound.
If you're
feeling brave.
Try to hold on to that bass B as you go up
for the high B in the soprano.
That's a very, very hard move.
And you have to have some long fingers for
Don't feel that, if you, if you can't
reach it, it's,
it's not absolutely necessary to do it.
You can pick up the hand.
So like.
do try to do something very expressive or
make a moment out of it, so that,
that our attention is taken away from the
fact that you let go of the B.
Something like that like a really nice
soprano B with some vibrato on it.
Some little tricks of the trade there.
[SOUND] so
I wanna share with you a really great
practice technique that Jonathan Leathwood
the great English guitarist who lives in,
I believe he lives in Denver.
[SOUND] showed showed me and my students
when he came for
Master Class at the Clear Institute of
Music years ago.
Leathwood recommended this way of actually
singing one
line while playing the other two lines.
So, I'll, I can demonstrate that.
I can sing the base line that I just
played with the three voice texture.
Da, da, da,
da, da, da, da, da.
So what I was doing was singing the low
line, not playing it in my left hand.
And then playing the, the upper two lines,
just with whatever fingerings that I, I
wanted to or had available.
That's a, a very difficult thing to do at
It's, it kind of feels like, you know,
the, the first time you ever tried to rub
your head and pat your tummy and then
reverse them.
It's a, it's a real brain splitter.
But when you're able to do that,
your ear, it sharpens your ear to an
incredibly high level.
Because of that fact that you're having to
match pitch with one voice
while playing the other two, it makes it
actually much easier to hear that voice
that you sung when you re-insert it,
re-insert it back into the texture.
So, that's a lesson on, those are various
techniques, practice techniques and
damping, left-hand damping, right-hand
things that you can do to make your fugue
counterpoint come out very clearly.
Thank you.