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Classical Guitar Lessons: Bach: Sarabande BWV 996

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We're gonna have a lesson
today on the Sarabande from the first lute
In, there's another lesson on the
Courante, and for similar reasons,
they're, both of them, are very tricky
It was the, the french.
This is more, very much a french-styled
So Bach was writing and, and
kinda imitating a french baroque french
style of the time period,
which involves a lot of ornamentation and
a lot more complexity of rhythm.
The music is more ornate, than,
than the Italian baroque or even, or the
German baroque music of the time.
So this is a very highly stylized suite
for Bach to write.
And as such it makes movements like the
courante and the sarabande
tricky to navigate or to sort of parse
the, the sentences.
And to break them down so that you
understand the rhythm.
And sarabandes are, are tricky enough a,
as it is because in,
in order to play with a really good, inner
sense of pulse, a nice internalized pulse
that you may play ornaments around, or
maybe it involve a little bit of Robatto.
And I find with this, this is one of the
toughest sarabandes to do that with
because there's just so many notes flying
around and a lot of rhythms.
And also a lot of space where you're not
playing anything.
You have to be careful in those long
spaces of
time not to anticipate your next notes as
a guitarist.
And you have to really feel the beat,
So I recommend that, it's, it's a good
thing to do, actually,
just to take away all these little notes,
these little grace notes that indicate, or
imitation, or the little marks above, the
little squigglies, that, indicate trills.
And, and really try to just play the piece
in its sort of the skeleton of the piece.
In another lesson you'll see a performance
in which
I play the ornaments that are printed.
I use the Frank Koonce edition as a
reference for,
for most of my bach stuff that I play and
So if you're using a score and
need that as reference you'll see what I
mean with the with that editions.
That's usually, that's a very popular
edition for the lot for the lute suites.
But you'll see as I go through there, I'm
gonna just take away the,
all of the ornamentation signs and just
give a bit, again,
a bit of a skeleton of what it is here.
For example, it's very dry.
You know, very, I'm not putting any kind
of melodic inflection into it.
You'll hear in the performance lesson that
not only am I,
trying to do the, the ornaments that are
you'll hear even a little bit of my own
sort of ornamentation
on the on the repeat of that, as you will
in the courante, as well.
I've thrown in some of my own
ornamentation on the repeat of
the first half of the courante as well.
But it's very healthy exercise to play
that way because you don't,
then are not concerned with a lot, so much
of the guitar playing.
Most of the guitar playing things that are
in difficult to execute in a sarabande are
the trills.
So it's a good first step to actually just
play, and
you not even playing all the notes, even
just playing the melody.
And maybe a melody and an occasional bass
Just so you really get to know the
structure around which you're going to
apply a little bit of rubato or, apply
your trills and ornaments and such.
And I practice all these trills and
ornaments separately.
I just make a little laundry list of each
of them and, you know, for example, I'll,
what's, what's a good example here.
Measure 19.
You know, I just break that phrase,
I take that little mini phrase out of the,
out of the piece.
You know, and I, and
I try to decide how I'm gonna time that
knowing and feeling internally that,
that E has to land on the third beat of
the measure.
That's just an example there, and so, I'm
literally, in a lot of cases,
I'm deciding the actual number of, of
revolutions of the trill.
So, [SOUND] if I have this second beat of
measure 19.
And I know that, that E has to come in on
the third beat, well, I'm not gonna do
five cycles of that trill.
[LAUGH] Because I'm likely not to get them
done in time for the E to come in.
[SOUND] one cycle.
One A-I-M-P of the cross string trill
[SOUND] which by the way,
we'll cover trills in another lesson on
That's one cycle of A-I-M-P.
It's not quite long enough.
Sort of the opposite problem.
It sounds okay.
But I decided, you know, when I first
learned the piece.
And when I was working it up that two
cycles would be
and then, and give me enough time to get
that E in which is a printed note on the
third beat.
So there you have it, that's the real,
that's the the challenges that
that we are faced with when playing the
And it makes it just so much more
enjoyable because then you can really just
feel the music, you practice all the
trills and everything separately, and,
and you have your time and basically when
I'm performing this piece, I'm just,
you know, feeling the time in the, in the
long three beats per measure and
it can become absolutely spiritual
experience to,
to perform a great, great work like this,
so enjoy.