Can I be the Grinch and say Bach and guitar don't mix...

Talk about things that are not necessarily related to music or the guitar.
CliffK
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Re: Can I be the Grinch and say Bach and guitar don't mix...

Post by CliffK » Sun Feb 11, 2018 9:27 pm

Well, musicologists have different views on the origin on plucked string instruments and their relation to the guitar. Here is an interesting overview:

http://www.guyguitars.com/eng/handbook/ ... story.html

The lute may come from the oud but the guitar is often placed differently. Of course, lute and guitar are different instruments and as all instruments have idiomatic virtues and limitations.


Anent the lute:
“The quickly fading sound of the lute did not lend itself to polyphonic voice-leading and called for specific techniques that compensated for the technical limitations of the instrument. The ‘broken style’ of lute music, a most ingenious and consistent application of such a technique, may be called the glorification of the simplest lute figure: the arpeggio....” Bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era, op.cit.,p. 165. Much ornament, etc. to compensate.

The perception of “Bright” can relate to how the guitar is made, strings, technique, A:440, etc. Today in Baroque guitar performance A:415 is often used and I would think that is also the case with the lute thus less bright perception.

Many great musicians have shown that good taste, discernment, and creativity can indicate Bach or Bachian pieces appropriate for transcribing and arranging for the modern classical guitar. We can consider Karl Scheit or Ragossnig, for example.

Although this thread is on Bach, there is a vast array of untapped Baroque music by other composers out there.
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ddray
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Re: Can I be the Grinch and say Bach and guitar don't mix...

Post by ddray » Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:52 am

Peter Lovett wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:00 am
MessyTendon wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:08 am
It's Christmas...I'm ill with nagging abdominal pains. It got me thinking to go listen to some guitar works on youtube. Seems like Bach is the show piece, you must play if you earn your classical wings.

Well as the Grinch, I'm here to take your Bach...:)

I just feel like Bach music needs to have weight to it. The dainty shrill pitch of those god awful Pro Arte strings, is no match for what Bach should sound like...

Hell a harpsichord...now that'll do nice, or a pipe organ, anything but a little squealing six string guitar box.

No Bach for this sick old Grinch.
Well you can be a Grinch and say it but I completely disagree with you and go further and say that Bach in transcription on the guitar sounds better than what it was originally written for. There!
I'm sorry to say it, but I think I'm beginning to agree with the OP as far as the cello suites are concerned. The other night I was listening to the Pierre Fournier recording of the 6th cello suite. I don't think I will ever attempt to play any portions of the cello suites on guitar again. There's just no comparison. The guitar simply doesn't have the power and sustain to do that music justice. In my opinion. :D
Bei einer andächtigen Musik ist allezeit Gott mit seiner Gnaden Gegenwart.
-- J. S. Bach

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Peter Lovett
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Re: Can I be the Grinch and say Bach and guitar don't mix...

Post by Peter Lovett » Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:17 am

ddray wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 2:52 am
Peter Lovett wrote:
Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:00 am
MessyTendon wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:08 am
It's Christmas...I'm ill with nagging abdominal pains. It got me thinking to go listen to some guitar works on youtube. Seems like Bach is the show piece, you must play if you earn your classical wings.

Well as the Grinch, I'm here to take your Bach...:)

I just feel like Bach music needs to have weight to it. The dainty shrill pitch of those god awful Pro Arte strings, is no match for what Bach should sound like...

Hell a harpsichord...now that'll do nice, or a pipe organ, anything but a little squealing six string guitar box.

No Bach for this sick old Grinch.
Well you can be a Grinch and say it but I completely disagree with you and go further and say that Bach in transcription on the guitar sounds better than what it was originally written for. There!
I'm sorry to say it, but I think I'm beginning to agree with the OP as far as the cello suites are concerned. The other night I was listening to the Pierre Fournier recording of the 6th cello suite. I don't think I will ever attempt to play any portions of the cello suites on guitar again. There's just no comparison. The guitar simply doesn't have the power and sustain to do that music justice. In my opinion. :D
Ah, there you go. However, perhaps I can suggest a listening to the recent releases of Slava Grigoryan's 2 volume CD of Bach Cello Suites which he performs on a baritone guitar in the original keys. They are put out by ABC Classics. I think they are rather lovely.

If you don't know Slava Grigoryan, he and his brother Leonard are among Australia's leading home based guitarists and perform together and individually. I believe both but especially Slava has performed in the USA.
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ddray
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Re: Can I be the Grinch and say Bach and guitar don't mix...

Post by ddray » Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:10 pm

Peter Lovett wrote:
Tue Mar 27, 2018 8:17 am

Ah, there you go. However, perhaps I can suggest a listening to the recent releases of Slava Grigoryan's 2 volume CD of Bach Cello Suites which he performs on a baritone guitar in the original keys. They are put out by ABC Classics. I think they are rather lovely.

If you don't know Slava Grigoryan, he and his brother Leonard are among Australia's leading home based guitarists and perform together and individually. I believe both but especially Slava has performed in the USA.
No, I hadn't heard of them but I'll look for their recordings when I have some quiet time here. Thanks for the information.
Bei einer andächtigen Musik ist allezeit Gott mit seiner Gnaden Gegenwart.
-- J. S. Bach

Conall
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Re: Can I be the Grinch and say Bach and guitar don't mix...

Post by Conall » Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:40 am

I have Slava's 1st volume of his Bach cello suites on baritone guitar.

My personal conclusions about Slava's recording are:

- he plays them very well, as you would expect given his ability & standing,
- using the baritone is an interesting approach allowing him to play at original pitches & keys. The original low tessitura might be one of the attractions of playing the suites as written.

However:
- just as with any variation of the guitar a baritone will never sound like the cello or be as expressive melodically simply because we don't have the bowed string's ability to sustain & radically alter a note while playing it,
- Slava's use of ornamentation is too cautious in my opinion. Perhaps it is better to play the score with little or no ornamentation than filling it with "inauthentic" (as far as we can tell) decorations but a little more variation on the repeats of sections & a few more trills at cadences should help to make his interpretations more engaging.
- playing in the original keys & pitches can be achieved on an extended range guitar without altering the sound quality of the normal guitar overmuch. Slava's baritone at times sounds somewhat harsh to me. My preference is to use an 8 string guitar (8=C, 7=D) which allows me the same ability to play the cello suites at original pitch. I'm not so keen on the Brahms guitar with it's rather metallic sounding high 1st string.

Other points about the cello suites on guitar (any variation):

- transposing the keys up a fifth or 6th as most 6 string guitarists do brings its own problems: if simply transposed with no added harmonies or basslines the suites can sound thin given the less sonorous resonance of higher pitches; if re-arranged with added voice(s) it has to be done convincingly. Personally I believe the most successful of these arrangements are by composers such as John W. Duarte or Andreas von Wangenheim but I've come across some (in my opinion) very poor arrangements with odd bass notes (in both senses of "odd") - including a very well known book of arrangements.
- those of us who love Bach's music understandably want to play it on our instrument despite the guitar's shortcomings and many listeners like Bach on guitar as much or more than on other instruments,
- the guitar is more capable (than the cello) of the implied counterpoint in these pieces as well as allowing "clean" rendition of the chords (i.e. not awkwardly broken like on the cello).

ddray
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Re: Can I be the Grinch and say Bach and guitar don't mix...

Post by ddray » Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:22 am

Conall wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:40 am
....

- those of us who love Bach's music understandably want to play it on our instrument despite the guitar's shortcomings and many listeners like Bach on guitar as much or more than on other instruments,
- the guitar is more capable (than the cello) of the implied counterpoint in these pieces as well as allowing "clean" rendition of the chords (i.e. not awkwardly broken like on the cello).
I have no argument at all with the first point I quoted here. On the second I'm not so sure that the guitar is more capable of implied counterpoint. I think Bach used the sonority of the cello in helping to create the "illusion" of polyphony on a monophonic instrument. My favorite recordings of those suites are Fournier's, as I mentioned. In listening to the 5th suite prelude, it does sound eerily at times as if it's a polyphonic instrument playing complex interweaving lines, especially in the second section of the French overture structure. I don't quite get that same feeling in listening to BWV 995 on the guitar. And those arpeggiated chords on a cello just sound more powerful to me. And to me there's just no way a guitar can match the cello's sonority in the 6th suite Allemande and Sarabande. A subjective matter of taste, no doubt. Having said that, I do think that guitar transcriptions of the 4th suite prelude hold their own against the original. That particular prelude sounds a little "foreign" on the cello and more like a keyboard piece.
Bei einer andächtigen Musik ist allezeit Gott mit seiner Gnaden Gegenwart.
-- J. S. Bach

Conall
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Re: Can I be the Grinch and say Bach and guitar don't mix...

Post by Conall » Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:53 am

ddray wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 9:22 am
Conall wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 8:40 am
....

- those of us who love Bach's music understandably want to play it on our instrument despite the guitar's shortcomings and many listeners like Bach on guitar as much or more than on other instruments,
- the guitar is more capable (than the cello) of the implied counterpoint in these pieces as well as allowing "clean" rendition of the chords (i.e. not awkwardly broken like on the cello).
I have no argument at all with the first point I quoted here. On the second I'm not so sure that the guitar is more capable of implied counterpoint. I think Bach used the sonority of the cello in helping to create the "illusion" of polyphony on a monophonic instrument. My favorite recordings of those suites are Fournier's, as I mentioned. In listening to the 5th suite prelude, it does sound eerily at times as if it's a polyphonic instrument playing complex interweaving lines, especially in the second section of the French overture structure. I don't quite get that same feeling in listening to BWV 995 on the guitar. And those arpeggiated chords on a cello just sound more powerful to me. And to me there's just no way a guitar can match the cello's sonority in the 6th suite Allemande and Sarabande. A subjective matter of taste, no doubt. Having said that, I do think that guitar transcriptions of the 4th suite prelude hold their own against the original. That particular prelude sounds a little "foreign" on the cello and more like a keyboard piece.
Yes, the 4th E flat prelude, when played in a more guitar friendly key certainly has that chordal nature that suits the guitar so well. But the same could be said about the famous 1st prelude since the style is similarly arpeggiated. The chordal parts of the 3rd prelude are very effective on the guitar too.
And of course the 6th suite was apparently not intended for the 4 string cello but a 5 string instrument. The D major key, the open string vs fretted note figures in the prelude and the very guitaristic chordal & contrapuntal feel of the later movements of that suite all work very well on guitar with 6=D.

I have Yo-yo Ma's & Casal's cello versions & like both but they never put me off playing or listening to the guitar & lute versions. I mostly prefer Bach's keyboard concertos as the re-constructed violin versions (the keyboard versions are thought to be Bach's own later adaptations from the original violin scores as I'm sure you know). But I still listen to the keyboard concertos on piano and harpsichord when I feel like a change!

ddray
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Re: Can I be the Grinch and say Bach and guitar don't mix...

Post by ddray » Thu Mar 29, 2018 1:50 pm

Conall wrote:
Thu Mar 29, 2018 11:53 am

Yes, the 4th E flat prelude, when played in a more guitar friendly key certainly has that chordal nature that suits the guitar so well. But the same could be said about the famous 1st prelude since the style is similarly arpeggiated. The chordal parts of the 3rd prelude are very effective on the guitar too.
And of course the 6th suite was apparently not intended for the 4 string cello but a 5 string instrument. The D major key, the open string vs fretted note figures in the prelude and the very guitaristic chordal & contrapuntal feel of the later movements of that suite all work very well on guitar with 6=D.
...
Well yeah, come to think of it the first suite can sound very nice on guitar (I've gotten as far as the sarabande lol...) IF the transcription is on the "spare" side imo. I think it's the more richly-textured final 3 suites that induce despair lol...I know that Bach himself transcribed the 5th into BWV 995 -- lute or Lautenwerck, it still belongs to the guitar, heh -- but it seems to me to lose some of its "magic" as much of the counterpoint in the transcription is more explicit than implied.

But, to each his own. :D
Bei einer andächtigen Musik ist allezeit Gott mit seiner Gnaden Gegenwart.
-- J. S. Bach

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