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

Post by ddray » Sat Feb 03, 2018 6:56 pm

CliffK wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:55 pm
Professor Ph. Hii, article on Bach’s own transcriptions:

http://dmc122011.delmar.edu/music/facul ... htran.html
Interesting little snippet from that:

'In a letter to Johann N. Forkel, C.P.E. Bach said of his father: "If I exclude some of his clavier pieces, he composed everything else without instrument, but later tried it out on one." '

Which bears out what some commenters said here about Bach's music being "absolute" or "pure". He apparently thought of the music itself first and not a particular instrument.

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

Post by CliffK » Sat Feb 03, 2018 9:43 pm

Referring to suites for cello solo and the violin sonatas:

“With his desire to produce polyphony at any cost Bach seems to break through the technical limitations of the instrument. The suggested rather than real polyphony on the violin recalls the suggestive methods that Gaultier had used on the lute, only that they appear here raised to infinite power. Bach relied on the hearer to supply the voice-leading that he could only imply on the violin...It is most revealing to compare the various fugues for violin with the organ transcriptions that Bach made at a later time. They demonstrate that the implied polyphony is grounded on strict part writing, fully realized in the transcription....”

Manfred F. Bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era (New York: Norton, 1947), pp. 289-90.


Then, Hopkinson Smith:

https://harvardmagazine.com/2016/05/hop ... instrument
Michael Thames 2010 It Spruce/BR
Rockbridge SJ cedar/mahagony 2007, cutaway, inlay

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

Post by Conall » Sat Feb 03, 2018 10:47 pm

So to summarize:

- some people don't like Bach on guitar (including the OP)
- some don't like Bach on anything
- some love Bach on anything (inc kazoo)
- some prefer Bach on some instruments or "original instruments"
- some people prefer some interpretations over others
- Bach doesn't care what instrument plays his music because he's dead but if he's cursing guitarists from up in heaven, tough, his music is in the public domain so we can do anything we want with it.

Smudger5150
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Re: Can I be the Grinch and say Bach and guitar don't mix...

Post by Smudger5150 » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:11 am

Can I just say that this has been a most entertaining and interesting thread to follow. And surprisingly civilised compared to the heated debates on other threads considering the differences of opinion.

Personally, I do like some Bach pieces on the guitar but no more so than some of the other composers' pieces mentioned. But I've never understood why the Chaconne has such reverence amongst the CG community in that I think it's just 'ok'.

So I guess that relegates me to the leftovers.
"Music washes away the dust of every day life." Art Blakey

"If I don’t practice for a day, I know it. If I don’t practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don’t practice for three days, the public knows it." Louis Armstrong

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

Post by ddray » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:23 am

Smudger5150 wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:11 am
But I've never understood why the Chaconne has such reverence amongst the CG community in that I think it's just 'ok'.
I think it's a glorious composition...on the violin. It just doesn't sound convincing on guitar to me. As we discussed it sounds even worse on piano and I don't even want to think about listening to an orchestration of it.

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

Post by CliffK » Sun Feb 04, 2018 1:50 am

Translation of comment on Chaconne and guitar circa 1930 by French musicologist:

http://cumpiano.tripod.com/Home/Article ... conne.html
Michael Thames 2010 It Spruce/BR
Rockbridge SJ cedar/mahagony 2007, cutaway, inlay

Conall
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Location: Scotland

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

Post by Conall » Sun Feb 04, 2018 7:45 am

Smudger5150 wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:11 am
Can I just say that this has been a most entertaining and interesting thread to follow. And surprisingly civilised compared to the heated debates on other threads considering the differences of opinion.

Personally, I do like some Bach pieces on the guitar but no more so than some of the other composers' pieces mentioned. But I've never understood why the Chaconne has such reverence amongst the CG community in that I think it's just 'ok'.

So I guess that relegates me to the leftovers.
I am enjoying this thread too. I think civility is necessary unless the discussion is to descend into a tiring
/ pointless yah boo shouting "my opinion is great, yours is garbage" affair. That's for Bookface and Twittits. I got tired of those so I'm hoping for better things here. At least (most of the time) this page touches on my main interest rather than narcissistic "selfies" / inane platitudes / boring "personal bests" / what X had for dinner etc etc.

Oh.. don't get me started on the Chaconne....oh no now you've done it!

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

Post by Conall » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:06 am

ddray wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:23 am
Smudger5150 wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:11 am
But I've never understood why the Chaconne has such reverence amongst the CG community in that I think it's just 'ok'.
I think it's a glorious composition...on the violin. It just doesn't sound convincing on guitar to me. As we discussed it sounds even worse on piano and I don't even want to think about listening to an orchestration of it.
The Chaconne has reverence among so many guitarists for reasons already mentioned about Bach's other music:
- many guitarists love Bach's music
- naturally many want to play his music on the instrument they play best
- the Chaconne is acknowledged by musicians of all sorts to be one of his greatest compositions for any solo instrument
- clearly many people like the Chaconne on guitar judging by how (for example) popular it is on YouTube. Interestingly my former teacher's version is one of if not the most watched interpretation (2.4 million views): https://youtu.be/JNEnzNHTkd8

I agree the Chaconne sounds amazing on violin too, especially played by Itzhak Perlman but for different reasons: his melodic tone is incredibly moving & to die for but the guitar has the edge in the arpeggiated and dense chordal sections in my opinion given that they lie so much more naturally on our most chordal of instruments.

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

Post by ddray » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:35 am

Conall wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:06 am
ddray wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:23 am
Smudger5150 wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:11 am
But I've never understood why the Chaconne has such reverence amongst the CG community in that I think it's just 'ok'.
I think it's a glorious composition...on the violin. It just doesn't sound convincing on guitar to me. As we discussed it sounds even worse on piano and I don't even want to think about listening to an orchestration of it.
The Chaconne has reverence among so many guitarists for reasons already mentioned about Bach's other music:
- many guitarists love Bach's music
- naturally many want to play his music on the instrument they play best
- the Chaconne is acknowledged by musicians of all sorts to be one of his greatest compositions for any solo instrument
- clearly many people like the Chaconne on guitar judging by how (for example) popular it is on YouTube. Interestingly my former teacher's version is one of if not the most watched interpretation (2.4 million views): https://youtu.be/JNEnzNHTkd8

I agree the Chaconne sounds amazing on violin too, especially played by Itzhak Perlman but for different reasons: his melodic tone is incredibly moving & to die for but the guitar has the edge in the arpeggiated and dense chordal sections in my opinion given that they lie so much more naturally on our most chordal of instruments.
Which is why I was sure to add the words "to me". If others love performances of the Chaconne on guitar, that's great. I have no qualms about it. To each his own. And I'm not belittling at all the guitar skill required to play it (which I don't have as yet).

By the way someone here on another thread mentioned the album Morimur which came out, I dunno, nearly 20 years ago I guess. I listened to it for the first time recently. I don't really buy the thesis behind it, but I do have to admit it's haunting. Just thought I'd throw that in there. The subject reminded me of it. :D

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

Post by CliffK » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:35 am

Interesting dissertation on transcription of Baroque music using Bach example with consideration of guitar 🤗 :

https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67 ... adc271851/
Michael Thames 2010 It Spruce/BR
Rockbridge SJ cedar/mahagony 2007, cutaway, inlay

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

Post by Conall » Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:56 am

CliffK wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 10:35 am
Interesting dissertation on transcription of Baroque music using Bach example with consideration of guitar 🤗 :

https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67 ... adc271851/
Wow, that looks genuinely interesting & potentially useful, thanks. Have downloaded it for reading later.

CliffK
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Location: Virginia

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

Post by CliffK » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:25 pm

Conall, thx and I hope it will be useful.
Michael Thames 2010 It Spruce/BR
Rockbridge SJ cedar/mahagony 2007, cutaway, inlay

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

Post by Conall » Sun Feb 04, 2018 5:32 pm

CliffK wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:25 pm
Conall, thx and I hope it will be useful.
I have started reading it & I'm enjoying it but I'm a bit worried there may be a rather large spanner in the works if, as some sources suggest, the arrangement that the whole thesis is based on (BWV 964) is in fact of doubtful authenticity. I'm only on page 28 so far but I'm rather surprised the author did not spot or mention or argue for its authenticity (so far) considering that some scholars are not sure the arrangement is actually by Bach himself.

My edition (Dover: "Miscellaneous Keyboard Works" from the Bach-Gesellschaft edition) also uses the word "doubtful" to describe the arrangement's authenticity. Another source casting the same doubtfulness is:

https://www.forsyths.co.uk/music/compos ... 36887.html

I still like the arrangement & I occasionally play it (not very well) on piano. And I guess even if not by Bach himself it is still a very Baroque sounding arrangement probably by a contemporary so using it as a basis for another arrangement for guitar is reasonable. I like Drew Henderson's version who used this process successfully to my ears:

https://youtu.be/6emElQDVqF4

CliffK
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Location: Virginia

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

Post by CliffK » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:17 pm

Conall, point is well taken. Schulenberg noting the issue seems to lean to Bach. Perhaps others here can elucidate as I am not specialized in the field of music history and musicology. The student’s consideration of Bach’s (or “Bachian”?) music transposed for guitar and his focused discussion of transposition for guitar caught my eye. I hope something useful can be gleaned from his effort and that it helps show how Bach and guitar can mix.

Schulenberg:
https://books.google.com/books?id=VaYCK ... ch&f=false

Thx for heads up on Henderson, sounds beautiful.
Michael Thames 2010 It Spruce/BR
Rockbridge SJ cedar/mahagony 2007, cutaway, inlay

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

Post by Conall » Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:36 pm

CliffK wrote:
Sun Feb 04, 2018 8:17 pm
Conall, point is well taken. Schulenberg noting the issue seems to lean to Bach. Perhaps others here can elucidate as I am not specialized in the field of music history and musicology. The student’s consideration of Bach’s (or “Bachian”?) music transposed for guitar and his focused discussion of transposition for guitar caught my eye. I hope something useful can be gleaned from his effort and that it helps show how Bach and guitar can mix.

Schulenberg:
https://books.google.com/books?id=VaYCK ... ch&f=false
I'm not an expert in music history / musicology either but I studied music to degree level, have taught guitar and musical subjects at many levels including a short period at college / university level and have been a player and fan of Bach's music all my life (many decades!).

Schulenberg's reference to BWV 964 looks interesting but it still leaves some room for doubt. Having just played through it again it sounds pretty "Bachian" to me although there's a little chromatic motif that doesn't sound quite typical to me in the fugue (no matter what Sch. thinks)! But I guess it's possible or maybe probable it's by Bach.

But I think any scholarship is welcome and much more preferable to personal, subjective opinions on whether Bach sounds good on guitar or not (whether tongue in cheek or not). Thanks for all the information!

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