Bourrée in E minor by J.S. Bach: Classical Guitar Arrangement in Standard Notation and Tablature

Bach - Bourree in E minor - guitar tab and standard Notation
Bach - Bourree in E minor - guitar tab and standard Notation

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 seasoned performers alike. It's not a beginners' piece but is around intermediate level of difficulty. So if you're a guitarist who is 'handy' with your picking-hand fingers, and appreciate Baroque period music composed by a master of the craft, this is for you.

It's not an easy classical guitar piece as it moves up the fretboard quite a bit and there's no shortage of sharps to deal with if you're reading the notation rather than the tab. There are no difficult chord shapes, but there may be lots of unfamiliar shapes, and even a couple of barred chord shapes.

You can see the score of Bourrée in E minor, line by line in the video capsule and hear an audio demo of the MIDI file generated by the score. View it in full screen mode and at HD playback quality if possible.

If you prefer to see all of the score - it's there below the video capsule, too. The HubPages Gallery feature lets you see each line large and clear. Just click on the "see all photos" link that appears when you cursor over any pic.

Download Bourrée in E Minor PDF file

Click to open and download Bourrée in E Minor as a PDF file for offline viewing and printing.

Bourrée in E Minor: Learners' Notes

The main feature of Bourrée in E Minor is counterpoint: Interdependent melodic lines of music combining harmonically. That was the hallmark of music of the Baroque period. It's a period that is synonymous with Bach - an undisputed and unsurpassed master of the technique of counterpoint. This piece is only in two parts, bass and melody, and is simple compared to some of Bach's highly complex multi-voice compositions such as his fugues.

Form

Typical of the period, the form of Bourrée in E minor is 'two part' or 'binary' form. The first section starts in the home key of E minor, and towards the end of the first section, it modulates (changes key) to the relative major key of G and then repeats the first section. The second section starts off in the new key of G major and gradually works its way back through a series mini-modulations to more distant keys and finally to the home key of E minor. Then it repeats that second section to finish the piece.

Metre and rhythm

A bourrée is a dance originating in France, so the main rhythmic figure (short-short-long) imitate the dance movements. Emphasise beats 1 & 3 throughout the piece.

Fingering and Hand Positions

Fretting-hand fingering is shown in the standard notation staffs where it might be helpful. There are many fingering options you could use so choose any that suit your hand better. I haven't included picking hand suggestions. Use whatever feels natural - thumb (p) for bass notes and alternating i, m & a fingers for upper notes. If you're not too familiar with classical guitar technique, see the chart explaining how the fingers are labeled in classical guitar music. P-i-m-a is the equivalent of T-I-M-R in fingerstyle guitar, but only in English speaking countries. p-i-m-a is Spanish but universally known throughout the classical guitar world.

The Roman numerals tell you the fretboard position to be in for the required notes where you need barre chords, but even where there are no barred chords needed, you're hand positions are usually somewhere above the nut position.


Chords
Chord tones
E minor
E G B
B major
B D F#
G major (G7)
G B D (F)
C major
C E G
A minor
A C E
D major (D7)
D F# A (C)
G# diminished
G# B D
A major (A7)
A C# E (G)
A# diminished
A# C# E
D minor
D F A
G augmented
G B D#

Bourrée in E minor - chords

As Bourée in E minor is in two parts consisting of upper melody and bass melody, the chords are mostly implied rather than played in full. See the chart for a list of the chords used. Some chords can be interpreted in different ways. For example, A# diminished (A C# E) can be considered the same as F#7 (F# A# C# E) but without the root note, F#, as it's doing exactly the same job as F#7 would do in that context, which is to resolve to the home chord.

The principal chords are the tonic, dominant and subdominant chords of the two main keys, E minor and G major:
Note* The tonic chord is the home chord built on the first note of the scale, the dominant leads home; it's the chord built on the 5th scale note and the subdominant, which is the chord built on the 4th scale note usually leads to the dominant chord.

The key of E minor's principal chords are E minor (tonic) and B major (dominant) and A minor (subdominant).

The key of G major's principal chords are G major (tonic), D major (dominant) and C major subdominant).

Other chords are there for the purpose of briefly resolving to different keys and to provide a more colourful tonal landscape within the longer second section of the bourrée. It's a longer section because it takes the scenic route home to E minor, the principal key of the whole composition.

J.S. Bach

Born in Eisenach, Germany in 1685, Johann Sebastian Bach is as famous as its possible to get in the classical music world. As one of the greatest composers of all time, his music is played at classical venues worldwide. Many of his works are transcribed for guitar and you can check out his famous Minuet in G in another of my hubs from the link below. You can read more about J.S., Bach on Wikipedia.

More classical / fingerstyle guitar pieces to try.

Here are some more pieces to try. They're all easier than Bourrée in E minor

Minuet in G - J.S. Bach

Ye Banks and Braes - traditional Scottish

Waltz in G - F. carulli

Credits

Bourrée in E minor is composed by J.S. Bach (1685-1750) and is in the Public Domain

The score, audio track and images are by chasmac and produced on Finale, Goldwave and Photoshop.

© 2014 chasmac

More by this Author


Comments

No comments yet.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working