Solo Cello Suites of Bach transcribed for Guitar

Rick Nankivell

This site is dedicated to providing transcribed solos for standard guitar, of the thirty six movements that comprise the six unaccompanied Solo Cello Suites by JS Bach.( BWV 1007-1012)

Whilst they are catalogued here as Classical Guitar transcriptions, they represent plausible study material and functional repertoire for guitarists, both finger style and plectrum players alike.

These are not arrangements, nor are they intended to represent 'guitar friendly' versions in 'guitar friendly keys'. They are transcriptions for standard guitar in Johann Sebastian Bach's original keys, with absolute adherence to the melodies, harmonies and rhythms notated in the cello scores by Friedrich Grutzmacher, Johan  Dotzauer, Joseph Malkin and Hugo Becker. They have been  transcribed with no added notes.

Particular attention has been given to reference the range of tempos particular to recorded performances, including those of YoYo Ma, Mstislav Rostropovich, Natalia Gutman, Mischa Maisky, Tanya Tomkins and Anner Bylsma.

The work ranges in difficulty from the relatively short and sparse twenty bars of the Sarabande in C minor BWV 1011, to the expansive Prelude in D major BWV 1012. Some suites are predominantly single voiced, some with chordal punctuations, whilst others present rich, dense chordal voicings and harmonic movement.

Transcriptions are complete with traditional notation, guitar tablature, suggested fingerings and mp3 audio file.

Performance notes.

The guitar tunings used are standard with dropped D,C# and C.

D A D G B E , C# A D G B E and C A D G B E.

In the fullness of time, all suites will be available in dropped C tuning, eliminating the necessity to retune during performance.

Bach himself gave very few indications of articulation or dynamics.... editions with additional direction to the performer are no more than the ideas of one editor. The transcriptions catalogued here are completely "pure" in the sense that they have no dynamics or additional editorial markings.They are open to the interpretation of the player and the direction they feel it is natural for them to take.

May I suggest that you listen to different versions of performances of these works, and craft your own performance accordingly.

Where the fingering is indicated in these transcriptions, it is just a guide and that your own judgment should be the main factor. It often comes down to deciding whether to fret a note, or play it on an open string. There are many possibilities.

The trills usually begin on the upper note, but you should decide each case on its own merits.

Thanks to Christopher Costanzer for the opportunity to reference the commentary from the website 'The Cello Suites by JS Bach'.

There is also listed an ensemble transcription not associated with the Cello Suites, the Prelude and Fugue in E flat major BWV 876. The Prelude is transcribed for two guitars and the Fugue for four guitars in standard tuning.

The transcription and notation phase of this project began on October 20th 2013 with the Allemande in G major BWV 1007. It culminated with the completion of the catalogue with the Gigue in D major BWV 1012 on September 26th 2016.

For my part, the process of memorizing the Suites for performance is now in motion. This constitutes work in progress, the gentle awakening in the realization in the performance and  sharing of this wonderful music.

Thank you for visiting.