J.S. Bach’s Lute Suite BWV 1006a: A Study in Transcription

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Scott Workman

Abstract

J.S. Bach often transcribed his own musical works, using them in multiple settings, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the Lute suites. This paper explores Bach’s method of transcription in these suites, focusing on Suite no. 4. BWV 1006a provides one of the best opportunities to study Bach’s method of re-using his own material. It is also a prime example of Bach’s tendency to compose works using a general sketch, independent of instrumental considerations, and adapt them later to various idioms. It will be seen that Bach’s transcriptions successfully transform the source material into a piece that is idiomatically appropriate. This information informs modern performance practice and enhances understanding of the transcription process.

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