Transcribing Johann Sebastian Bach’s Lute Music
for Guitar Bouzouki
Abstract and research question
Johann Sebastian Bach’s lute suites were probably written on the harpsichord, and are commonly performed on the guitar. This project examines the possibilities and limitations of transcribing one suite for a four-course, fifth-tuned instrument in the cittern/octave mandolin family, while preserving supposed interpretation practices from Bach’s era and/or from Scandinavian traditional music. The final artistic result may or may not express these traits. The audiovisual examples aim to express problems of interpretation, and suggestions for their solutions in the cases where they are specific to my instrument. I will attempt to contextualise the process through introducing various strands of research and the observations of others.
The discussion commences at a point where I have produced a suggestion for a transcription, as I embark from the premises laid out in the previous paragraph, and ask, Is it possible to create an edition of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Lute Suite BWV 997 for my instrument? Deriving from this question, I simultaneously ask, Which methods and contexts can I employ to make the artistic outcome convincing for myself, as well as for an audience familiar with this music?