An Exploration into the Use of Scordatura Tuning to Perform J. S. Bach's Partita BWV 1004 on the Guitar
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractJ. S. Bach’s solo string and lute works have become an indispensable part of the modern guitar repertoire. While the tonal character of the modern guitar, being closely related to the Baroque guitar and lute, is fitting for Baroque performance practice, the instrument was not directly associated with Bach’s compositional idioms as he did not play it nor compose for it. Therefore, the renditions of Bach’s works on the modern guitar expose a series of technical and stylistic problems, with the majority of the problems being a result of the tuning structure of the guitar. This study investigates the use of a lute-inspired scordatura (hereinafter referred to as semi-lute scordatura) on the guitar to: (1) simplify technical difficulties by promoting the use of lower positions and open strings, (2) embody the stylistic features of the lute and harpsichord, and (3) incorporate ornamental practices from the lute and harpsichord. The Violin Partita BWV 1004 has been used in this document as a model to demonstrate the outstanding features that the semi-lute scordatura provides in these respects. The results of this study not only inform guitarists of the possibility to perform Bach’s music with scordatura tuning, but more importantly, they also expose guitarists to the lute and harpsichord style to ultimately provide essential knowledge that can be applied to create a historically-inspired rendition of Bach’s music on the guitar, even with standard tuning.
Degree ProgramGraduate College