Chaconne BWV 1004

Chaconne BWV 1004

Model: 12008 / CNP74564
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Johann Sebastian Bach

Arranged for Guitar by Jeffrey McFadden

Publication's Style: Soft Cover
Pages: 12
Level of Difficulty: Advanced

One of the most admired pieces in the canon of European art music, the present work is widely known in the English speaking world simply as 'The Chaconne.' Its breadth, beauty and extraordinary range of texture and expression has conferred on it the role of prototype, the measure by which all other works in genre are judged. Remarkably, the piece was originally scored using only the meagre textural resources of the solo violin. Bach's capacity to succeed again and again in this type of self-imposed challenge is a clear testament to his greatness.

The Partita in D Minor, BWV 1004, from which this piece is extracted, was written in about 1720. It is one of a collection of six pieces for solo violin, three in the form of the sonata da camera (alternating slow and fast movements) and three partitas comprised of dance movements. The movement itself is labelled Ciaconna, the Italian form of the term, as are the other dance movements. It is the concluding movement and is longer than the other movements (allemanda, corrente, sarabanda, giga) combined. In 1720, during the time that scholars recognize as his middle creative period, Bach was employed at the court of Anhalt-Cöthen. Unlike in his previous and later positions Bach was not required to provide a steady flow of functional church music at Cöthen. This allowed him to focus his compositional practice on solo instrumental and chamber music. Other great works from this period include the six cello suites and the Brandenburg Concerti.

Significantly, the chaconne first appeared in printed sources in early Italian Baroque Guitar collections. Here it is in rudimentary form, often given simply as a short progression, in triple metre, of fretboard chord formulations in alfabeto notation on which strummed variations would likely have been improvised. It continued to evolve in later Baroque Guitar books, including those by the great Francesco Corbetta.

Processes at Work in this Arrangement

There are several difficulties which attend the transcription of High Baroque lute music for the modern guitar. By Bach's time, the lute had evolved to have numerous added courses in the lower register making for a wider range of sonority and an expanded textural capacity. Its capabilities were more akin to those of the contemporary keyboard instruments and certainly surpass those of the modern guitar. Bach's lute suites were probably written...


  • Model: 12008 / CNP74564
  • Manufactured by: CNP
  • Condition: New

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