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ARTICULATION, TEXTURE, AND VOICING

Transcription vs. Arrangement To adapt music from one instrument to another involves making either a transcription or an arrangement. Transcriptions, strictly speaking, are more faithful to the original, while arrangements are more interpretive, with subjective reconstruction and sometimes even extreme changes made at the whim of an editor. Most guitar editions of Bachs solo violin and cello works are arrangements; however, the tendency in recent years has been to realize polyphony in ways that try to emulate Bachs own practices. Implied Polyphony Expressive articulation in Baroque music is profoundly important, yet often misunderstood and generally overlooked by modern musicians. For instance, Bach gives an articulate bass line throughout most of the lute works; that is, he took care to write short notes separated from one another by rests. A bass note spanning two or three beats, therefore, is usually written as a quarter note followed by rests, instead of as a half or dotted-half note. Modern players, however, have tended to ignore this and simply allow the basses to sustain indefinitely. In the upper voices, rests often serve a different purposeto clarify phrasing, figuration, or the entrance of a new line; thus, more latitude is given whether or not actually to silence a note at the occurrence of a rest sign. Similarly, short notes in the upper voices may be sustained and overlapped beyond their written notation if doing so serves the music, sonically and texturally. This is implicit in the style bris (broken style) of lute music (or of keyboard music designed to imitate the lute) in which melody notes are allowed to overlap and blend together with harmony notes. Also, in contrast to Bachs deliberate treatment of the bass notation, he usually did not indicate sustain in the upper parts by writing double stems, even when he probably wanted notes held beyond the rhythm of the melody line.1 Individual preference, therefore, must determine whether to choose strictly melodic fingering or harmonic fingering that allows for the selective overlapping of notes. The fingering in example 18b allows both the sustain of an

1 See Couperins Les Bergeries and Anna Magdalena Bachs copy of it in her notebook. The Couperin score is full of complex double-stems and ties while that of Anna Magdalena does away with the intricate notation.

implied chord and the gentle overlapping of stepwise notes, sometimes referred to as overlegato by harpsichordists and as campanella by guitarists.

Compound Melody Bachs solo works for bowed strings are written in a style of notation often referred to as compound melodic, in which multi-voice textures may be derived from what appears on paper to be a single voice. It is like musical shorthand that greatly reduces the clutter (especially when on a single staff) of rests, ties, and separate stems and beams that would be required if written in polyphonic notation. However, the intended voice to which a note should belong is at times ambiguous; nonetheless, a silver lining is that this results in diverse interpretations, keeping the music fresh and challenging to performers. In compound-melodic notation, larger intervals within what otherwise is a stepwise line may suggest the presence of a second melody, or of rudimentary structures for harmonic and bass support. For instance, the excerpt shown in Example a below, from the manuscript of Bachs first cello suite, is fully realized in Example b to show a three-voice interpretation in d minor for the guitar. In Example b, notes that have been lengthened to overlap other voices, and the harmonic suspension shown in measures 1-2, are subjective reconstructions.

Example 2a: Menuet II, mm. 14.

Example 2b. Example c is a compromise, but it is consistent with how Bach made his own arrangements for lute from the fifth cello suite and from the third violin partita, which we can emulate. For his lute versions of these works, the bass is fully developed into an independent voice with added notes and rests. The upper voices, however, remain notated as compound melody for the most part, with some added chords and contrapuntal tones, and with occasional divisions into two or more voices.

Example 2c. . The performer must determine how to bring out the implied polyphony so that it is perceptible to the listener. One of the best ways is by crossing strings after the final note of the first voice and allowing that note to overlap the entrance of the second voice. Other ways include holding the final note of one voice a little longer for emphasis before the entrance of the second voice, and/or by using a different volume or color for different voices. These latter methods are especially useful when string crossings are not possible or practical; however, if used excessively, they can create a stilted or mannered interpretation. In his solo works for lute and for keyboard, as mentioned above, Bach also usually separated bass notes from one another by including rests. We dont know to what extent consideration for technical concerns and for idiomatic qualities of the instrument may have factored into his choice for this articulation, aside from his personal musical aesthetic; however, shorter notes often give a lighter texture as well as rhythmic energy to the performance.

Example 3 Written:

Interpretation:

(BWV 1007, Prelude, mm. 11-12) Example 4: mm. 1112.

BWV 997, Sarabande, mm. 6-7 Example 5

Written:

Interpretation:

Example 5: mm. 12.