Bach transcription for technical practice (and fun)

Unfortunately for us bassoonists Bach didn’t write all that much specifically for us. The instrument of his time wasn’t as flexible as the members of the string family or keyboards, and it lacked the carrying power that the range of the flute provides. So what we get is usually continuo parts or occasionally an interesting actual solo line in something like the orchestral suites, but frequently the “fun” material is pretty short lived.

While I love continuo playing, I sometimes lust after the music the violins or other more “solo” instruments get. So I set my sights high and made a transcription of the violin part from Bach’s 4th Brandenburg concerto. It’s terribly not idiomatic for our instrument so it provides a challenge on what to do with transposition of octaves (retaining the original key) and then also a challenge to play given some of the requirements of the notes themselves, especially at typical performance tempi.

This is not really designed to be a drop-in replacement for the violin for the ambitious bassoonist that actually wants to solo on this piece, although it could be used that way. It’s probably not balanced at all. I made it more for a practice piece. It covers the entire range of the bassoon from low B to high D, and not always in the way that is practical if I were writing this as a performance version. Still, it’s fun to play Bach so I’m releasing it into the world for anyone else that wants something interesting and fresh to practice.

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3 Comments

  1. Peter D

     /  November 10, 2019

    Thank you, Trent! My wonderful partner Anne is a violinist, I am always on the lookout for violin/bassoon transcriptions. This is fantastic! I will look into seeing what I can do to adopt it for our combination. There is a duo/couple (Dyad) in Los Angeles that has a couple YouTubes and has shared some arrangements with us. Thanks!

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  2. John, certainly agree on Bach (add singing, which is what I did before my mandolin life began). And I remember struggling through the

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  3. Mike Marshall Caterina Lichtenberg published both sheet music and recordings of the 2 parts, with just a few minor alterations to fit the Mandocello and mandolin. They are great fun and good for the technical practice.

    Reply

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