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J. S. Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Mandolin

By Mandolin Cafe
September 9, 2013 - 8:00 am

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J. S. Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Mandolin

J. S. Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Mandolin

Daniel Sellman, a UK based mandolinist has announced the self-publication of J. S. Bach Sonatas and Partitas for Mandolin: the complete Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin transcribed for mandolin in staff notation and tablature.

The tablature finger positions have been carefully devised in order to include all voices from Bach's manuscript, with consideration of their intuitiveness for the player. Includes all pieces from the 3 Sonatas and 3 Partitas.

Author Sellman said, "I began this project before I knew Chris Thile was recording it, which I was of course delighted to hear about! I found that noting the finger positions in a tab format is a really good way to navigate around some of the complex chords and voicings in the music.

"Also, I know that many mandolin players are not able to sight read, but I don't believe that should exclude them from accessing this amazing music."

Additional information

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Reader Comments

Bongo
September 09, 2013 08:45 AM
Hi, just to say that I am a member of the Cafe and would welcome any feedback, questions or general discussion about this book. I hope it proves to be a useful resource.

Daniel Sellman
(Bongo)
robert.najlis
September 09, 2013 02:25 PM
Hi Daniel,
It would be great to see some samples from the book.
Jim Garber
September 09, 2013 04:09 PM
Daniel: I assume that the fingerings are all your own and the arrangements fit to the playing of the mandolin as opposed to violin. Of course, you could read the notation any way you want but the tab would have to be read according to your arrangement.
bratsche
September 09, 2013 05:14 PM
Quote from Jim Garber: Daniel: I assume that the fingerings are all your own and the arrangements fit to the playing of the mandolin as opposed to violin. End Quote

I never really "got" this sentiment. If I were playing them on mandolin, I'd use the same notation and fingerings I used on violin, except for the odd chord I might need to change the structure of slightly, for convenience of picking vs. bowing. Since I'm playing mostly on mandola, I use my viola fingerings (which are only slightly modified from violin ones, maybe not even 2 percent different, I'd guess).

So, what would be specifically considered "arrangements fit to the playing of the mandolin"? I'm really curious.

bratsche
the_polish_mandolinist
September 09, 2013 07:08 PM
A sample would be great!
Jim Garber
September 09, 2013 08:30 PM
Quote from bratsche: I never really "got" this sentiment. If I were playing them on mandolin, I'd use the same notation and fingerings I used on violin, except for the odd chord I might need to change the structure of slightly, for convenience of picking vs. bowing. Since I'm playing mostly on mandola, I use my viola fingerings (which are only slightly modified from violin ones, maybe not even 2 percent different, I'd guess).

So, what would be specifically considered "arrangements fit to the playing of the mandolin"? I'm really curious. End Quote

I am curious as well. My basic preference is to play these pieces from a nice clean urtext violin version and work out my own fingerings. This was my polite way to ask what makes this transcribed for mandolin. I would imagine that the primary appeal to some mandolinists would be to have the tab version available.
bratsche
September 09, 2013 08:57 PM
Quote from Jim Garber: I would imagine that the primary appeal to some mandolinists would be to have the tab version available. End Quote

I thought so, too. I've seen a lot more appeals for Bach tab versions lately than I ever did before, probably due to Chris Thile's recording reaching more people who'd never previously thought about playing the S & Ps on mando. So I guess they will get their wish!

bratsche
Franc Homier Lieu
September 10, 2013 05:40 AM
We should ask this Thile guy. Here he is talking about violin fingerings in an interview at violinist.com:

[QUOTE]Laurie: Did you look at any editions with violin fingerings, and did those work? Or did you have to change quite a lot?
Chris: The Barenreiter has no fingerings in it. I looked at Szeryng's edition, long ago, and just realized that it's just very specific to the violin -- violin fingerings are violin fingerings! I found it really informative to know what you guys were doing a lot of the time, but with the mandolin there are so many options. End Quote

Here is the link: http://www.violinist.com/blog/laurie/20138/14899/

I like the idea of a standard notation version with suggestions for mandolin fingerings where they might differ from violin. John Cranton's "MandoBach" takes this approach. I like figuring out my own fingerings from the notation, but I have also discovered that there are possibilities that would never occur to me, so I really like the idea of comparing different approaches. Of course there is a very limited market for this. TAB sells. I find the TAB is a poor compromise, because while it does tell you the position, you are still left to figure out the precise fingering choices. What also appeals to me about this new book is that there are parts of the sonatas and partitas that have not yet turned up in the various publications devoted to Bach on the mandolin.
mildini mandolini
September 10, 2013 06:23 AM
Hi
I am playing a lot of the Cello suites on the Mandocello and it is not always easy to transfer the cello fingerings to the mandocello, especially when it comes to the tricky parts (mind you the cello players also have the option of using their thumb when playing high up on the neck which does not work for us....)
but waht I find more important is to find fingerings that fit your hand size and this would be true for the violin/mandolin Sonatas and Partitias as well
different hand/finger sizes call for different fingerings
so a tabbed version or a fingered version offer you a great opportunity to look at one player's solution that may or may not work for you.

it will never replace serious study of the an Urtext edition and /or the joy of finding your own custom made version of your own fingerings, string crossings, up and down strokes, inverted chords, shifting etc and the joy of erasing it all when you play it again after a few years as your playing may have improved and you can do things that you could not do before or you after you had a tonal / harmonic or whatever kind of enlightenment

I salute Bosco for having done this huge amount of work and found his way of playing all this fnatastic music and was kind enough to share it with us

Stefan
bratsche
September 10, 2013 10:48 AM
Quote from mildini mandolini:

it will never replace serious study of the an Urtext edition and /or the joy of finding your own custom made version of your own fingerings, string crossings, up and down strokes, inverted chords, shifting etc and the joy of erasing it all when you play it again after a few years as your playing may have improved and you can do things that you could not do before or you after you had a tonal / harmonic or whatever kind of enlightenment

End Quote

Haha - too true! I don't have any Urtexts, but I do have a bottle of white-out, a soft pencil and a good eraser handy at all times. smile

bratsche
Bongo
September 10, 2013 02:44 PM
Thank you to all for your comments.

The approach that I have taken to making this book is to look very closely at both Bach's manuscript and the urtext and thinking hard about how it can be translated to the mandolin. The most obvious example of this is how the violin approaches chords (in a broken fashion) against how the mandolin approaches them, and the problems this can cause with regard to finger position. There is also the inherent difference of pick vs bow and the effect that has on note duration. What I have done is made the appropriate changes in this arrangement to ensure that the chords and voices are possible and playable on the mandolin. There are many detailed examples of this and I will happily expand if anyone is interested.

Re the point about fingering - this is absolutely my own approach and I would not for a minute suggest that this replace the manuscript or urtext. The key thing I want to achieve here is to make these pieces more accessible, by ensuring that that there is a well thought out suggestion or interpretation of how these pieces should be approached when playing on a mandolin. I am really hoping that people will find this transcription and tablature a useful resource in that respect.

And re providing a sample - smashing idea! - I will see if I can make that possible on amazon, and if not if there is a good alternative (suggestions welcome and thank you for the tip!).

PS please ask this Thile chap - I'd love to know what he thinks!...
GuyIncognito
October 02, 2013 12:45 PM
I got this in the mail the other week. It's nice to have the complete Sonatas and Partitas all in one book. Everything is clear and easy to read, I just wish this was spiral bound but that is a small complaint. I'm addicted to this book, very fun and beautiful. Highly recommend for any mandolin player
Bluetickhound
November 18, 2013 02:17 PM
I just ordered my copy today. It'll be really nice to have the complete versions of the song I want to learn as opposed to just having small snippets....
GuyIncognito
November 18, 2013 02:23 PM
Quote from Bluetickhound: I just ordered my copy today. It'll be really nice to have the complete versions of the song I want to learn as opposed to just having small snippets.... End Quote

Its worth it, highly addicting and beautiful
Jim Garber
November 18, 2013 02:46 PM
Quote from GuyIncognito: I just wish this was spiral bound but that is a small complaint. End Quote

You can take it to Kinko's or Staples and they can spiral/comb bind it for you for a few dollars. I have done that with a few books lik Marilynn Mair's and some choro books. Makes life and playing much easier than using snackback clips or whatever to hold it open on your stand.

Jim
Bluetickhound
November 19, 2013 02:59 PM
Thanks for the tip, Jim! I'll be doing that as soon as my book gets here.
Bongo
February 11, 2014 01:18 PM
Hi,

Thanks again for all the comments - I really hope that people are enjoying the book and finding it useful.

I have made a few small amendments to the book but wanted to make them available to those who bought it before today (11/2/2014). If anyone is interested in having these - just send me a message with your email address and I will send them over. I will send them as individual pages that can just be printed off and stuck in the book over the existing page - if you wish to. I will also include an explanation of the small amends I have made.

Again, I hope this is useful.

Very best wishes,

Daniel Sellman
alwarren13
September 11, 2014 02:12 PM
I have a version of it, that Chris Thile plays, in PDF format, if anyone would like to take a look. It's something that i have been working on, it's not entirely finished yet, but id be willing to share!! smile
Bluelizardman
January 05, 2015 11:11 AM
Mr Sellman, thanks for what looks like a great resource. I am relatively new to the mandolin and have learned some Bach from the Hal Leonard and Mel Bay books which include CDs of the pieces. I find this very helpful when learning pieces, and am wondering if you now include, or plan to include a CD with your book? Alternatively do you have a suggestion where to find mandolin recordings of what is in your book?

Also are there samples of the tab in your book so I can judge if I can tackle the pieces?

Thanks
Bob
DavidKOS
January 05, 2015 11:38 AM
Thanks for editing the Bach, and for tabbing it for those that do not read notation.

On the other hand, I'm in the camp of "violin fingerings work on mandolin" (I've studied both instruments) and found the discussion about fingerings to be interesting.

Bongo - " There is also the inherent difference of pick vs bow and the effect that has on note duration. What I have done is made the appropriate changes in this arrangement to ensure that the chords and voices are possible and playable on the mandolin. There are many detailed examples of this and I will happily expand if anyone is interested."

I'm interested...this is one thing I may need to consider again.
rubydubyr
January 05, 2015 12:11 PM
I just put this on my wish list at amazon along with the bach 2 part inventions smile
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