Bouree from the third cello suite, on waldzither in CGDA

  1. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    I normally keep my 9-string waldzither in octave mandolin tuning, with an additional high A course, i.e. (G)DAEA. However, I have just played around with putting the four double-string courses into (alto) mandola tuning, CGDA -- I still also have the single low G string, which I guess I could drop down to F, but is not needed for this piece.

    With this tuning, I can play the Bach cello suites in the original key, making them sound a lot better (and closer to the original) than playing them on mandolin transposed up a fifth. My favourite among the Cello Suites are the two bourrees in the third suite. I've just put together a recording of these on the waldzither, at a fairly slow tempo compared to how one normally hears these. That's partially to allow me to play cleanly and in time, and partially because it brings out the warm resonance and sustain of the waldzither, compared to my mandolins and also to most mandolas I've heard. I've also used a metronome to improve my timing on this, and I think that made a big difference compared to an earlier recording I made of this bouree on mandolin.

    The score I've used is the violin transcription in G major from the Icking Archive site, using mandolin fingering which on mandola transposes it down a fifth, i.e. back into original key of C major. I really should have used the alto clef version for viola which is also at Icking, but as I have had little opportunity to read alto clef in the past, the violin version is easier.

  2. Dave Kirkpatrick
    Dave Kirkpatrick
    Nicely done. Thanks for sharing this. Here's a link to the Bach cello suite viola solo
  3. Pasha Alden
    Pasha Alden
    Very good and an interesting take on the bouree - wondered, how can I get to the violin tab you mention? I am trying to get some music to be transcribed into braille so would like the braille transcriber to see the tab.

    With thanks

  4. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    VM -- Thanks for the comment. I wasn't referring to a violin tab edition (although there is a mandolin tab version at Mandozine here) but to a transcription for violin. The cello suites can be played with the same fingering on any instrument tuned in fifths, but depending on the tuning of the instrument this will change the key. The cello is tuned in CGDA, and the third suite was composed in C major. The mandola (or viola) is also tuned CGDA, but one octave higher than the cello, so playing the same fingering will give the piece still in C major, but one octave higher. For violin (or mandolin), the piece makes most sense if the key is changed to preserve the original fingering, i.e. the same fret is played on the same string as on mandola. As the mandolin is tuned one fifth above the mandola, this will naturally result in the key changing to G major.

    When it comes to sheet music, each of these instruments is commonly notated in a different clef: the cello in bass clef, the mandola/viola in alto clef and the mandolin/violin in treble clef. To allow for this, the Icking Archive/IMSLP has very nice PDF versions of the complete cello suites in these clefs, in the original keys for cello and viola and one fifth higher for violin. They can be found here:

    Violin (treble clef)
    Viola (alto clef)

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