FOR THE CURIOUS CELLIST

Bach: Cello Suite Nº 5: Sheet Music

For a discussion of the peculiarities of this suite as well as about the relative advantages and disadvantages of the scordatura and non-scordatura versions, click here. At the bottom of this page is a compilation of the obligatory note modifications that are required for the non-scordatura version.

For each movement of this suite, at least seven different versions will be available for download:

  • a comparison of the four different manuscript sources (but here written out at true pitch)
  • Bach’s original scordatura notation (as reproduced by the various copyists)
  • a Duo Version, in which a “walking bass” accompaniment for a second cello is added to the “solo” part
  • Performance Versions, both Edited and Clean, with and without the scordatura tuning

1: MANUSCRIPT COMPARISONS

Prelude and Fugue      Allemande        Courante and Sarabande       Gavottes and Gigue

2: ORIGINAL SCORDATURA NOTATION

Prelude and Fugue       Allemande        Courante and Sarabande         Gavottes and Gigue

3: PERFORMANCE VERSIONS

Ultimately, both the scordatura and non-scordatura versions will be presented here together. For the moment only the “non-scordatura” version is available.

PRELUDE AND FUGUE

Non-Scordatura: Clean Performance Version       Non-Scordatura: Edited Performance Version

ALLEMANDE

In making our playing versions of this movement there are a few significant and difficult decisions that need to be taken concerning the bowings and the dotted rhythms. Do we “double-dot” (see Dotted Rhythms and Rhythmic Factors in Bach) or do we play the more sedate original version (as notated by Bach)? If we do double-dot, then which figures do we modify and which do we leave alone? Concerning the layout, this movement is offered here in both a condensed layout (on only one page) and also widely spread out over two pages.

Non-Scordatura: Clean Performance Version: 1p        Non-Scordatura: Clean Performance Version: 2p

Non-Scordatura: Edited Performance Version: 1p      Non-Scordatura: Edited Performance Version: 2p

COURANTE

Non-Scordatura: Clean Performance Version           Non-Scordatura: Edited Performance Version

SARABANDE and GAVOTTES

These movements are published together for page-layout reasons.

Non-Scordatura: Clean Performance Version       Non-Scordatura: Edited Performance Version

GIGUE

In this movement, like the Allemande, we have to decide if we want to do “double-dotting” or not. This Gigue’s 43 bars of classic 3/8 dotted rhythm can be even more “frenchified” and lightened by shortening the dotted note slightly as shown in the following example.

rhythm38dbledotwithword

But we can make this movement even more dotted, sparkling and “French” by also making the following double-dotting conversion, in which the three semiquavers that lead into the next bars are converted into semidemiquavers. This rhythmic figure occurs twenty times in the movement. rhythmdbledotgigueVnew

Not doing this makes the movement more plodding and heavy. It is these modified “double-dotted” rhythms that are found in the playing editions offered here.

Non-Scordatura: Clean Performance Version       Non-Scordatura: Edited Performance Version

4: DUO VERSIONS

Finding a nice second-cello voice for the minor-key suites (V and II) is considerably more complex than for the major-key suites. Here then is my best effort for this suite. It is most certainly very improvable.

Prelude and Fugue    Allemande    Courante    Sarabande     Gavottes      Gigue

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OBLIGATORY NOTE MODIFICATIONS REQUIRED FOR THE NON-SCORDATURA VERSION

The version of this suite for non-scordatura cello is also somewhat of an “arrangement” of the original, mainly in the sense that 18 chords or doublestops (in the entire suite) need to be revoiced. This is because these chords can’t use the top string as intended by Bach, and are therefore either no longer possible, don’t resonate well, or are extremely awkward to play. These obligatory revoicings don’t however seem to negatively influence the musical line or the harmonic effect in any significant way. There are also two unisons which are not possible in the non-scordatura version. Here are the totality of these 18 revoicings.  The red rectangles show the original chords while the green ovals show the modified versions for non-scordatura tuning.

nonscord modifications NEWSurprisingly – and happily for non-scordatura players – some of Bach’s original scordatura chords are actually significantly more awkward than their non-scordatura versions!!: