Courante, BWV 996 by Bach (Lesson, PDF)

Performance, Lesson, Sheet Music: Courante from Suite in E Minor, BWV 996 by Bach

Here’s the third lesson for my edition of the Suite in E Minor, BWV 996. In this video I cover the Courante. I perform the piece, discuss an overview, and do a walk-through. Here’s the Youtube Lesson Link if you want to watch it there.

One thing to keep in mind is the two types of commonly used Courante forms that Bach employed. There is a French style and Italian style and here Bach is using the French style without distinguishing it by title. Courante literally means “running” and in the Italian style that is quite an accurate description of the musical texture. However, the French style is usually notated in 3/2, with a slower pulse but plenty of faster figuration. It usually has rhythmic ambiguities such as hemiolas, and in this case goes further to feeling a time signature change for a significant number of bars. The French courante had the slowest tempo of all French court dances, described by Mattheson, Quantz and Rousseau as “grave and majestic”. However, in order to feel the half note pulse the speed of the figuration has to be quite fast in terms of the amount of material within a beat.

I found this to be a particularly tricky movement but once you know each beat somewhat well it gets easier. You just really need to know it well because each bar and beat of the music is packed full of musical ideas and unusual techniques. Below is the edition info.

Suite in E Minor, BWV 996 by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) – PDF sheet music for classical guitar. Comes with both a notation-only edition and a tab edition. Left hand fingering. PDF Download. The overall level is advanced but certain movements are easier than others. Movements: Praeludio-Presto, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Bourrée, Gigue. Popularly known as a Lute Suite but possibly written for the lute-harpsichord (lautenwerk), an uncommon Baroque keyboard instrument. In terms of the manuscript, performance difficulty, key signature, and suitability, this is more similar to a keyboard composition. However, the overall lighter texture compared to his keyboard works hints at the texture capable by a lute. Nevertheless, modern guitar players have embraced the work and have found various arranging solutions for successful performance. Read more info in my Preface to this edition in both the free and fingered editions below.

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