Bourrée in E Minor

By Gerken, Teja | Acoustic Guitar, November 2006 | Go to article overview

Bourrée in E Minor


Gerken, Teja, Acoustic Guitar


For many classical guitar students, playing the Bourrée in E minor by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) is a rite of passage from playing mere exercises to playing music that many non-musicians will recognize and appreciate. Bach wrote the Bourrée sometime after 1712 (the exact date is unknown) as part of his Lute Suite No. 1, and it was adapted for guitar in the 20th century, after the instrument earned acceptance in classical circles. Andrés Segovia recorded a version of it in 1947; since then, the piece has made its way onto countless classical guitar recordings, and it has a firm place in the repertoire. However, classical guitarists aren't the only ones to cut their teeth on the Bourrée- case in point: British rockers Jethro Tull, who included a jazzed-up band version on their 1969 album Stand Up. Their decidedly non-classical performance provided the blueprint for an arrangement often performed live (but never officially released) by Michael Hedges-playing flute!-and electric bass virtuoso Michael Manring.

Thanks to its popularity outside the classical realm, referring to the piece merely as "the Bach Bourrée" will generally allow people to recall the correct tune, but you'll probably want to be more specific when trying to impress your classically trained friends.

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