Johann Sebastian Bach’s arrangements of the “69 Sacred Songs” from the Musical Hymnal by Georg Christian Schemelli (Leipzig, 1736) have long been part of the German language vocal concert repertoire and a mainstay in vocal pedagogy. Originally, only these 69 of the 954 hymns in the collection were published with a single bass line as the accompaniment. Bach’s contribution was to specify harmonies to be played over those same bass lines by adding figured bass numbers and symbols beneath each note.
A figured bass line can easily be turned into a relatively simple guitar accompaniment or a more elaborate setting, offering a range of possibilities that make working with this music both interesting and rewarding for the guitarist. While other period and modern editions of the “69 Sacred Songs” offer accompaniments for keyboard instruments, this Mel Bay publication features intermediate to advanced transcriptions exclusively for the guitar.
Best suited to college-level players or advanced aficionados, this special Mel Bay Publications edition includes the vocal line with German lyrics and the guitar accompaniment transcribed from Bach’s figured bass lines. Written in guitar-friendly keys, 29 of the transcriptions employ a capo to achieve the original key designed for high voices. Without the capo, these same arrangements would be suitable to be sung by lower voices. The remaining 40 hymns are in their original guitar-friendly keys and so do not require a capo.
This volume contains accompaniment settings of all 69 of the sacred songs and arias for which Bach wrote figured bass annotation. For performance variety and convenience, this book includes “Scores in their Original Keys,” and stand-alone “Guitar Accompaniment,” and “Bass Parts".