Guitar Tablature: “Bourrée in E Minor” by J.S. Bach
There are some songs that all classical guitar players will come across at one time or another. Learning how to play “Bourrée in E Minor” on guitar will give your classical skills a chance to shine. This piece is an excerpt that’s loads of fun to play because it sounds quite intricate, but it’s actually rather simple to play.
To play “Bourrée in E Minor,” you need to know how to play a melody using alternating fingers while playing a bass line with the thumb (contrapuntal style) and how to play barre chords. You’ll need to
Play all the bass notes (shown as downstems in the standard notation) using the thumb.
Alternate the fingers of the right hand.
Keep in mind that the alternation doesn’t need to be strict. Use a pattern that feels most comfortable.
In the following excerpt, some left-hand fingerings are shown at the very beginning to get you going. After that, use whatever fingering feels natural.
The “Bourrée in E minor” has such a beautiful and recognizable melody that guitarists from every style give it a try. For inspiration, listen to recordings of this piece by classical guitarist John Williams, as well as the folk version by Leo Kottke and the swing-jazz version by Jethro Tull. Heavy metal guitarist Yngwie (pronounce ING-vay) Malmsteen even does a version with ear-splitting stun-gun distortion. Although J.S. Bach never imagined all these wacky settings for his unprepossessing little dance suite segment, they all sound great.