This famous Bourree in E minor was written by J.S. Bach (1685-1750) and comes from his Lute Suite BWV 996. It is currently a grade 6 classical guitar exam piece for the ABRSM.
The Bourree was originally a dance of French origin, and was imported into some of the later Baroque suites as an additional movement between the stately Sarabande and the lively final Gigue. Sometimes a Gavotte, Passapied or Minuet would be included at this point instead of a Bourree. These pieces were known as galanteries, and would sometimes appear in a
pair, e.g. Gavottes I and II or Minuets I and II.
This particular Bourree is written in two parts, i.e. a top line and a bass part, with each part having a strong melody line. As with all contrapuntal guitar music I'd suggest playing each line separately to get a clear picture of each part. On recombining the two parts it will then be easier to hear and bring out the two melodic lines.
At grade 6 level you should certainly be able to damp open string bass notes in order to make sure that they don't ring out longer than their intended duration. A prime example of this is the bottom E on the first crotchet in bar 1. Unless this is damped after being played it will ring out for the whole of the first bar and create a muddy sound.
The technique for damping the open string is as follows:
Note that it's only after you play the second bass note that go back and damp the first note with your right hand thumb. It's generally not a good idea to use your left hand digits purely for damping strings as it impedes their movement. But note that the open A string on the second crotchet beat doesn't need to be damped as it stops sounding as soon as we play the 3rd crotchet B in the bass. Here the damping is a by-product of the left hand simply playing another note on the same string, and is of course perfectly acceptable.
- Play the low E with the right hand thumb.
- Now play the second crotchet A in the bass with the right hand thumb.
- Immediately after playing the A bring the right hand thumb to rest on the low E to stop it sounding.
I'll shortly be adding an MP3 audio recording in place of the midi file for this piece.