This is my maiden and ambitious attempt to notate John Williams‘ playing of the Prelude of Lute Suite No. 4, BWV 1006a by Johann Sebastian Bach.
It is common knowledge that John Williams did not publish his interpretation of this piece as he believed that music should be unfettered by rigid adherence to standardised expectations or draconian rules. However, to preserve and to detail his playing would add to our understanding of how brilliant interpretation can make Bach come alive and in a way handhold budding guitarists in the personal journey to discover his musical direction through building on existing techniques. Breaking down the piece to bitesize levels, we can appreciate and pick up carefully skills employed by John Williams as he plays the piece and hopefully enhance our own performance.
It appears to go against the grain to bypass Bach’s conception of the piece based on yesteryears’ cultural and societal settings. One cannot deny though the evolution of music through the passing of time and season. John Williams’ interpretation embodies his person and history. As a legend for classical guitar, unlocking the secrets in a clinical study would be a gainful platform for personal development and future self expression. Take for example, Michaelangelo’s bust of David, his interpretation of David’s beauty has been replicated by many and later improvised. In the same vein, what we are doing here is to learn from the master and develop a personal voice ultimately.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Did you key in all the notes in this John Williams version of Prelude in E, BWV 1006a?
No. I already have the notes of BWV 1006a in softcopy. I edited and checked the notes from there.
2. How do you determine the position and/or string of the notes used?
Based on the video, note by note. When John Williams’ left hand is out of the camera frame, I’ll look at his right hand to determine the string used. If both hands are not visible, I can only make calculated guesses.
3. How are the hammer-on and pull-offs determined?
It is really hard to accurately determine the slurs used. I used the following clue during the making. LH: Slightly raised finger before the note played for hammer-on. Finger touching a higher string immediately after the execution for pull-off. RH: No obvious finger movement of playing when the next note sounds.
4. How accurate are the records?
I would say about 95% of the left hand. (Not inclusive of those notes played with his hands out of the camera frame.)
5. Why did you use B and N instead of the Barre indicators that are more widely used?
I think the Barre brackets/indicator makes the sheet music messy. Barring brackets/indicator is useful if the required Barre is within the same bar or line of staves. There is no way you can indicate the start of barring in situation when the notes continuing onto the next line of staff or are too far apart.
6. Did you do it looking at the video at full speed when you make this thing?
No. I slowed it down using video editing software such that each semiquaver is slightly less than half a second apart.
7. How are the dynamic markings determined?
I take reference from the audio sound wave of the video to identify the different volume levels. The expression markings are based on the audio levels. Relatively, as are dynamics in musical sense.