In this video, Jeff offers a lesson and plays his arrangement of Bach’s Prelude to the 1st Cello Suite for ukulele
Bach’s Prelude to 1st Cello Suite for ukulele
One of Johann Sebastian Bach’s most iconic pieces of music is this beautiful Prelude. It comes from his 1st Cello Suite in G Major (BWV 1007). This prelude has become an integral part of modern culture. It appears in movie and TV soundtracks, background music in video games, classical radio, and has been arranged for countless instruments and instrument combinations. But have you heard it on ukulele?
We can play the piece in its original key easily on the ukulele. This is especially true when we use Low-G tuning, like here. This produces a bright sound with the higher register of the ukulele. And that brighter sound really creates a unique timbre to this piece.
There are several techniques we can use to create flow and resonance in this piece. One way to do this is to use what is known as “campanella” fingerings in the left hand. This allows resonances to sustain over one another and sounds great on the ukulele. And a cello simply cannot do this. So once again it adds a unique sound on the ukulele.
We will use a simple pattern in the right hand to start the piece. However, we’ll need to be flexible with the right hand to balance out the sound. We can also introduce slurs for balance as well.
Another interpretive tool we have is flexibility with the tempo. Using rubato can allow phrases to come to life, but it will be up to you how much of this you want to use in your performance.
Finally, pay close attention to phrasing. We can use dynamics to give shape to the music, sometimes with call and response, sometimes with arcs. Dynamics can take a stale performance and bring it to life.
This prelude is just one of many pieces by the German kappelmeister whose music is part of the Grades curriculum at Ukulele Corner Academy. Below I’d like to share with you part one of my lesson on the piece — there are three more parts at the Academy! — along with a free download of the sheet music and TABs. I hope you enjoy.