Orchestral Suite No. 1, Movement 4, Bouree II

Johann Sebastian Bach

Orchestral Suite No. 1 (1717-1723)

Movement 4, Bourree II

  • One bassoon part
  • 1-24 (24 total measures)
  • Range: (low C–D above the staff)
  • Bass clef only

Performance issues: Phrasing, Note patterns, Articulation, Accidentals, Dynamics, Low register

PDF of the excerpts

About the music: The bourree is a French dance in duple meter which features a half beat pick-up into the first full measure: looking at the excerpt movement will clarify this rhythmic pattern and help the student plan phrase groupings. It will also make apparent the formal design for the movement; there are two sections, each of which repeats. This format is called “binary” form and it is the usual organizing principle for each dance in a suite. The form sketch is usually designated as (aabb), or more simply (AB).

Bourree II is included as an excerpt in this collection because of its importance: it is scored only for the double reed trio. Bourree I, occurring both before and after the excerpt, is scored for tutti winds and strings. (Note the “Bourree I da capo” indication at the end of the excerpt.) Bach thus created contrast in the middle of his Bourree set.

About performing the excerpt: The excerpt has regular four-measure phrases, always beginning with the pick-up note preceding the bar line. The style has to be energetic, facile, and light in quality, and the bassoon player must match the style of the oboes’ – articulation and tone. In those measures where the melodic line descends into the low range, several challenges exist for the intermediate player: one must not be sharp in pitch, slow in thumb technique, or heavy in the attack on the low C. Recordings will provide the student with some ideas as to style possibilities. For the sake of developing endurance, the student should always practice this excerpt with all repeats.

To begin to establish overall concepts about the performance of Baroque music, the student should consider this passage as related to excerpts other excerpts and movements by Bach.

This excerpt was taken and used with permission from Ann Pesavento’s doctoral dissertation: Orchestral excerpts as developmental studies for the intermediate bassoonist: a collection of selected passages. D.A. diss, University of Northern Colorado, 1989. Pp. 360. OCLC#: 21892445. UMI 9016608.