Category Archives: baroque lute

Giga by David Kellner & Menuet by Camille d’Hostun

Two elementary and intermediate level ten-string guitar transcriptions of baroque lute music:

Camille d’Hostun, duc de Tallard (1652-1728)

TALLARD [click here to download PDF]
Transcription by Viktor van Niekerk

David Kellner (1670-1748)

KELLNER [click here to download PDF]
Transcription by Viktor van Niekerk

Note: Numbers inside triangles indicate strings whose vibrations need to be checked by the given finger of the left or right hand. When this symbol is accompanied by the abbreviations w, th, or dp, the meaning is to stop the vibration of the string by means of the RH wristheel (thumb-side), and distal phalanx of the thumb respectively. The difference between stopping the sound with “p” (thumb) and “dp” is that the first makes use of the thumb pad (as if playing the string) while the latter checks the string’s vibration by means of the side of the thumb’s distal phalanx (i.e., placing the thumb ‘under’, not on, the string). The latter technique is useful when ascending to an adjacent string, not wishing both to sound together. Not all such techniques are explicitly indicated. The most common damping technique is a (light) rest stroke, when descending across adjacent strings that form a major/minor 2nd, e.g., a rest stroke on string 10 after sounding string 9, leaving 10 to sound while checking 9 by coming to rest on it. Occasionally it is a good idea to fret the A2 bass on string 9/10 instead of playing it open when it is followed by an open 9th string (i.e., G#2 or G2). This avoids the melodic (M/m) 2nd becoming a dissonance as well as unnecessarily tricky damping. There is an example of this fingering in the Kellner Giga: the anacrusis or pickup from bars 3 to 4, page 2, system 2.

Menuet (Urtext) by Tallard

Giga (Urtext) by Kellner

J.S. Bach: Prelude (BWV 999), edition Viktor van Niekerk

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude in C minor BWV 999

Edition Viktor van Niekerk: click here to download PDF

Note: Narciso Yepes used a half capo tasto at III when he performed this prelude. While avoiding the extended barre of mm. 1-4, this solution (like most six-string guitar editions) makes it impossible to play the correct bass note on page 2, system 4, m. 2 (p. 1, system 6, m. 2 of the Urtext). I prefer to do away with the capo altogether, a solution which opens again other possibilities. One of these is occasionally to fret the bass line on strings 8-10, avoiding disruptive mid-phrase changes of position. Interpretive merits aside, for the advanced ten-string guitarist the result is also a good technical study in extended use of the fingerboard, and for the agility of the right hand thumb (strings 7-10 are used 46 times in this brief composition).

(Clearly I disagree with the assumed “fidelity” of formalist “executions” of the text that “read” literal “intentions” into rests. There are examples in Bach’s music where such textualism results in obvious nonsense, e.g., four one-bar phrases of a single melodic line, with big leaps, instead of one four-bar phrase in steps and two-part counterpoint at the beginning of the Sarabande of BWV 995. Nevertheless I believe in the value of a plurality of different interpretations, so I may well formalize or “rhythmicize” some future performance, just as I may take the tempo slower or quicker, bring out other implied voices, or apply other articulations and dynamics. Why not? For an excellent demonstration of such possibilities in Bach – but not necessarily just in Bach – see this lesson by pianist-composer Emile Naoumoff.)

J.S. Bach: Prelude (BWV 999)

J.S. Bach: Prelude (BWV 999)

J.S. Bach: Prelude (BWV 999)
Urtext in the hand of Bach’s student J.P. Kellner


Explanation of Symbols

Julian Bertino’s Graduating Recital, 16 April 2016


Hirokazu Sato (*1966) – Mountains, Wind and the Lakes (1997) for 10-string guitar

Concepción Lebrero (*1937) – Remembranza de Juan de la Cruz (1989) for 10-string guitar

(About this work, see:


Fernando Sor (1778-1839) – Marche Funèbre pour harpolyre
(Ed. Viktor van Niekerk for 10-string guitar after Sor’s original publication for 21-stringed guitar)

Julian Bertino (*1991) – Kriyā (2016) for 10-string guitar

Johann Friedrich Fasch (1688-1758) – Lute Concerto FaWV L:d1


Playlist of full recital:

3 Baroque Lute Sonatas (Falckenhagen, Straube, Weiss)

‘We can say that the lute is to the guitar as the harpsichord is to the piano. And if this is true, how can we take the music written for these eight, nine, or 10-course instruments – even [eleven,] thirteen and fourteen courses, in the case of the baroque lute – and transcribe it for a guitar, which has only six strings? [...] I want to be able to make “legitimate” transcriptions in which the music loses nothing, but rather improves in quality.’ (Narciso Yepes. 1978. “The Ten-String Guitar: Overcoming the Limitations of Six Strings”. Interviewed by L. Snitzler. Guitar Player 12, p. 26.)

Sonata no. 2 by Adam Falckenhagen (live in Buenos Aires):

Sonata no. 1 by Rudolf Straube:

Sonata no. 2 by Silvius Leopold Weiss:


“With the ten-string guitar I have many possibilities, and I do not need the baroque [lute] tuning exactly.” (Narciso Yepes. 1983. “Conversation with Narciso Yepes”. Interviewed by J. Schneider. Soundboard , Spring: p. 66.)

Scordatura: String 7 = B1 (low B)
Scordatura: String 7 = B1 (low B) – other low basses (C#2, D#2) are fretted on string 7


Gigue by François Dufault


Dufault2François Dufault’s Gigue (Souris no. 72) transcribed for 10-string guitar after the tablature for 11-course baroque lute (Berlin, Pr. St. Bibl., Mus. Ms. 40149 pp 42-3).

Gigue (Urtext) by Dufault
Gigue (Urtext) by Dufault


François Dufault (or Du Faut) was a French lutenist of the seventeenth century. He studied with Denis Gaultier and became in his own right one of the most celebrated representatives of the lute’s golden age in France.

His playing was described as “very grave and learned” by the author of Mary Burwell’s lute book, while the Dutch lute-enthusiast Constantijn Huygens referred to Dufault as “the rarest man I ever hope to see [sic] upon the lute” and “the rarest compositor [sic] that I ever heard, and the sweetest humor of a man.”

For more about Dufault’s reception and historical significance, see:

‘The historical importance of François Dufault and his influence on musicians outside France’ by  Tim Crawford

For an interview germane to the interpretation of French music of the 17th century, see: