Minuet in G Minor (BWV Anh. 115) by Christian Petzold

Classical guitar Minuet in G Minor (BWV Anh. 115) is the companion piece to Minuet in G Major (BWV Anh. 114). Both harpsichord compositions originate from a notebook of Johann Sebastian Bach's second wife, Anna Magdalena Bach, containing music from a variety of composers. Both also continue to be misattributed to Bach even though scholars confirmed Christian Petzold as the composer many years ago.

Minuet in G Minor (BWV Anh. 115) is meant to be played immediately after its major key companion. Unfortunately, the guitar impedes a smooth transition between the two pieces. Unlike BWV Anh. 114, BWV Anh. 115 requires a dropped-D tuning. Therefore, one must either tune down the sixth string after completing the first minuet or quickly switch to a second guitar in dropped-D. Both approaches interrupt the flow of music. The only workable approach I could devise to transcribe the piece using standard tuning would have changed the key to A minor. Such a change would have required transposing BWV Anh. 114 to A major in order to play the two in succesion. I preferred to keep both pieces in their original keys.

More so than BWV Anh. 114, BWV Anh. 115 exemplifies how simple keyboard music can be awkward to play on the guitar. Not only is the fingering contorted at times, but also the ornaments are difficult to execute. I omitted the trills[1] from measures 9 and 31, believing them to be impractical to play. I was tempted to omit all of the ornamentation because, to my ear, it just doesn't sound all that good on the guitar (although I'm sure David Russell could make it sound better). I've expanded the ornamentation into explicit notation instead of using ambiguous trill and mordent symbols. The trills occur in measures 8 and 15; the mordents occur in measures 13 and 22. You should learn the piece without them first, playing only the principal note in each case (the second note for the trills and the first note for the mordents). After learning the piece without the ornaments, you can add them one by one.

I used the same source as BWV Anh. 114 for my transcription: an 1894 Breitkopf & Härtel edition. Given the larger range of pitches possible on keyboard instruments, I had to omit some notes and raise others an octave. I also added legato where it makes sense for the guitar. Note, however, that guitar music sounds an octave lower than it is written, so the transcription is already an octave lower than the original. Any notes raised an octave (generally low C notes that can't be played on the sixth string) sound at their intended pitch. Attempting to play the entire piece at pitch on the guitar is not really possible.

The left-hand fingering may seem unusual in a few instances, but is designed to facilitate smooth transitions from position to position. Measure 1 opts to use finger 4 for the consecutive B♭ and A notes to enable playing the measure by moving only the fingers instead of the entire hand. In measure 3, the C should be stopped by moving finger 1 into a barre while continuing to stop the E♭. In measure 17, the E♮ should be played by lifting just enough of finger 1 to free the first string while continuing to stop the B♭. Measure 16 uses finger 2 to stop the D on the fifth string instead of finger 3 to make it easier to stretch finger 4 to stop the B♭ on the sixth string. If you can't execute the stretches in measures 16 and 32, you can delete a note from the chord, allowing you to move it to a higher fret closer to the bass note.

[1] The trills in this piece are often misplayed as reverse/inverted mordents. In Bach's era, the symbol that is now interpreted as an inverted mordent was to be interpreted as a trill. The inverted mordent was not used.