Over the last year or so, for obvious reasons, I started looking for solo repertoire for mandolin, fiddle and violin. Surprisingly, at least to me, I came up with a lot of arrangements that worked pretty darn well without accompaniment. (And I’ll be posting some of those here and on my Youtube channel in the coming months.)
But of all genres/periods of music, Baroque classical gets my award for Best Unaccompanied Music for Instruments Tuned in Fifths.
Bach’s Cello Suites and Solo Violin Partitas and Sonatas set an impossibly high benchmark for any solo instrumental music that followed. And Bach just turned out so, so much great music. I’m convinced he stepped off a flying saucer — it’s just hard to imagine a mere mortal writing so much amazing music.
But I digress…
If you feel like playing around with one of the greatest pieces of solo composition ever, give this one a try. If you’ve played folk music but are new to classical, just keep in mind that a lot of classical music — especially from this period — is based on dance, just like fiddle tunes are. This movement of the Solo Violin Partita #2 is a “gigue.” Say that word out loud: does that sound a little like “jig” to you?
Although this arrangement is written in 12/8, the rhythmic “feel” is the same as the 6/8 time of an Irish jig. And while there’s a bit more ebb and flow to tempos in classical music than there is in straight-up fiddle music, I think this will feel familiar to most bluegrass and Celtic mandolin players. Challenging, yes, but familiar.
Give it a try. Here’s the sheet music (standard notation and tab):