Exploring Contrapuntal Fingerings in Bach’s Allegro from BWV 998
When played on the modern classical guitar, the music of Johann Sebastian Bach presents a special set of challenges to overcome, as well as opportunities to enrich the listener’s experience. In the case of the Allegro from Prelude, Fugue and Allegro, BWV 998, there is a bounty of interesting contrapuntal material to explore, and chances to bring out polyphonic textures that are not necessarily apparent at first glance. A deep level of analysis and understanding is necessary to begin the process of creating left-hand fingerings that fully realize the potential of Bach’s music. In this exploration, we will consider the concepts of implied counterpoint and contrapuntal motives to reveal polyphonic textures in what seems to be only single-line music. This in turn will inform our choices in the left hand, causing us to sometimes pursue seemingly unrealistic options in the name of musical faithfulness. While these might not always be practical in performance, they nonetheless offer us the opportunity to engage with and understand the music more fully, expanding our knowledge of fretboard harmony and the perceived limitations of technique.