Guitar Lesson: A Fun Alternate Picking Song to Work on This Labour Day Weekend

For the upcoming Labour Day Weekend I thought I would give you a fun alternate picking song to play.

It’s a piece by J. S. Bach.

I’m sure you’ve heard his name before.

Johann Sebastian Bach

Bach is considered to be one the most important composers of all time.  Although Bach never actually wrote any music for the guitar, many of his pieces have become standard repertoire for guitar players.  His pieces have so much to offer guitarists.

The song we will look at today is Bourree II from Orchestral Suite Number 2.

Like all of Bach’s pieces it sounds great at any tempo.

This piece is for intermediate to advanced guitar players.

In this post, you will find PDF sheet music in tab and standard notation for you to download and print off.  I’ve also included an audio recording of the piece played on electric guitar.

The first thing you should do is click on the following link to download and print off the sheet music.  You can download the PDF for Bach’s Bourree II here –> Bach’s Bourree II

Now let’s dig into the piece.

The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s a nice short little piece.  So it shouldn’t take too long to memorize the song.

This piece consists of 2 sections that each repeat.  This is known as binary form.

Section 1 of the song is in 8th position while section 2 is in 10th position.  Let’s dig a little deeper into this…

In one of my previous posts, I explained how fret-hand positioning works.  If you haven’t read it, or need a quick review, read it here and come back:

Guitar Scale Lesson: How to Read Guitar Scale Diagrams

Now that you understand that scale fingerings are based on the concept of one finger per fret, I can explain the fingering used for this Bach piece.

In section one of this song (measures 1-4), you are in 8th position.  This means that your first finger will play any notes found on the 8th fret.  Your second finger will play notes found on the 9th fret.  Your third finger will play notes on the 10th fret.  And your pinky or 4th finger, will play notes on the 11th fret.

Now there is some stretching involved.  So what happens is your first finger actually performs double duty.  Your first finger will also stretch one fret lower to the 7th fret and play any notes found there.

So lets do a quick recap of the fingering:

So now all you do is play through the first section of this song and simply apply the fingering principles shown above.

In section two of this song you move up to the tenth fret.  Your first finger will play notes on the 10th fret.  Your second finger will play notes on the 11th fret.  Your third finger will play notes on the 12th fret. Your fourth finger has double duty in this section so it will play any notes found on the 13th and 14th frets.

So there you go.  You now know which fingers you need to use.  Other than that, the piece is pretty straight forward.

Here is the audio for the piece:

Bach Bourree II for Guitar

(Depending on your Internet connection speed, it may take a short while to load the audio)

Have fun with this song and have a great Labour Day Weekend!

About Don J MacLean

Don J. MacLean is one of the world's leading authorities on accelerated learning systems for guitar—with students using his methods in more than 50 countries worldwide. Don is the author of over 60 books including The World of Scales, the Absolute Essentials of Music Theory for Guitar, How I Got Killer Guitar Chops While I Was Still in High School: Confessions of a High School Shredder, 21 Secrets to Learn any Guitar Song Super-Fast, and Guitar Essentials: Chord Master Expanded Edition.

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