Bourree in E minor - Online Classical Guitar Lesson


Johann Sebastian Bach wrote many pieces for lute including the Bourrée in E-minor which is especially popular amongst guitarists. It is the fifth movement of the larger work Suite in E-minor BWV 996.  The piece is quite short and it is composed using simple binary form. This allowed me to sneak the entire online classical guitar tutorial into a single and relatively short video!

I first learned this piece many years ago when I was still quite new to the guitar. From memory I learned it going into my second year of guitar study after watching Yngwie Malmsteen play it during a concert on television.

Other well-known guitarists that have used or played Bourree include Leo Kottke and Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. Other famous modern musicians have incorporated Bourree into their live sets or into their recordings. Paul McCartney of The Beatles has remarked that Bourree was an influence on two of their songs - the first being 'Blackbird' and the second being 'Jenny Wren'. As a classical repertoire piece I think it belongs at about the Grade 4 or 5 Trinity College of London exam level and is still often played in concert by many of the world's leading classical guitar virtuosi.  


From a performance point-of-view this is a great example of contrapuntal writing whereby 2 distinct melodic lines play simultaneously. When playing it's important to keep the lines separate where required and not to let one overpower the other. It is very easy to let the bass line overpower the melody because of the strength of the thumb therefore my suggestion is to be gentle with the thumb and to accentuate notes played with the fingers.

 Don't know which fingers to use?

If you are struggling with the fingering for either hand I do suggest purchasing my classical guitar sheet music with tabs which has my suggested fingerings for the left & right-hands here.