Bach Cello Suite No. 1

Hello everyone! In this lesson I would like to talk about something that really helped me a lot, and it will help you to become a better guitarist and to help develop your style.

The Story

A long time ago, I was just starting to play guitar, I was very young, and heavily into Black Sabbath (I still admire them). At the time, Tony Iommi was my idol and Black Sabbath, Dio and Ozzy were the main bands I was listening to and learning from. I remember even wearing a Black Sabbath jacket to church sometimes.

Time went on and I was progressing as a guitarist and still into those bands and was getting into Van Halen as well. I was practicing day and night. One day my brother walked in my room and said, "Check these guys out," and he starting playing tunes from Stevie Ray Vaughan and Al Di Meola, which was a Chick Corea tune that I can't remember. I was blown away by the technique of these guitar players and started listening more to them and was also really into Jimi Hendrix (I still am).

One day my Dad was driving me to school, I was still real young and he was listening to classical music on the radio and I said something like why are we listening to this, it is so slow!

My Dad was a accomplished virtuoso violinist and he used to say that to be a great musician you must listen and to be open to everything. I took my father;s advice and starting listening to classical music, like Paganini, Mozart, Beethoven and many others. Around that time Yngwie and shred was getting really popular and I got crazy into that.

I was taking lessons at the time from a great jazz teacher and I would bring him some of this music to show me how to play it and I would always bring him very crazy, fast stuff. Later my teacher confesses that he really had to practice a lot more at home to keep up with all this stuff I was bringing him. While I was into classical and rock music, I started listening to jazz fusion artists as well.

So, you can see a progression here, listening and learning goes hand in hand. As I was progressing as a guitarist, my music listening progressed. The music can come around full circle over time, and with all these influences your style starts to develop. Even though I like all music, to me I consider it as "just music".

How Can This Help You?

The key is to have an open mind to all kinds of music - and don't always listen to guitar players. Try to listen to other instruments and instrumentalists like drummers, violinists, cellists, piano players, sitar players, etc. Be open to everything and find out who your favorite artists are into. Some of your favorite bands or musicians listen to other types of music and other instruments other than what they play and later they might incorporate it into their style. For example, Allan Holdsworth is a amazing guitarist, and he has a very unique style. It is very evident that he listened to, and still listens to, saxophone players. Another example, take a couple of great guitarists like Randy Rhoads and Yngwie, you can obviously tell they both were influenced by classical music and incorporated it into their style.

Composing music is really important, so I have been writing music since the very beginning. Creating music and composing can help to put everything together that you have been working on to help create your own unique style. There is a process called input and output, input is when you are learning new material and output is when you are composing music. There is a period where I will learn new material, and there is a period when I'm mainly composing music. In addition to composing music, it also very important to play with other musicians. From the very beginning when I started playing guitar, I was always in a band. If you have great musicians in your band, they can add their own touch and influence to your music.

Ok, enough talk, let's start playing!

Here is a excerpt from the "Cello Suite No. 1" by J.S Bach, and it is the prelude that consists mostly of arpeggiated chords in G major. This piece sounds great on guitar even though it is written for cello and I have been playing it off and on for a while. This first section is mainly played in the 2nd position of the guitar, so the fingerings are pretty straightforward (I did add some here and there).

It is very important to start playing this slowly and evenly, and then play it faster with some added dynamics. This piece is pretty easy to play, but it has a nice sound to it that is very recognizable.

MP3 - Bach Cello Suite No. 1, Slow
MP3 - Bach Cello Suite No. 1, Fast


That is it for this lesson! Let me know if you would like more of this piece in the next lesson. Don't forget to visit

Mike Campese is an all-around music performer, session artist and teacher competent in many musical styles, electric and acoustic. He has studied at G.I.T. (Honors Graduate), and with Paul Gilbert, Norman Brown, Stanley Jordan, Scott Henderson and Keith Wyatt.

Mike Campese: The Fire Within

His latest CD is entitled "The Fire Within", brand new for 2018.

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