We’re just starting to get into Grade 3 level music on this channel, so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to make a Minuet in G tutorial. This piece is in Bach’s Anna Magdalena Notebook, though he didn’t write it – a guy named Petzold did.
This is one of the pieces featured in “Bach in the Movies”, so if you haven’t seen that video, definitely go check it out!
Minuet in G Tutorial
Minuet in G is an incredibly famous song, and I’d be surprised if you’ve never heard it. We’re going to listen through it in a moment, but first – backstory time!
The Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach (1725) was a collection of music that Bach made for his wife. Some of the pieces were written by him, and others by various composers of the day.
One of those various composers was Christian Petzold, who, like Bach, was a German composer and organist. We actually don’t know much about Petzold or his music – just that he was a great, well-praised organist, and that virtually none of his music exists today.
Save for this minuet, which everyone thought Bach wrote up until 1970.
This minuet is actually compiled as a pair – one in G major (which we’re doing today), and another in G minor. They’re both about the same level of difficulty (RCM/ABRSM grade 3).
Here’s the sheet music from imslp.org.
Let’s play through it, and then talk about details!
I like using the version with fingering – except it doesn’t actually have the fingering in there. So I use the version that says it has the fingering written, and then add the fingering notes from the file below it.
You could also look up the full Notebook for Anna Magdalena and find it in there.
Minuet in G Tutorial
Let’s start by looking at the overarching details of this piece, namely:
What key is it in?
What song form is it written in?
What is a minuet?
To answer the first question, all we have to do is take a look at the key signature. We have one sharp at the beginning. There is only 1 major key, and 1 minor key, with one sharp – either G major, or E minor.
However, we already know the title of the piece – Minuet in G. That makes our job easier!
Throughout the piece, you’ll need to be constantly aware of this F# – make sure that all F’s in this piece are played on the black key!
So now let’s take a look at the second question: What song form is Minuet in G written in?
Looking through the entire page, you can see a pattern. You have this first part, and then a repeat. Then you have a second part, with a repeat. Look familiar?
I hope so, because this is in binary form! We’ve talked about binary form on this channel before, so check it out if you’re not sure what I’m talking about. Basically, it’s the simplest form there is – it’s in two parts. We generally label these parts “section A” and “section B”.
And now, the third question: What is a minuet?
This is an important, though sometimes overlooked, detail. So much information is given to us in this tiny little title – like the key, and the style. We’ve also done a video on minuets, so if you want more details, head there.
But the short of it is this:
Minuets are usually short and sweet, they’re not too fast, they’re rhythmically simple, and are in ¾ time signature. It’s important to know that, since it’ll guide the style in which you play this piece.
Minuet in G tutorial: Ornaments
The next thing to talk about are ornaments. Remember the previous video on ornaments? That’s going to be a helpful reference to us now!
So we have a little zigzag with a line through it, known as a mordent. Then, we have a baby note with a grown-up note, known as an appoggiatura (there’s a video on that too). Finally, at the bottom, we have another mordent, except this time there’s no line through it.
Let’s start with the first mordent, which is a lower mordent. The line running through it is telling us that we need to turn down for this mordent.
Here’s how to play it: Instead of just playing the “C” as written, we need to add a quick little downward turn, like so:
It’s important that we start the turn just before the beat, so that we land on our final (original) C right at the start of beat 1.
Next, we have our little appoggiatura. This looks much scarier than it actually is in reality. Basically what this is telling us is that our main tune – our melody – is the “A”. But we want to play that tiny “B” first as an 8th note to delay the melody.
This just creates some dramatic suspense. You don’t have to play the appoggiatura fast – in fact, please don’t! You just want to play it like a regular 8th note.
And finally, the last mordent of the piece – this time line-free. What this means is we’ll be doing an upper mordent. It’s exactly the same as the first mordents in the piece, except we go up instead.
Our main note is a “B”, so to play this, we simply go:
Remembering to land on that final (original) “B” right on the beat.
Learn without ornaments first
If you’re finding the ornaments tricky at first, I always recommend to learn the piece without them first. That way, you can get a really clear sense of the tune without the ornaments wrecking the shape of the melody.
(Just think about decorating your Christmas tree, if that’s a thing you do. You want light little ornaments. If you put on, say, a bowling ball, the whole tree is going to sag or break. We don’t want that happening to our melody.)
Detached baroque style
Remember that it’s the style in Baroque music to keep a certain amount of detachment in your playing. You generally won’t see left hand slurs in Baroque music, so unless you have notes that are specifically held, it’s a good idea to play them a little detached.
Same goes for the right hand – sometimes slurs are written in Baroque melodies, sometimes not. Use your best judgement when there are no slurs. For instance, it would sound stupid if we played these 8th notes detached, but it sounds great with some broken-up quarter notes.
The exception is in the B section in the left hand, where you have some overlapping notes.
You’ll notice a few spots where a particular note is to be held, while other fingers play the note on top if it. This is a thing we call “finger pedaling”. Let’s take a look at the keyboard.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this Minuet in G tutorial, a tune that – in my opinion – every early intermediate piano player should learn. Definitely be sure to familiarize yourself with the various concepts in this piece, such as Bach, Baroque style and ornamentation.