Performing Heinrich Biber's Mystery sonatas on solo guitar, and principles for arranging early Baroque solo sonatas
This is a solo guitar transcription of the first five movements, known as the "Joyous Mysteries," of the Mystery Sonatas by Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, accompanied by a history of the sonata collection, an analysis of the process of translating a Baroque solo sonata to the guitar, and a guide for performance. The work was chosen because of its significance and popularity within violin repertoire, and the suitability of the solo sonata genre for performance on a guitar. The first section of this project addresses the history and appeal of Biber and the Mystery Sonatas. It is supplemented by a brief survey of guitar transcriptions of Biber's compositions, and the value of the present edition in modern guitar literature. The second section explores the process and challenges of arranging the Mystery Sonatas for solo guitar, followed by a summation of the general allowances and limitations the genre offers to arrangers. The third section focuses on performance practice issues encountered in adapting this series and other Baroque solo sonatas to the guitar. The project concludes with the arrangement, complemented with the original violin and continuo parts for comparison.
Although instrumentations may force an arranger to impose speculative harmonies and countermelodies on a thin texture or sacrifice inner voices in a denser texture, the solo sonata's instrumentation of melody and continuo provides an effective balance. This style allows an arranger three important details: a clear and paramount melody, a flexible bass line, and harmonies with unspecified voicings. Similarly, the compositional freedom that Baroque composers allowed to performers also facilitates the arranging process and enables a variety of creative solutions.