Monophonic violin pieces, translatable to guitar

Edited: July 16, 2017, 6:13 AM · Hi everyone,

I have to come to ask for suggestions of monophonic violin pieces that may be translatable to guitar.

Here are two examples of music I have found that works (can be translated in terms of fingering) for a flat pick and acoustic guitar. These are my arrangements, and some of you may be right in saying that the Paganini for example cannot sing on guitar the way it can on violin (no contest):


I have found that certain violin music consisting of a single melody line only, with the occasional thirds, fifths, or sixth double stops (not many though) can work well on guitar. I need your help to discover repertoire from composers I may not have considered.

Here is what I am aware of:

-Some of the Bach violin partitas and sonatas work well on guitar
-Select Paganini does work, but if it is too "Cantabile" in nature the guitar falls flat with its lack of sustain and "voice quality." I did an arrangement of "polacca con variazioni" that I am working on recording sometime soon.
-I found two Handel pieces that I have recorded in the video above. Any others?
-A few Wieniawski pieces do work (The hop for example), but some are far too out of range and do not work practically. Even if you practice them a lot on guitar, the music that was in them becomes lost.

What can work well on guitar and be translatable to guitar is monophonic melodies, not too slow (sustain on guitar is less than violin), and is in the keys of E, A, D, G, C, Am, Em, Bm, or Dm (Generally speaking). I would like any and all suggestions as I am looking to expand outwards from just Paganini and Bach. The best way to do this would be to ask violinists for their suggestions.

For example, did any other composer write duets for violin and guitar besides Paganini and Giuliani? Ones specifically in the same format which is, short with simple chordal accompaniment accompanied by solo melody?

Thanks in advance.

Replies (7)

July 16, 2017, 8:04 AM · I would guess Boccherini Minuet would sound nice on guitar. I think it was typical for Baroque era composers to not use as many sustained notes.

You might want to check out Mozart particular piano/violin sonatas since piano has a similarity with guitar when it comes to sustained notes.

Edited: July 16, 2017, 8:44 AM · I believe Bach's 5th Suite for the cello was originally written for the lute, so should be playable on the classical guitar. The Bach Chaconne performs magnificently on the guitar (in the right hands of course!)

Paganini was the eminent guitarist of his day, so he knew all about writing for the guitar, as we know from his numerous duets for violin and guitar, virtually all of which have been recorded by Luigi Bianchi and Maurizio Preda on 9 CDs.

The "Perigordino" in Ewan's second clip is based on an ancient Ligurian dance of French origin. The solo violin version sometimes gets played in sessions under the name "The Swift", perhaps because it recalls the swooping flight of that bird. Folk and other popular music were sources for many of Paganini's duets. It is possibly the only one of Paganini’s 36 "Lucca" sonatas that has a specific name, the others having the usual Adagio, Allegro, etc.

Edited: July 16, 2017, 12:07 PM · Hello Trevor,

Yes, I have heard before that Paganini's "Lucca Sonatas" have a folk song theme as the second movement in some cases. Do you have any specific examples of this (other than The Swift)? The one that comes to mind for me, is the second movement of the first Lucca Sonata, this one:

The Andantino of the above video sounds "French" to me, maybe I am mistaken.

What I would really like to get, is a massive fake book of folk song melodies that were popular during the time of Paganini, so I could possibly try to write variations of my own. Does such a thing exist? It would be interesting to identify which folk songs appear in specific movements of the Lucca Sonatas.

As for the Lucca Sonatas sheet music, I have Opera I, II, IV, V and VI... which are M.S. 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13. I would like to find M.S. 133 and M.S. 134 if anyone has them.. they are VERY rare.

Edited: July 17, 2017, 12:51 AM · He did not make them himself but there are arrangements of Pablo de Sarasate for violin and guitar.

Spanish Dances for Violin and Guitar
Romanza Andaluza for Violin and Guitar
Malagueña for violin and guitar
Zapateado for violin and guitar
Zigeunerweisen for Violin and Guitar

Not sure if it is exactly what you are looking for but these pieces are based on folk Spanish dances.

July 17, 2017, 3:30 AM · Lots of guitar arrangements for Vivaldi and Telemann works out there. For guitar-violin duets, look for tunes by Celso Machado, Astor Piazzolla, etc.
July 17, 2017, 7:48 AM · Adding to what Trevor said about the Bach Chaconne: There is a transcription by Andres Segovia that I played back when I was playing classical guitar. It's pretty much note-for-note except for the bariolage passages which Segovia made more "guitaristic." It's possible to take the violin music for Bach's Sonatas and Partitas and simply write in guitar fingerings, and make as few alterations as are technically possible. That's what I was attempting to do years ago before I gave up on the project and switched to violin.
August 2, 2017, 5:43 PM · When I was an undergrad, one of my fellow students used to play a vinyl of Segovia playing the bourrée from the 3rd 'Cello Suite.

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