Bach Organ Transcriptions

David M. Marshall
Joseph Case High School

TI:ME Technology Areas Addressed:

Electronic Musical Instruments


High School


Music Theory


Finale 2004
Electronic Keyboard (Only for real time entry)
MIDI/Sythesizer/Computer Station


3, 45 minute sessions Minutes

Prior Knowledge and Skills:

1. Knowledge of Finale 2004 music notation program.
2. Knowledge of orchestral instrumentation, including play ranges and transpositions.

NAfME Standard of 1994 Addressed:

NAfME Standard of 1994: Performing on instruments, alone and with others, a varied repertoire of music.

NAfME 2014: Performing 

NAfME Standard of 1994: Composing and Arranging Music within specified guidelines.
NAfME Standard of 1994: Reading and notating music.

NAfME 2014: Creating 

NAfME Standard of 1994: Evaluating music and music performances.

NAfME 2014: Responding 


Each student will be supplied a 4-part Bach Organ Fugue and a handout containing instructions and transcription tips for students.


The successful high school music theory student will be able to arrange a 4-part Bach Organ Fugue into standard chamber instrumentations (Saxophone quartet, clarinet choir, brass quintet, string quartet, etc.) using proper key signatures, time signatures, transpositions and ranges for each instrument.


1. Students select a 4-part Bach Organ Fugue of their own choosing.

2. Teacher explains to students that they are to take this 4-part Bach Organ Fugue and transcribe it for a quartet of their choosing. They may choose a quartet from the following list:
Saxophone Quartet
Clarinet Quartet
Woodwind Quartet
Brass Quartet
String Quartet
(Students can adjust the instrumentation within each ensemble)

3. After choosing their small ensemble, students will use Finale 2004 to create the full score for their group.
Students will determine which instruments will match the individual lines in the 4-part Bach Fugue and enter these into the program, using any both real time MIDI keyboard or step, keyboard/mouse method of note entry.

4. Once students have accomplished entering the music, dynamics and articulations into the program, they must now transpose each organ line into the key of the predetermined instrument.

5. Students will then format the page with a title, composer credit, arranger credit, system breaks, etc.

6. Students will extract parts from their arrangements.

7. Students will print out a copy of the parts and score for evaluation.


Students will be evaluated on the effectiveness to include all 4 voices from the original fugue, proficiency in utilizing appropriate transposed key signatures and clefs, ability to reconstruct the melodic lines with in the proper ranges for the transcribed instruments and effectiveness in appropriately utilizing the features of the notation software.

Follow Up:

1. Students can download a midi file into Finale and arrange it.
2. Students can perform their transcriptions in small ensembles.
3. Students can arrange for larger ensembles.


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