Bach’s English Suites for MIDI

About These MIDI files

These are Bach’s six English Suites (BWV 806-811) transcribed for MIDI. I have ignored grace notes and arpeggios. First I created versions without even ornaments and those are available here too. (I used mainly these notes for guidance on ornaments.) I have included no interpretation except for a few crude final rallentandos where badly needed.

I have set the tempo mainly to Gould speed. There is one deliberate misinterpretation of tie lines starting in measures 47 and 147 of the Bourrée of Suite I. I have become fond of my form. I consulted only Henle Verlag’s “Englische Suiten”. (Now here.)
I transcribed these into MIDI form about 1994 using the Performer software on a Macintosh, obviously not in real time but “step” time as provided by that software. The MIDI note durations are from the score. The only tempo adjustments are a few rallentandos which are done by MIDI meta events. The files are MIDI format 1; left and right hands remain distinct—suitable for various further adaptations.

I debugged while listening to them on a Casio FZ-1 with a harpsichord voice—often comparing with Gould’s recordings. The files were produced by Performer’s “Save as Standard MIDI File” option with expanded loops. Performer can perform them and I hope other packages can as well. Subsequently I have processed these files with several of the programs mentioned below. Please let me know if you have problems. You can reach me (Norm Hardy) by e-mail at norm at cap-lore.com or by phone at +1 650 851 2582. I would also like to hear of bugs or improvements.

More recently (2006) I have written a program to compare MIDI files (see below) and have used it to compare my files with Gary Bricault’s MIDI transcriptions. This has led to the discovery several more bugs in just the first two of my files. This is a pretty good estimate for the expected number of remaining bugs.

The Files
In one
MIDI file
In individual
MIDI files
In one
MIDI file
Ornaments
In individual
MIDI files
Ornaments
II II
IIII IIII
IIIIII IIIIII
IVIV IVIV
VV VV
VIVI VIVI

Playing MIDI on the Mac with Garage Band 6 and Garage Band 10.

Some MIDI Software

Here is a MIDI file concatenating program for a Unix or Mac OS X platform. It produced the files named “all.mid” in each of the directories given below.

The files in this directory are a motley collection of C programs to manipulate MIDI files. Here are some simple routines to make many simple MIDI tasks easy to program.


Dave’s English Suites; See this improvisational system. good stuff!, especially this.
Sheet Music. Bach Works: English Suites: First Suite; Goldberg; MusiScore
Massive collection of MIDI Bach, More Bach; Wonderful Chorale
Excellent collection with channel separation., Gary Bricault, Very interesting, Midi group, unexplored, Mutopia, Check out the French suites here. The Piano Society, An Improved Keyboard; Barlow’s Musical Themes, Open Bach, Optical Sheet Music to MIDI, On my short list of 20th century works