Chasmac is a semi-retired guitar teacher who has taught in various schools in London and elsewhere for over 30 years.
This easy classical guitar study by the 18th/19th-century guitar virtuoso and composer Ferdinando Carulli is one of the most popular among classical guitar students of beginner to pre-intermediate standard. It's not only easy to play, it sounds impressive, too.
You can see (and hear) the score in the video capsule. View it full screen, preferably at 1080HD playback quality. You can see the notation and tab underneath the video, too.
F. Carulli: Andantino No.1 - Opus 241
Andantino—Study Notes for Learners
This piece is from Carulli's famous Guitar Method ("Opus 241") and is an etude or study. An etude is a piece of music composed to enable a student to focus on a particular aspect of guitar technique using real music rather than boring exercises. This particular etude provides practice in arpeggio technique - using thumb and fingers in quick succession across the strings to form the chords and melody.
There are four sections: A, B, C & D. Each section is eight bars long, but it is immediately repeated, making them each sixteen bars long. At the end of section D, the D.C. al fine sign means go back to the start and play through, without any further repeats, until you come to the 'fine' sign, which signals the end of the piece. The playing order of sections is:
- A A B B C C D D A B
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If you're familiar with arpeggio or fingerstyle patterns, this should be no problem. The bass notes have downward pointing note-stems and are played with your thumb. The upper notes are the melody and harmony and are played with the most natural finger order, i.e., index, middle and ring. The curve sign above the first two notes (and elsewhere) is a pull-off.
Timing and Tempo
The Time signature is 24 'two-four' meaning two quarter note beats per bar. Most of the notes are sixteenth notes so most bars have eight of them. Count each bar as 1 e & a 2 e & a and choose a tempo (playing speed) that you're comfortable with and can keep consistent from start to finish.
Key and Chords
The principal key is A minor, and the chords are mostly A minor, the home or tonic chord, and E or E7, the dominant chord. You can think of the dominant chord as the polar opposite of the tonic chord, and that's what this piece is based on, i.e., alternating between the tonic and dominant chords. The first section focuses more on the tonic chord, A minor; the second section focuses more on the dominant chord E7. The A minor chord does appear in the second section but the bass note is a constant E under it which keeps our focus more on the dominant. Towards the end of the B section, though, the dominant gives way and resolves to the tonic chord A minor - the natural chord to end on.
Sections C and D are in the relative major key of C major and, like the A & B sections, Section C focuses on the new tonic chord C major, while section D focuses on the new dominant chord, G major (and G7).
Like many easy classical guitar etudes, the chords are often implied rather than played in full. In the chord chart above, chord tones in parenthesis aren't included but are implied.
A C E
Tonic of A minor
E G# B D
Dominant of A minor
D F (A)
Subdominant of A minor
C E G
Tonic of C major
G major (G7)
G B D (F)
Dominant of C major
Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841) was a virtuoso guitarist, gifted composer and also had a reputation as an inspiring teacher. His published guitar teaching method was very successful, and many of the easy classical guitar studies and other works composed by Carulli are still popular today among guitar students. Read more about Carulli on Wikipedia.
More Easy Classical Guitar Pieces
"Easy Classical Guitar" is a series of articles here on my author profile that contain simple pieces in standard notation, guitar tablature and audio with study notes for learners. They are grouped (along with steel string fingerstyle guitar arrangements).
You can find other entries in my profile. There are guitar pieces by Carulli, Giuliani, Sor, Aguado and Tarrega, plus guitar transcriptions of compositions by Bach, Beethoven and Dowland. For fingerstyle guitarists, there are arrangements of traditional folk songs such as Greensleeves and Scarborough Fair.
The music is composed by Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841) and is in the Public Domain.
Cover image, score and audio track are produced by chasmac on Photoshop, Finale and Goldwave.
© 2014 Chas Mac
Chas Mac (author) from UK on November 02, 2014:
Thanks for your comment, Dressage Husband. Yes, I agree, Carulli's compositions, especially his easy classical guitar etudes, are a great introduction to classical guitar playing.
Stephen J Parkin from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada on November 02, 2014:
Carrulli is an excellent starting place for budding classical guitarists!