Chasmac is a semi-retired guitar teacher who has taught in various schools in London and elsewhere for over 30 years.
Waltz no. 1 in C by Carulli
Here's a simple classical guitar piece by the 19th-century composer Ferdinando Carulli, which I've arranged in standard notation and guitar tablature. It's around grade 1 level of difficulty if you're familiar with the grading system used in the UK and elsewhere by ABRSM (the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music). If not, then it just means it's very easy.
Score and Audio
The video contains the audio recording with the score displayed line by line as the music progresses.
The audio quality is typical kitchen-table studio quality—hissy and unbalanced—but it's good enough to let you hear how the piece sounds if you have difficulty reading the notation.
The score is also displayed below the video if you need it to be static while you study it.
Playing and Theory Notes for Learners
The whole piece is played within the first position of the guitar fretboard; every note is reachable within the first three frets and many of the notes are played on open strings.
For notation readers, the notes with upward-pointing stems are melody notes, and some extra harmony notes are placed underneath certain melody notes.
The notes with downward pointing stems are bass notes, which, in most cases, sound throughout the whole bar or measure.
The reason for the doubled notes on the first beat of several bars is that the note is considered part of the melody as well as the bass. You only play it once but allow it to sound until the end of the bar while you play the melody notes on beats 2 and 3. Tab readers won't be confused by this as it's not shown as doubled in the tab.
Metre and Time Signature
As it's a waltz, the metre is 'simple triple', meaning three beats per bar with an emphasis on the first beat of each bar. I've chosen quarter notes to represent the beat, so the time signature is 'three four', i.e., three quarter note beats per bar. You can also find this piece written with a three-eight time signature. I don't know which note length Carulli originally chose, but it doesn't matter; it sounds exactly the same whether it's notated in three-four or three-eight time.
Read More From Spinditty
A common learners' mistake is to assume that three-four is slower than three-eight. It's not. The speed of the music is determined by the tempo (beats per minute), not the time signature. No tempo indication is shown, so it's up to you how fast or slow you want to play it. The tempo I chose for the recording is around 180 beats per minute (BPM).
Playing Order of the Sections
There are three musical sections (A, B & C). Each section is eight bars long and is enclosed by repeat signs (the double dots). So each section is repeated once before moving on to the next one. The D.C. al fine instruction at the end of section C then sends you back to the beginning of the A section where you play through without any more repeats until you reach the word fine, at the end of the B section, which marks the end of the piece.
D.C. is an Italian abbreviation for Da Capo, meaning "from the head (or start)"
al fine is another Italian abbreviation meaning "to the end".
As you can hear in the recording, the section layout is A A B B C C A B.
Key and Chord Analysis
None of the following is actually necessary to know in order to play the piece, but it's always good to understand how a composition is put together, and you might learn some music theory while you're at it. You can ignore it if you want.
The key, as the title already makes clear, is C major. The three sections (A, B & C) all stay in key, but each focuses on a different chord of the key. Other chords are included in each section but in a secondary role.
Section A focuses on the main or tonic chord, C major. The tonic chord is always the chord that can be found on the first degree of the scale belonging to the key. As this piece is in the key of C major, the chord will be the one built on the first note of the C major scale (CDEFGABC) - i.e., the note C. The chord tones of C major are C, E & G or the 1st, 3rd & 5th notes (scale degrees) of the C major scale. The note that is the 5th of a major chord (and others) can be omitted without affecting the chord's quality.
Section B focuses on the dominant chord G7. The dominant chord, or in this case, the dominant 7th chord, is the one that is built on the 5th degree of the scale belonging to the key. So, that's the 5th note of C major, which is G. The chord tones of G7 are G, B, D & F. Focusing on the dominant chord causes a build up of tension that is released when the dominant chord, G7, resolves to the tonic, confirming that the key is still unmistakably C major. In some bars, the root note G is missing, which, technically, makes the chord B diminished. It has the same dominant function as G7.
Section C focuses on the submediant chord, A minor. The submediant chord is always the one built on the 6th degree of the scale, which is the note A in this case. The chord tones are A, C & E. Although there's no actual key change here, there's a hint of one. The chord that I've marked as E7 in the chord chart is only implied. The chord tone G# is missing from it, so it's not a complete E7, but because of how the music is put together, it invites us to mentally supply that note and subconsciously feel that A minor has a quality more important than it otherwise deserves. If Carulli had used a G# in that section, the key would easily have changed to the relative minor key: A minor. But he didn't - so it doesn't. He kept it vague and subtle, which allows for an easy transition back to the real key and it's tonic chord chord, C major, at the start of the piece.
Ferdinando Carulli (1770 - 1841) was a highly influential Italian guitar composer, performer and teacher from Naples. His 'Method for Guitar', published in 1810, became a highly successful tuition resource for guitar students, and many of the pieces composed for it are still popular among classical guitarists and guitar students today.
More Easy Classical Guitar Pieces
I hope you have enjoyed playing this piece. If so, here are some more pieces to try. They're in a similar format to this one, i.e., with tab, notation, audio and study notes.
- Waltz in A by Carulli: another easy waltz from the same collection.
- Kemp's Jig: an anonymous 17th-century dance piece with a courtly olde worlde charm
- Etude in Am: a well known and easy to play guitar piece by the guitar composer Giuliani
Questions & Answers
Question: Why is the chord in the 2nd bar of section A used as B dim and not D minor?
Answer: Well spotted! As it's not a complete chord, I felt it implied a dominant effect such as G7 or B dim, but you're right, D minor is a better choice, so I'll change those in section A.
© 2014 Chas Mac