Chasmac is a semi-retired guitar teacher who has taught in various schools in London and elsewhere for over 30 years.
This piece is the first of Mauro Giuliani's "Papillon" collection of 32 easy classical guitar compositions. In terms of technical difficulty, it's around grade 2 (of 8), using the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music's (ABRSM) criterion for grading classical guitar music. It's what they use for selecting pieces in their guitar exams held throughout the UK and elsewhere.
The Score and Audio
You can click the YouTube video to see the notated and tabbed music line by line while listening to the score-generated audio track (MIDI converted to audio). Check your YouTube settings for the best quality setting. You can also see the music written out below the video. Each line of the score can be enlarged by clicking on it.
Mauro Giuliani's "Opus 50 No. 1" Standard Notation and Guitar Tablature
Study Notes for Learners
The form of Giuliani's "Opus 50 No.1" is "theme and variations". It starts with a simple 16-bar harmonised melody followed in section 2 by the same melody accompanied with a more rhythmically decorated harmony part underneath. Giuliani used this form for many of his compositions.
I haven't put fingering information in the standard notation, as the tab makes it clear which fingers to use, but see the following:
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Like many easy classical guitar compositions, Giuliani's "Opus 50, No.1" is played in the 1st position of the guitar fretboard throughout the whole piece and no note is located higher than the 3rd fret. The fretting-hand fingering should be the standard 1st position fingering:
- Notes on fret 1 are played by finger 1.
- Notes on fret 2 are played by finger 2.
- Notes on fret 3 are played by finger 3.
However, all upper melody notes that fall on fret 3 can be played with your 4th finger instead of your 3rd if you find it easier. This is even necessary in bar 14 where your 3rd finger is needed to play the F bass note on string 4, while your 4th finger plays the D melody note above it on fret 3 of the 2nd string.
The picking-hand fingering is also straightforward. Play all notes on the 4th, 5th and 6th strings with your thumb and whichever finger is most convenient for the upper melody notes but always try to alternate fingers for the upper notes. This is especially important when it comes to the decorated part, always play those repeated notes with alternating index (i) and middle (m) fingers: i m i m, etc. Avoiding using the same finger twice in succession is a standard classical guitar technique that promotes greater fluency.
For example, look at bar 17. The thumb (p) plays the low E while your middle finger (m) plays the upper C. Then play the three repeated G notes with i m i. Then the low and upper C are played with p and m and the final G is played with i.
- p/m - i - m - i - p/m - i |p/m, etc,
This sets you up nicely for the next bar with p and i—so there's no awkwardness involved from using the same finger twice in a row.
The key is C major throughout, but there's a hint of the relative minor key, A minor, due to the chromatically altered note, G#, leading to the note, A in bars 13 and 29. The succeeding bars soon cancel that effect and reconfirm C major as the true key. Hinting at a key change without actually following it through is called tonicisation.
Timing and Tempo
The metre (beat grouping) is 'simple triple time' and notated with a three-four time signature. Choose a tempo at which you can play the second section comfortably and make that the tempo for both sections. In other words, resist the temptation to play the easy first part too fast or there will be a disappointingly noticeable slow-down when you get to section 2—the fast part.
Mauro Giuliani was an Italian guitar composer and performer. He was born in 1781 in Bisceglie and died in Naples in 1829. He composed over 150 works for guitar and is one of the most important names in classical guitar studies. In addition to highly complex and technically demanding guitar concertos, he wrote a lot of easy classical guitar pieces that are accessible to beginner classical guitar students.
© 2014 Chas Mac