Chasmac is a semi-retired guitar teacher who has taught in various schools in London and elsewhere for over 30 years.
Study in A minor by Fernando Sor is an easy classical guitar piece that beginners with a few months of classical or fingerstyle guitar experience can play without any problem. As Sor was also a guitar teacher, he composed a lot of music with his students in mind from beginners to advanced. This one is easy and enjoyable to play and hear.
You can follow the guitar tab or standard notation in the video while listening to an audio version of the piece. Using a high-quality playback setting in full-screen mode will ensure a crisp and clear display. As the audio track is machine-generated from the score, it will inevitably be a bit machine-like, but it still lets you hear how it should sound.
If you want to get down and actually study and memorise the piece, use the score underneath the video. It's the same score but you can see it in full rather than line by line as it appears in the video. You can also magnify any part of the score by clicking on it.
Study in A Minor: Learners' Notes
The song has several sections, all of which are repeated. The repeat markings will keep you right as far as playing the sections in the right order is concerned. The D.C. al fine sign at the end means go back to the beginning and play, without any more repeats, until you reach the term 'fine' in bar 16, which indicates the end of the study.
The time signature is 'six-eight' meaning each bar or measure contains two main beats, each of which is worth a dotted quarter note in duration, and in this piece means that most bars will be filled with six eighth notes (three per dotted quarter note beat).
What makes this an easy classical guitar piece is that it's all played within the first position of the fretboard, and the fingering is very straightforward. Picking-hand fingering suggestions are shown in just the first couple of bars, and you can choose your own. Try to follow the golden rule of classical guitar playing, which is that your picking-hand fingers should be alternated wherever possible or practical. It makes for increased fluency.
A minor (A C E)
E7 (E G# B D)
F major (F A C)
C major (C E G)
G major ( G B D)
A major (A C# E)
E7 (E G# B D)
B7 (B D# F# A)
Key and chords
There are two keys used. The main key, as the title suggests, is A minor. The other key is A major and is introduced by the change of key signature at bar 17. Don't forget to sharp all F, C and G notes, and don't forget to abandon that key after the D.C. al fine instruction sends you back to the start where the key is once again, A minor, with no sharps or flats.
The chord structure in this piece is very simple, and in many cases, they are only implied because some unnecessary chord tones are omitted. It's based around the two most important chords of each key. The two most important chords of any key are the ones built on the first note (degree) of the scale, called the tonic, and the 5th degree of the scale, called the dominant. In both keys, those 1st and 5th scale notes are A and E, respectively.
The tonic chord is the chord that feels like home and the dominant chord is the one that makes you want to return home (musically speaking of course). The subtonic chord, (bar 13) which is built on the 7th note of the scale of A natural minor is G. Its job here is to lead to the mediant chord, C major, and treat it as a brief and temporary tonic of the key of C major (the relative major key of A minor) which then, in similar fashion, leads to the subdominant chord (the one built on the 4th scale degree) in bar 14. That, in turn, leads to the dominant chord E major which brings us back home to A minor.
The secondary dominant, B7, in bar 31, leads to the true dominant, E, which again sets us up for a return to the tonic, A major.
Fernando Sor (1778-1839) was a virtuoso guitarist and composer from Barcelona in Spain. He is one of the most important names in the classical guitar repertoire and many of his works are popular among classical guitar students. You can learn more about Fernando Sor on Wikipedia.
The music is composed by Fernando Sor (1778-1839) and is in the Public Domain.
The score, audio track and images are by chasmac and produced on Finale, Goldwave and Photoshop.
The article text is by chasmac.
© 2014 chasmac