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Easy Classical Guitar Lesson: Waltz in A by Carulli in Tab, Notation and Audio

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Chasmac is a semi-retired guitar teacher who has taught in various schools in London and elsewhere for over 30 years.

Here's a simple classical guitar piece by the famous 19th-century guitar composer Ferdinando Carulli that I've recorded and written out in tab and notation. Technically, it's well within the reach of beginner classical and fingerstyle guitarists (although not complete beginners). Any guitarist who can use their fingers instead of a pick, and who has at least a few months of playing experience, should manage it with no problem.

It's in the key of A major, which makes the bass very easy. It's just the open 6th, 5th & 4th strings, played with your thumb. The chords are simple shapes based on A, D & E7, and the melody goes no higher than fret 5 of the first string.

There are three sections. Each section ends in repeat marks (the double dots) and the piece is played as follows:

  1. Section A is played twice.
  2. Section B is played twice.
  3. Section C is played twice, and the 'DC al fine sign' (which you ignore first time through) sends you back to the start.
  4. Section A is then played once.
  5. Section B is played once, and the 'fine' sign (which you also ignore first and second times through) means you've reached the end.

The recording is quite old and there's a difference of bass notes in section B as it came from a different arrangement. The bass is alternating between E and A. The written version here keeps the bass all on the low E note. It's a better effect as the repeated bass note E is heard as a 'drone' or 'pedal'. I assume it's more authentic too and it was the effect that Carulli had intended.

Waltz in A by F Carulli


Just keep a fast triple-beat feel throughout for the best effect. It's called a waltz because it's in triple time (3/8 in this arrangement), but it's not very 'danceable' at this tempo. Solo guitar music was listened to, not danced to, so the speed can be faster than the optimal speed for a waltz. Guitar concerts tended to be small and intimate affairs as the guitar wasn't a very loud instrument at that stage of its development. Think 19th century Paris salons as that's where he became a celebrity among the social elite of the time - and this type of guitar music was in demand.

As well as performing, Carulli had many students, and that's why he composed lots of simple pieces like this one, in addition to his much larger-scale works. In fact this piece is from his 'teaching method' Opus 27 (or its later revision - Opus 241) published in 1810.

More Classical/Fingerstyle Pieces to Try

The Skye Boat Song - A guitar arrangement of the famous traditional Scottish melody.


Waltz in A (opus 241 No.5) is by Ferdinando Carulli (1770-1841) and is in the Public Domain.

The score, audio and images are by chasmac.

© 2012 Chas Mac