Chasmac is a semi-retired guitar teacher who has taught in various schools in London and elsewhere for over 30 years.
This is a very easy classical guitar piece by the renowned 19th-century Spanish guitarist and composer Fernando Sor. It's the first and easiest piece in his famous 24-composition guitar method called "Introduction to the study of guitar" or "Introduction a l' etude de la Guitare," to give it its original French title. It's definitely a beginners' piece.
As you can see in the score below, it's only sixteen bars long and is in two eight-bar sections, both of which are repeated. You can also hear in the video capsule an audio version converted from the software-generated MIDI file. It's a bit mechanical sounding but for beginners, it gives you an idea of how it should sound if your sight reading skills aren't quite there yet, or if you're going to be reading from the guitar tablature staff under the notation staff. If you click on the score it will open in the gallery—large and clear.
Fernando Sor: Opus 60 No.1
The score is also shown in the video. If it's not clear on your screen make sure that you use the highest playback quality that you're viewing device offers. The recording quality is 1080HD, so try to match that if possible. If you're not sure where the playback quality control is, see the picture at the side. That same control also lets you slow the video down. It ruins the sound quality, but at least you can hear some things that may not be clear to you at normal speed.
How to Play Opus 60 no.1
If you're familiar with the graded guitar exams given by examining boards such as the UK-based Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM), or Trinity College of Music, then this piece would definitely qualify no higher than grade 1, the lowest grade they have. It might not even make grade 1 - that's how easy it is.
This piece is in binary form meaning it has two sections, A & B. When you figure in the repeats, the playing plan is A A B B. Section A starts in the home key of C major and modulates (changes key) to G major in bar 8. Section B starts in the key of C major, which it stays in until the last note. You can read more about the harmonic structure further on if you're interested (consider it a theory lesson) - or ignore it if you're not.
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Fretting-hand fingering is shown in several places that might be helpful and the fingering advocated by Sor himself is also included. There are no picking-hand fingering suggestions in the original, but the general rule in classical guitar arrangements is to use your thumb (p) for notes below the third string, and to alternate fingers (i, m, a) on the upper strings, even when consecutive notes are played on the same string. In the preface notes to this teaching method, Sor also places importance on minimising fretting-hand finger movement for greater efficiency. He advises keeping fingers held down even after the note just played has finished sounding. Eliminating unnecessary finger movement increases fluency of playing.
C E G
G major (G7)
G B D (F)
Dominant (7th) (leading home
D F# A C
Secondary Dominant 7th (key change)
D F A
Key and chords
Most classical guitar music is written in at least two voices or parts: melody and bass. Harmony notes (chord tones) can be combined with either the melody or bass part as appropriate or convenient. In this very simple piece, however, Sor has used just one part and cleverly arranged it to include melody, bass and chord tones. Look at the melodic leap in bar 7 between the low D and the upper F#. The D is performing a bass role, and the F# is performing a melodic role, and both together are performing a harmony role by outlining the root and major 3rd of the chord D7.
The key is C major with a brief modulation to G major. The chords are implied by the melodic use of chord tones throughout, and it's only in the final bars of each section that we can see the notes played together making the chords G major (bar 8) and C major (bar 16).
Look at bar 3. There are three chord tones (C, E & G), which make the chord C major. The D note is just a passing tone. In bar 7, the chord tones, A, C, D & F# make the chord D7. This chord is foreign to the key of C major as it contains the note F#, and that's what caused the change of key to G major. Although D7 is foreign to the key of C major, it's not foreign to the key that Sor wants to change to: G major. It's the dominant chord of G major, in fact, and in this context it's called a secondary dominant because we're not actually in the key of G major yet.
More Easy Classical Guitar Pieces to Try
Waltz in G - an easy classical guitar Waltz by a friend and contemporary of Fernando Sor, Dionisio Aguado.
Opus 241 Andante - This is a simple but interesting piece from Ferdinando Carulli's famous teaching Method.
The music featured in this article is by Fernando Sor (1778- 1839) and is in the Public Domain.
The score, audio track and images are produced by chasmac.
© 2015 Chas Mac