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"Fernando Sor": Classical Guitar Study in D - in Standard Notation and Guitar Tab

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

Fernando Sor - Study in D

Fernando Sor - Study in D

Study in D by Fernando Sor is a melodic classical guitar piece that is very popular and well worth learning. It's no.17 from his Opus 35, which, despite being titled "24 very easy exercises," contains pieces that aren't all that easy. This particular study is around grade 4 level of the guitar exams that are set in the UK for classical guitar students. Grade 4 is classed as "lower intermediate" level.

The video contains the score in standard notation, and a guitar tab shown directly underneath. It displays line by line in time with an audio recording playing in the background. If the display is unclear or too small, view it in full screen mode with a high playback-quality setting.

You can also view the same score shown below the video. Click on individual staves to enlarge them if they're small to see clearly on whatever device you're viewing them on.

For offline viewing of the whole score on one page or for printing it out, you can download the free PDF version using the link below the score.

PDF file

Download Sor's Study in D as a free PDF file for offline viewing and printing.

Sor: Study in D - Learners' Notes

The main point of this study is to give you practice in controlling the duration of the bass notes. They're not meant to be left to ring out like typical arpeggio studies. They should be stopped by your thumb. That can be left until you have some fluency in playing it, though, as it can be quite tricky to focus on controlling the bass notes while playing the other notes.

The other main difficulty lies in the barred chord shapes that you sometimes have to hold. There are some chromatic notes, such as E sharp, that are unusual in simpler pieces in the key of D. That means you should expect some unfamiliar chord shapes.


Fretting-hand fingering is shown where needed. Picking-hand fingering isn't shown, but it's in typical arpeggio style using your thumb (p) for bass notes and your i, m & a fingers where they most naturally fall. See the chart for classical guitar fingering if you don't already know it.

Use rest-stroke on the upper melody notes to bring them out more clearly. Rest stroke, (also called 'apoyando') in case you don't know, is where the finger plucks the string and comes to rest on the adjacent string above. It has a more dynamic sound due to having to exert more pressure on the string to continue through to the next one. It's ideal for adding extra volume to the melody notes only.

Classical guitar fingering

Classical guitar fingering

Key and Chords

The key is D major, so the two-sharp (F# & C#) key signature is employed to indicate the raising of all F and C notes on any staff lines or spaces reserved for those notes. The closely related (dominant) key of A major is also featured several times. It makes its first brief appearance in bar 4. There are several hints at other keys, too, achieved by the use of chromatic chords.

The chord chart shows the chord tones of the most important chords.

As the key is D major, the chord D major is the tonic chord. It starts and ends the piece with the required feeling of homecoming.

A major is the dominant chord and also the tonic chord when the piece modulates to A major. The first modulation (key change) is at bar 4.

G major is the subdominant chord in the key of D major. In its first appearance in this piece it leads nicely to E7 just by changing one note (G to G#) in bar 3.

E7 is a secondary dominant chord - meaning it's the dominant chord of a different key. In this case it's the dominant of A major - in other words, it's the 'dominant of the dominant'. It is used to effect the brief key change to A major.

Other out-of-key chords appear either as a way of hinting at a new key centre (e.g., B7 leading to E minor) or to provide an unexpected tonal contrast (e.g., D minor and A minor).

The principal chords of Sor's Study in D

ChordChord TonesFunction

D major

D F# A

Tonic (home)

A major

A C# E

Dominant (leading home in D maj) or the tonic of A major

G major




E G# B D

Secondary dominant (to A major)

Fernando Sor

Fernando Sor (1778-1839) was a Spanish guitarist and composer from Barcelona who contributed a large volume of guitar compositions to the classical guitar repertoire, His output ranges from easy classical guitar studies to technically challenging works such as his 'Variations on a Theme of Mozart'. You can read more about Fernando Sor.

© 2014 Chas Mac