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Tárrega's Study in E Minor: Easy Classical Guitar in Standard Notation and Guitar Tab

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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.

Tárrega - Study in E Minor -Guitar Tab and Standard Notation

Tárrega - Study in E Minor -Guitar Tab and Standard Notation

Study in E Minor

Study in E minor by Francisco Tárrega is an easy classical guitar study that is around grade 3 level of the grading system used by various UK guitar examination boards. In other words, it's not for complete beginners, but if you have a year or so of classical guitar or steel-string fingerstyle guitar playing experience, this piece should be no problem for you.

Study in E Minor Video

The video contains the tab and notation along with a software-generated audio demo track to let you hear how it should sound. For a clear display, view it in full screen mode. You can also print the score from the PDF link below.

F, Tarrega - Study in E Minor - tab and notation

F, Tarrega - Study in E Minor - tab and notation

Download Study in E Minor PDF file

Click to download a copy of Tarrega's Study in E Minor as a PDF file for offline viewing and printing.

Classical guitar Fingering labels

Classical guitar Fingering labels

Study in E Minor—Playing Tips for Learners

The piece is in a typical 'two-section' or binary form. Both sections of eight bars are in the key of E minor. G major gets a bit more focus at times but not enough to cause a key change to that key. Each section repeats immediately after it's played.

Timing Matters

The main point of this study is to give you practice in triplet arpeggio patterns. If you're unfamiliar with the term, it means three notes played in the time of two notes of the same duration. The time signature of three quarter-note beats per bar means that every beat is worth a quarter note, but filling the bar with eighth-note triplets means that every beat will consist of three eighth notes instead of the usual two-eighth notes. That's what the three above the triplet groups means. It's only shown for the first bar, but the grouping of the notes throughout the piece indicates that they are still triplets, even without a '3.'


Fretting-hand fingering is shown where I feel it's helpful. Picking-hand fingering is obvious. Use your thumb (p) for all the bass notes and your a, m & i fingers for the descending arpeggio pattern. See the chart showing classical guitar finger designations if you're unfamiliar with the fingering terms. The melody notes are the first note of each group of triplets. Most of them are on the first string so play those with rest stroke to emphasize the melody. Rest stroke is the technique where you pluck the string and let your finger rest on the next string. It has a fuller tone than 'free stroke.'

Above the final chord, the 'harm' sign means it's played as 12th fret natural harmonics.

ChordsChord TonesChord Tones Function

E minor




B D# F# A






D F# A C

Secondary dominant

G major



F# diminished

F# A C


Key and Chords

The key is E minor, so the one-sharp (F#) key signature is used, indicating that all notes on any F line or space are to be played as F#. As the key is minor, the commonly used raised 7th scale note, D#, frequently appears in the score as an accidental.

For those interested in the chord structure of this study, See the chart. The functions are explained below.

  • The Tonic chord, E minor, is the 'home' chord. The one that we feel a need to return to.
  • The dominant chord, B7, is the chord that brings us home to the tonic most forcefully.
  • The secondary dominant chord (D7) is used to change focus from the key of E minor to G major. It's the dominant chord in the key of G major, so using it will cause a shift of key focus to G major.
  • The subdominant chord is the one that is built on the 4th scale degree. In this piece, it's used to introduce D7 in preparation for the shift of key focus. It works well because it happens to belong to both keys.
  • The mediant (G major) is just the chord built on the 3rd scale note (of E minor) but it's also the tonic chord in the relative major key of G major, and that's how it's being treated in this piece.
  • The supertonic chord (F# diminished) is the chord built on scale degree 2. Here, it introduces the dominant chord.

Francisco Tárrega

Francisco Tárrega (1852-1909) was a Spanish classical guitarist and composer. He is a well-respected figure in the classical guitar world and is responsible for introducing various techniques into classical guitar playing. This study in E minor is one of his most popular pieces probably because it's also the easiest. Other compositions include the famous tremolo study 'Recuerdos de la Alhambra'.

He's also responsible for what temporarily became the most often heard, and probably also the most annoying tune in existence, the default Nokia mobile phone ring tone.

© 2014 Chas Mac