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The Classical Guitar is one of the oldest instruments in terms of evolution, however it really found its current form with the great Spanish Masters, Fernando Sor, Ferdinando Carrulli, Matteo Carcassi, Mauro Giuliani, Isaac Albeniz, Dionisio Aguado, etc. These composers and players were the foundation of the modern Classical Guitar with its distinctive broad body and bulging pear shape. These great artistes all lived in the late 1700′s and early 1800′s and between them laid down the largest part of the currently played and recognized Classical Guitar repertoire.
So good was their mastery and skill at composing that even some of the recognized Great Classical Composers notably Beethoven and Schubert wrote works specifically for the Guitar! Beethoven once commented “The Guitar is a veritable orchestra unto itself”. Fur Elise was written as a classical guitar piece for his niece who was learning to play.
“Many of the celebrated Vienna composers were familiar with the guitar and played it as an accompaniment to songs. Both Schubert and von Weber were players and both published a number of songs with guitar accompaniment. In The Guitar and Mandolin (Schott, London. Revised edition 1954), P.J. Bone wrote, “The majority of Schubert’s accompaniments were conceived on the guitar, and only afterwards did he set them for the piano, and many of his early songs were originally published with guitar. Many of his accompaniments show clearly and indisputably the influence and character of this instrument; they are in truth guitar accompaniments.”" Frederick Noad, The Classical Guitar (Ariel Publications, New York, 1976).
The deep body and rigid sides of the Classical Guitar have been specifically designed to amplify the sound and to produce the deep rich tones that we associate with today’s instruments. The design gradually evolved from early stringed instruments that probably made their way across the globe from India and Africa, via Arabia and finally to Spain where the modern Guitar finally took shape. There are of course many cousins such as the Banjo, Lyre, Lute, Mandolin and Ukulele to name a few.
The size and portability of the guitar made it a very popular instrument and early versions were played and were popular as far back as the Elizabethan era and even earlier in the UK. It is hardly surprising therefore that when electricity made the amplified electric guitar a possibility the instrument began a second career as the instrument of choice for Rock Bands, Country Musicians and bands in general.
The Classical Guitar is plucked with the finger nails of the right hand and the notes are selected with the fingers of the left hand, on the fret board, which is usually made of a hard wood such as Rosewood or Mahogany, the body is made of softer woods to allow for the shaping, Spruce is often used. The Face Board should be solid. many cheaper instruments are plywood faced, which can degenerate with time, so these should be avoided. The strings are nylon with the base three (typically) being wound with metal. Some brands of string wind the G and B strings with finer nylon (Saverez for one), this is to give the string a more consistent width and therefore purer sound for each note, nylon tending to stretch with age and thereby distorting notes due to the variations in string width.
Strings typically last from one to four months depending on the use of the instrument and quality of the strings used, as well as the physical attributes of the player! Sweat and body oils can change the string life noticeably.
The Classical Guitar is a great choice for your first instrument since the wider neck makes it easier to avoid left hand fingers touching the wrong strings, the nylon strings are also easier on the left hand finger tips. Finally the classical guitar is played ergonomically. The position is seated on a square backed chair with the left leg supported on a foot stool so that the guitar rests on the left thigh, the inside of the right thigh with the top of the body resting on the lower part of your chest. The fret board should make an approximately 45 degree angle to the ground, this leaves the left hand totally free to move up and down the fretboard, the left hand plays no part in supporting the instrument.
The main difference between a classical guitar and a steel string guitar is in the strength of the instrument a steel string requires much higher tension to tune than does nylon so a Classical Guitar should never be strung with steel strings, this could break it in two. The bridge of the Classical Guitar includes a plastic insert over which the strings pass they are then threaded through a hole and are twisted over the string two or three times and the loose end is passed along the bottom of the bridge plate and held in place by each subsequently threaded string. You string from base E to treble E in sequence (E, A, D, G, B, E). A steel strung guitar uses some form of peg to anchor each string and this is the easiest way to tell the instruments apart.
In order for children to learn to play before their fingers are fully developed Classical Guitars are made in 1/2 (4-8) and 3/4 sixes (9-12) as well as full size. There are copious amounts of guitar sheet music available on line and even teaching and lesson systems. The biggest plus of all is if you learn to play classical you can play anything!
Just to get you started I have included Classical Guitars for all ages of players along with my favourite strings and music books to get you started. Please bookmark the site and visit often, for more inspiration from some of the world’s best teachers and players, the site is updated regularly. Thank you.
John Williams Plays Asturias
I chose this video because John has the almost perfect position for playing Classical Guitar, you do not need to be this good until you have practised 8 hours a day for 30 years!
Contrast the playing and position to that of Andres Segovia probably the greatest ever Classical Guitarist.
Andres Segovia Plays Asturias
Asturias is one of the greatest compositions of Isaac Albeniz.
For those wishing to Learn Classical Guitar there are plenty of books available, but it is really hard to decide on which will truly help you Learn Classical Guitar. I have included a few of the ones that I personally found to be the best available. Jason Waldron has done a superb job in bringing the Classical Masters to the Classical Guitar for beginner and intermediate players. The fact that he is one of the World’s best players has helped him greatly in being able to transpose these pieces to the guitar and they all sound great. They are all pieces that most students exposed to the Classics will be familiar with and this helps greatly in playing with the correct rhythm and timing. This greatly speeds the average persons ability to quickly learn Classical Guitar.
Another of my personal favourites is Scott Tennants “Pumping Nylon” Scott has written a masterpiece for developing the correct technique for both left and right hands, whenever I am having difficulty with my technique for a new piece I find that spending a couple of days on Scott’s exercises soon solves the problem.
There is a small selection of books to the left and they can also be found at (Play Classical Guitar).
This brings me to another question that has been raised by one of my readers, and that is how do left handed children learn to play guitar? Well there are two or three solutions often they play a right handed instrument in exactly the same manner as a right handed child, this is because both hands are required to do relatively complex and unrelated tasks in order to play. The other solution is a left handed instrument, these can be bought and in the list of guitars I have included a left handed model.Then some guitars such as my Yamaha can be strung either way as either left or right handed as the bridge consists of a slotted piece of plastic with a triangular shaped insert which is tallest under the base strings, this can be reversed when the strings are removed and the instrument strung in the reverse sequence, thus turning it into a left handed instrument. The only remaining difficulty is in finding left handed tabulature, most of the lefties I have come across reverse the right handed tabulature and become very proficient at it.
Bach as a composer never actually wrote for the Classical Guitar therefore there are no Bach Classical Guitar works, however we often hear Bach Classical Guitar pieces and in fact many virtuosos play Bach as part of their repertoire. Bach Classical Guitar pieces are extremely difficult to play, because in fact they were originally written as keyboard pieces for piano, harpsichord or organ.
The fact that the pieces were written for the keyboard means that transcription is difficult, the keyboardist having 10 notes available in each chord played and the guitar a maximum of 6, so it is hard to maintain the the fullness of the keyboard version. This leads to some difficult stretches and technical difficulty in the transcribed pieces. Despite this many Bach Classical Guitar pieces are extremely popular and work very well. All the pieces included within this blog are from some of today’s guitar masters, and I really hope that you will enjoy them as much as I do.
After listening to them I know I felt compelled to go out and buy my own Classical Guitar and to get lessons and try to achieve sufficient mastery to duplicate them for myself. I truly hope that I inspire you and to just know that I may have been responsible for starting some of tomorrows great stars inspires me to further improve this site. I hope you return often, to see the changes, to leave your comments, to buy an instrument or merely enjoy the music, I know I do. So why not bookmark the site, Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon, My Space or Facebook it to your friends and just plain enjoy the experience. I wish you all well with Guitar playing, or listening, and I hope you enjoy perusing this site as much as I have enjoyed compiling it.
One of the questions often asked in respect of the Classical Guitar is do you need to read music or can you learn from Classical Guitar Tablature? The answer is that it is better to take lessons and learn to read music. The Classical Guitar Tabulature only shows the fingering for the left hand, whilst the music which is written all in the treble clef gives the timing for each note, and it is also conventional that the music for classical guitar be annotated with the right hand fingering, and often the left hand fret position too.
It is personal preference as it is quite possible for highly talented individuals to play entirely by ear, using their sense of tone, timing and rhythm to pick up the correct notes and sequences to play. However as a general rule I would recommend learning to read music, because those who master sight reading are able to play anything from the original scores. The trained musician who masters Classical Guitar and who can sight read will always be in demand, that is not to say that tabulature does not have a place in learning to play the Classical Guitar it certainly does and many quality players use tabs to help them learn new pieces.
There is plenty of argument about what constitutes the best Classical Guitar, however there is some general agreement. The best instruments are made with hardwood backs and sides (mahogany or rosewood) and a more flexible face board usually cedar or spruce. The neck of the instrument is usually made of rosewood, maple or ebony. It is common in Classical Guitars to make the neck of a cheaper wood such as maple and to front it with a fingerboard made of rosewood or ebony into which the frets are set. Some guitars are quite elaborately decorated with mother of pearl or ivory used to mark the main playing positions (the positions marked vary from make to make) but usually the 5th 7th and 12th frets are marked. Many Classical Guitars appear to have no position markers, but in these cases it is customary to mark the positions on the left side of the fingerboard so the player can see the positions but the audience can not.
The question as to which guitar is best is of course an aesthetic one as each player and each listener will prefer different aspects. A good guide is the hardness and stiffness of the materials used the harder the woods the more strident and bright the music that is produced. Some people will prefer the clearer and brighter sound of the harder woods and some the softer and more mellow tones of the softer woods. What is without question though is that the cleaner the manufacturing processes and the higher the quality of the workmanship the better any particular instrument will sound, and of course since they are made of natural materials no two will ever sound quite identical!
This said most people believe that the best guitars for Classical Players are those made by the Ramirez family, but for those of that can not afford a truly hand made and crafted instrument, those guitars made by Yamaha are excellent factory produced examples. The Yamaha process is one of supreme accuracy in cutting and preparing all of the parts and when you inspect any of their instruments the gluing is delicately and precisely done and there is great attention to detail.
My first guitar a Yamaha CG 100 A actually had better tone than one of my tutors hand made guitars from Germany! That cost many times its price. Westwood, Washburn, Alvarez and Hohner are also manufacturers that make excellent mass produced instruments. It should be noted that Yamaha now also make hand crafted top end instruments that are very hard to beat in terms of value for money.
This is a straight ahead legit performance of the 3rd movement from the 4th Lute Suite, BWV 1006, by J.S. Bach.
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A cover version of the song. changed few notes here and there. Hope you guys will like it.A great composition of per olov. One of my favorite classical guitar player. A great piece to play for your loved one specially if she/he is far from you.
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