Advanced Classical Pieces

Advanced Classical Pieces

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  • All tab
  • Chords
  • Chart
  • Guitar pro files


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1. Bourree In E Minor - J.S. Bach
2. Cavatina - Stanley Myers/John Williams
3. Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring - J.S. Bach
4. Prelude In D Minor- J.S. Bach
5. Etude Number 1 - Heitor Villa-Lobos


  • Lesson 1: Bourree In E Minor (J.S. Bach)

    This piece is one of Bach’s most popular among guitar players. It is taken from the Suite For Lute In E Minor and is a great example of Baroque counterpoint. I encourage students to work on the two melodies independently to get a very clear idea of what each part sounds like without the other.
    When the lines are played together they should each be as clear as when they are played alone.

  • Lesson 2: Cavatina - Stanley Myers - Classical Guitar Lesson

    One of the most recognized classical guitar pieces of the last 50 years, Cavatina started out as a short piano piece by English composer Stanley Myers. In 1970 John Williams encouraged Stanley to stretch it out and they put together an orchestral version with two guitars. It was first recorded for Williams’ 1971 album, Changes, and was used as a theme in the movie The Walking Stick in 1970. The movie The Deer Hunter then used the song as its main theme in 1978, launching the piece into the mainstream. Almost every classical guitar player since then has worked on playing the solo version, mostly as arranged and performed by John Williams.

    This lesson goes through my thoughts and ideas of some of the possibilities a guitar player should explore with Cavatina. I offer my choice of fingerings, as well as other options that might work better for other players. There are a lot of barre chords involved and getting the melody to flow gently and smoothly, legato, will be very challenging.

  • Lesson 3: Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring - J.S. Bach - Classical Guitar Lesson

    Jesu, Joy Of Man’s Desiring is one of the most recognizable pieces of music in history. It has been recorded in numerous arrangements and styles and makes a great solo guitar piece. My arrangement stays very faithful to the original but is playable by intermediate guitar players. It requires a few stretches and good control of hammer-ons and pull-offs, and presents many parts where notes need to be sustained through movement in another part.

    The piece is really a combination of different themes, some in the style of a Prelude and others more like a Chorale, commonly done by a choir singing in harmony. We will break this down into small chunks, starting with the first Prelude Section (measures 1-8).

    The first section (Measures 1-8) establishes the 9/8 feel that carries on throughout the piece, but this can also be thought of as 3/4 time with the beats broken up into triplets. Attention must be paid here to holding down bass notes through the hammers and pulls, keeping your fingers firmly in place while executing the slurs.

    Part 4 starts with the chorale melody, which does require holding a few notes while you stretch into some changes. There are also a few spots where you need to use your end fingers (3 and 4) for notes that might seem easier with middle fingers. This is a good excuse to get those fingers more involved and on equal footing (handing?) with the rest.

    Measures 24-31 up the difficulty level a bit as the piece modulates from G Major to A Minor. It is really important to start the octave Ds with your second and fourth fingers, and work diligently on the hammer-on that follows. Measure 25 includes an unusual crossing of rhythms with four eighth notes (duplets) played underneath six equal eighth notes in the melody.

    Part 6 (Measures 32-44) modulates to the key of C Major and is still somewhat challenging, like the A Minor section. There are some position changes that need special attention to come out smoothly, mostly done with good finger independence.

    The last two parts of Jesu cover the end of the piece and some last thoughts.

  • Lesson 4: Prelude In D Minor by J.S. Bach - Classical Guitar Lesson

    This staple of the classical guitar world was written around 1720 and designated as a piece for the lute in the key of C Minor. Preludes usually serve as introductions to a suite of short pieces in a given key but this one stands alone.

    There have been many arrangements done by guitarists over the years and I have finally gotten around to my own. The lesson looks at quite a few different fingering possibilities, and even some impossibilities.

    Part 4 of the Prelude is probably the easiest section, although I use an arch-barre in one measure, and there is a bit of a stretch when we have the G# in the bass.

    Part 5 is the first 14 measures played slowly.

    Part 6 covers measures 15-22, starting with one of the most difficult stretches in the piece. One key to this stretch is to practice starting with your fourth finger barring the top three strings at the fifth fret, then reaching back with your first to get as close to the low F as possible. Over time it will improve, then work on it with the first finger first, as needs to be done in the piece.

    Part 7 starts with another difficult stretch, a barre at the ninth fret and a reach to the twelfth fret on the A string. This measure and a similar one later have alternate fingerings addressed. The rest of this section is pretty straightforward.

    Part 8 looks at only four measures, which happen to be the most difficult to finger in order to sound consistent with all the other measures. One solution to this problem is to use hammer-ons, noticibly changing the flow. Another requires some very uncomfortable stretches. My solution is to use a cross-string pattern where the highest note is not on the highest string, changing the right hand sequence. This ends up being relatively easy to play after a little work.

    Part 9 takes us to the end, using mostly familiar chord shapes.

    Part 10 concludes the main sections of the Bach Prelude In D Minor with some performance and interpretation notes and thoughts.

  • Lesson 5: Villa-Lobos Etude Number 1 - Classical Guitar Lesson

    This is a great guitar exercise that everybody should add to their toolbox. It consists of an arpeggio pattern played through a series of chords, some pleasant and some dissonant. I usually have students start with just working on the right hand pattern over some familiar chords before taking on the entire piece as a project. That is the approach I am using in this video lesson, starting with the basics, with the rest to follow as interest dictates.

    Part 5 of the lesson on Villa- Lobos’ Etude #1 picks up where the E/G# transitions to the Am chord, barred at the fifth fret. The continuing theme of placing your fingers in playing order is emphasized through the next few changes, including the jump to the descending diminished chords at the twelfth fret.

    In Part 6 we have a completely different technique, which will probably require as much time and work as you have been spending on the arpeggio. This time it is rapid half-step hammer-ons flying down the neck. There are a few tips to help this but controlled repetition is the main approach.

    The last few measures of Etude #1 are easier than most of the rest, really just alternating between a couple open chords before a set of harmonics and a couple closing chords. Part 8 contains a few closing thoughts and a bit on the structure of harmonics.