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Classical Guitar Tabs

Jim Josselyn
Classical guitar music is popular

Where blues based rock or jazz improvisation (true improvisation) is the art of never playing it the same way once, classical music is a composer's medium where the player can play a piece perfectly. The art for the player, then, is achieving that perfection. The fun of it is finding a wonderful piece of classical guitar music and striving for perfection.

The Accompaniment - Arioso

One of Johann Sebastian Bach's many masterpieces, his Arioso is a simply beautiful song. Played at a slow ballad tempo this one really pulls at the heart strings. To print, click on the image. If you need help with any printables, consult this Guide for Adobe Printables.

For this song, and the following two pieces, play them finger style and if you are already comfortable using a pick, play these pieces that way as well. This accompaniment is a great study in consistency, as well. Play these groups of eight notes legato, smoothly and evenly.

The Main Melody - In The Hall Of The Mountain King

Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg's most well-known theme, In The Hall, was written as incidental music to the play Peer Gynt. This famous piece has been used in numerous modern movies, television shows, and commercials.

For the purposes of a classical guitar tab, learn it slowly and correctly and work on playing it at faster and faster tempos.

The Solo Piece - Ode To Joy

This arrangement of Beethoven's main theme of his ninth symphony is a great beginning study in classical guitar. It features the melody and the accompaniment. First learn the melody, which is the top line, then the accompaniment and then see if you can play them at the same time.

If you are just getting started with classical guitar, this a geat precursor for what's to come as you progress because classical guitar pieces are like juggling. Often times you have two or even three "balls in the air" at the same time with melody, chord, and bass.

For Further Study

If these examples have whet your appetite for more great classical guitar pieces, the following websites offer a variety of music in tablature format.

  • A top site for classical guitar tabs, Guitaretab offers short, simple, and easy to play arrangements of pieces by Bach, Beethoven, and Paganini, as well as public domain pieces like Greensleeves. Each tab has an accompanying video and is a good way to augment the music you've already learned.
  • This site offers an interesting interface where you can choose composers like Bach, Fernando Sor, and DeVisee, as well as a miscellaneous tabs with many composers and a "for beginners" tab. Once you choose a composer, you get to a page where you can view and hear the music in various formats, including tab, notes, midi, and MP3.
  • This site offers music a step up in difficulty and shares studies by guitar composers including Tarrega and Aguado, as well as standard fare like Canon In D and Fur Elise. A nice touch on this site is the accompanying videos are embedded into the same page as the tab and directly beneath them, so you can see both the performance and the music at the same time.
  • Jean-Francois Delcamp is a terrific classical guitarist, and his site offers outstanding free transcriptions of great classical guitar works. A bonus is the tabs include the sheet music in standard notation for those who can read or want to learn. He also demonstrates the transcriptions by playing them on video. This excellent resource is highly recommended.

About Classical Guitar

Classical nylon string guitar is really an entirely different instrument than the electric or steel string acoustic guitars used for popular forms of music. The classical guitar has softer strings, a wider neck, and it's held differently, played with the fingers instead of a pick. Therefore, it sounds different and is made to play one genre of music. Going back to the origins of the guitar in Spain and evolving from the lute, nylon string guitars were the first made. The music of Spain and great composers like Albeniz are the history of this wonderful music, brought to life in the hands of the maestros Andres Segovia, John Williams, Julian Bream, and many more. The classical guitar can function in a small chamber group or as the lead instrument in a large orchestra, but most often it is heard in its natural state, as a solo instrument in one player's hands.

Classical Guitar Tabs