Guitare Classique

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-a page where I talk about playing classical guitar-

On a typical day I’ll play around between an hour or two, sometimes more but usually only if I’ve been skipping a few days or am trying to learn something new.

Here are the pieces I usually practice daily, my recurring go-to setlist so to say, in order:
Canzonetta (Mendelssohn) arr. by Francisco Tárrega
Bourré (BWM1002) arr. by Francisco Tárrega
La Valentina by Manuel Ponce
Cavatina (I, IV) by Alexandre Tansmann
Sonata clásica (I-IV) by Manuel Ponce
Sonata Mexicana (I) by Manuel Ponce
Sonata romántica (I, III, IV) by Manuel Ponce

Also Le nouveau Papillon by Matteo Carcassi and a short Ballet by Ponce I usually stick in somewhere often before or after taking a break.


… that setlist has a LOT of sections on it I need to work on, otherwise I think it’s just technique in general I could specifically focus more on, positions, basic mindless or tricky pattern repetitions and such. That kind of thing can help a lot, and I kinda use the two break pieces as fun ways to do a little bit of it although I’ll rather use certain mesures from the setlist whenever I looking to practice something like that with some more effort.

These aren’t full concert quality recordings or interpretations either, working up to and keeping up that kind of skill takes a lot of work and dedication. So hat’s off to those that do!
Here’s my latest uploaded recording. It’s my most decent attempt at recording these two so far, and it’s more or less on par with my level these days

(click to jump to other videos previously posted on this page)

Also worth mentioning was that I’m using a new guitar, which makes a huge difference. Not much to say about it, just a low-end nylon acoustic. It’s about the same size as the old one. It’s obviously not the same make and model, but apart from not having any holes, dents and cracks in the wood, and having new frets; it’s practically the same guitar. Much easier to play and way better sound.

(13th of October, 2016)

Having recently polished up my tiny little Bravo, and trying again to record some of the sonatas, I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion it’s not worth stressing myself too much considering the equipment I’m currently using. I think I’ve managed to get a few decent takes though, and overall I’m playing way better than before. The options on the software I use have been slashed and trashed, pretty much, when I upgraded… lots of freeware or open source options aren’t working out anymore, and I haven’t been keeping up to date. So that’s unfortunate.

Considering the effort needed to work up a flawless – or near to, or good enough – interpretation of these things for recording, individually not to mention the whole set, I’ve given up on making a serious effort on that front: the end quality doesn’t really justify it, no matter which take I end up with the audio is terrible. I am however going to keep playing them, just not going to spend too much time trying to record decent clips of my performances. Video might be real bad, but using my handheld camera does seem to provide a better audio. I can fiddle with the audio side a bit, improve the quality somewhat, but that would mean having to split and edit a separate file for the sound and sync up the two. Again, way too much time and effort grinding for what outputs out of this shitty equipment.

I might spend 2-3 hours on this a day. Sometimes I go through books and sheet music, learn new stuff, or refresh on something I might have played in the past. The ones I’ve listed below are the ones I play regularly though, and know pretty much inside and out at this point. I do it for fun, so even if once in a while I sit down to try-hard practice and repeat with the notations, I’d rather just play through them all at once one after the other. I could upload the whole show somewhere, in all I can go at it for over an hour and then some, but then again… every time I do a session I’m at odds whether or not to bother. When I do I usually end up not too motivated to actually edit and upload them.

Watching archives of those hour+ takes from shitty hardware and figuring out which one better displays the music overall, and doesn’t butcher my favorite parts too much, is kind of a bore. Honestly, again, I’d rather keep playing and improving. So yeah, only a few uploads for today: new parts for Cavatina, and replaced La Valentina with a better one from this summer. Might add a few more new ones over the coming weeks. Specifically, working hard on Sonata clásica and aiming to upload at least one of the tracks.

A lot of what I play is from Andrés Segovia, who was basically the reason I started playing classical guitar, or rather, why I ended loving it so much, and why I started favoring learning it above playing other things. All I know of him, Segovia, is from a few documentaries, the odd biopic and his recordings. I started buying his notations in the early 2000s. At that point, I was still more of an electric guitar player, and the occasional bass player and backup vocals…

Most of these I learned from Edition Schott publications, from their Guitar Archive series of notation booklets (I’ll just mark them as GA#), but some I found elsewhere or just learned approximately by ear… I also have piles of sheet music and various notations from other great players and composers that I gathered over the years which I never look into much, most of it isn’t even specifically for guitar so it does take a bit more effort to relearn them every time, but it does help in keeping my reading skills up (the ones I play regularly I don’t even use the sheets anymore, some of them I’ve barely even looked at in years)… cause after a while without practice I just completely forget them…

Like this one:

It’s an arrangement I came up with using an orchestra’s sheet music. I never got around to writing it anywhere. I initially wanted to play it on just one guitar, and of course I tend to just play or perform these solo and unplugged, but it’s really more fun transcribed for two guitar tracks so… this is what I came up with. Last time I fooled around with it was during the winter of 2012-2013, and the video is the better recorded takes I made of it. It’s not one I practice on a regular basis.

This one is from Beethoven, in 2007:

-Piano Sonata No.14, Op.27 No.2, I. Adagio sostenuto

“Moonlight Sonata” as it is more popularly known, was the title given to the piece by german poet Rellstab in 1832, five years after the composer’s death, and doesn’t translate the reality of this movement which is more closely comparable to a funeral march, or music for mourning. Rellstab saw in the adagio images of moonlight reflecting off the rippling surface of a lake, which the public translated as a romantic image… Beethoven’s assistants described the feel the composer gave to his own interpretation of the piece as bringing to mind ghosts dragging their chains across a castle’s floor… nevertheless, and despite the many objections of well to do critics, it is the more ‘romantic’ title which has stuck with the public, and under which it is universally known to this day. Some have explained this by the fact that most artists were giving a biased interpretation of the piece, intent on pleasing the public’s expectation of it.

This is the order in which I usually enjoy playing these following songs in:

3 canciones populares mexicanas by Manuel María Ponce (1882 – 1948)
GA 111

This is a more recent one for me, though one I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to for a long time, mostly for the 3rd part which is still the only part I have properly learned so far.

III Allegro

Cavatina by Alexandre Tansmann (1897 – 1986)
GA 165

This one doesn’t really have the right notations for some of the better parts that Segovia used to perform live, not sure but I think there should be a part V for this. Preludio and Barcarole are the only ones I like to practice on a regular basis anyway… While still in university, I once managed to get Scherzino (III – Allegro con moto) down pretty well after like 3-4 months of obsessed determination… but it’s not one I kept up the practice for or work on very often, nor have I tried to find the sheet music for the 5th part that can be heard on some of his albums.

I “Preludio” Allegro con moto (in my all time favorites and top reasons for loving this music so much)

IV “Barcarole” Andantino grazioso e cantabile

II “Sarabande” Sarabande

Sonata clásica by Manuel M. Ponce
Hommage a Fernando Sor
GA 122


Often times the Sonata I go to when I don’t have that much time (mostly the first three), or want to change it up a bit by starting on a different note. It’s really a fun one to play.

I Allegro
II Andante
III Ménuet (another favorite)
IV Allegro

Sonata Mexicana by Manuel M. Ponce

I learned this one from a Peer Music edition 1967 revision sheet music book. The first part is one of the first classical pieces I studied.

I Allegro moderato

Sonata romántica by Manuel M. Ponce
Hommage à Fr. Schubert qui aimait la guitare
Edition Andrés Segovia GA 123

This is easily one of my favorite ones, greatest of all time #1 personal likes. For the 1st Allegro, 2nd in my heart only to the Allegretto. It’s one of those pieces that first had me fall in love with Segovia’s music. I haven’t played Andante in years, and I really struggle with the final Allegro. Despite the rough patches, and bars where I just feel hopeless, I think I give it a decent shot.

I Allegro moderato
II Andante espressivo
III Allegretto vivo (one of my favorites ever)
IV Allegro non troppo e serioso

Sonata III by Manuel M. Ponce
GA 110

I haven’t touched this one in years, but I did end up having some decent recordings or my practice the last time I did. I’ll have to spend some time going back through it. I remember not being able to play all of the three parts completely*, and even the easiest parts get pretty crazy, but it’s an incredibly fun piece to play. I’d just need some time to freshen up on it.

I Allegro moderato

II “Chanson” Andante

III Allegro non troppo*


there’s a few more to add, but it’s fine for now…

– (Feb 21, 2016) –

Even as I work on this now, I review the old practice takes I’ve gathered up… the latest ones from just over half a year ago… I’m never satisfied, so many variables just ruin them for me (I have to have my nails done right, be rested enough, alert, warmed up but not tired out, the strings need to be fresh enough, the environment not too noisy or distracting… it’s not as obvious as it looks, I don’t do this for a living. It’s all self taught for the most part.)

I’ll add links to videos, posts, others pages or whatnot of relevance here. So for now maybe this’ll end up being just some sort of placeholder. I also might just move on and never edit this part again so go figure…

I’ll make a separate page for other music, so after the short intro stuff I’ll link here…

-nature hike, -math (though it bugs me not having a remastered version with better pics, no watermarks, source issues and all that -it’s another one of those side-projects whose draft was a bit rushed and sadly ends up being the last updated version…), -Train/Machines song -blues etc…

I’ll obviously update the page and links whenever I get around to recording a better take of each part. I’ve not set aside the possibility of uploading longer videos of those songs I can play from end to end, or even an entire practice session. I tend to follow a setlist whenever I have time, about two hours, otherwise I just pick whichever I fancy depending on the time I want to spend playing. The quality is unfortunately limited by the fact that I use my computer’s built in mic and camera.

I don’t really play that much, at least not as much as any pro would need to just to keep up his skills, but I try to practice a couple of hours everyday… as a student (in unrelated subjects) my guitar was always there to suck up all my hours away… it was, and kinda still is, my favorite tool of procrastination. I’ve played here and there, festivals, community events, mostly in bands… classical performance just a handful of times. I never intended to live off of it… focusing all my energies on that wasn’t my goal. I respect those musicians who dedicate a lot of their lives to mastering this beautiful instrument, I never put in even a fraction of the effort of what some of those great players have put in, nor would I ever expect to be as skillful in my interpretations as they can be. My repertoire is thus as well fairly limited. I have no shame however, these are not easy things to play. I congratulate anyone able to pull it off, but in many ways I prefer playing it myself, and my own interpretations of them over claims of virtuosity or fame, no matter how founded they may be.

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