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Performance & Technique

Topic: Performance & Technique
acoust guitar musician playing composition to wow friends

Top 10 Classical Acoustic Guitar Compositions to Wow Your Friends

Posted by StringOvation Team on Feb 5, 2018

Classical guitar solos are beautiful and hypnotic. Watching the finger-work of a competent classical guitarist is as enchanting as the notes they play. This is why beginner and intermediate players can wind up feeling frustrated when favorite pieces are simply too challenging for their current ability.

Are you a beginning or intermediate acoustic guitar player who wants to wow friends and family with the pieces you've mastered? The following 10 classical acoustic guitar compositions are divided in half by level - five for beginning guitarists and five for the intermediate players in the audience.

5 Impressive Classical Acoustic Guitars Solos for Beginners

1. Greensleaves, Anonymous, arr. by Mason Williams

In addition to wowing friends (or serenading romantic prospects), Greensleaves is associated with a wonderful, completely unproven myth. According to "legend," the piece was written by Henry VIII, who was said to have written it for infamous Anne Boleyn. Regardless, this lyrical but somewhat haunting tune is a crowd-pleaser.

If you enjoy playing in a group, consider this version, arranged by R.G. Rhoades.

2. Study in C Major, Fernando Sor

Ready to make a little extra money? Try busking at an outdoor cafe using Fernando Sor's sweet and gently Study in C Major. It's fluid, non-intrusive tones provide perfect background music for couples sipping coffee or enjoying a meal on a patio.

3. Minuet, J.S. Bach

Many students will have played piano before moving onto the classical guitar, which is part of what makes this arrangement so interesting. Bach's Minuet provides a different angle from which to appreciate a highly-adaptable composition.

4. Classical Gas, Mason Williams

Here's a step away from the traditional classical, to the more modern and upbeat sounds of Mason Williams's Classical Gas. This piece is considered medium-easy (ME) and there is plenty of quick-paced finger work associated with it. However, with a patient, measure-by-measure approach, starting out slow and increasing speed with accuracy, you'll wind up with a finished product that sounds just like the versions you may have heard on the radio or in soundtracks from time to time.

5. La Campanella, Nicolo Paganini

Not only is La Campanella beautiful to listen to, the myriad of techniques and interesting variations in sounds will keep your audience rapt with attention. Again, it is meant to be played at a quicker pace than some of the others, but slow and steady wins the race (during practice hours), paying off in a flawless performance.

Once you've mastered those five pieces, it's a sign you've graduated to the intermediate rung of the musical ladder. Now, you'll be ready to practice the following five impressive songs for intermediate classical guitar students - as you begin to prepare for your orchestral potential.

5 Impressive acoustic compositions for intermediate classical guitarists

1. B-Minor Etude, Op. 35 No. 22, Fernando Sor

Sor's B-Minor Etude is one of his most famous works. It has a soaring melody on top and an accompaniment on the bottom. Rather than tackling it measure by measure, we recommend isolating the melody notes and playing them until you've created an expressive shape. Once you've done that, you can integrate the chords to get a sense of the harmonics involved, after which these elements can be put together.

2. Etude #1, Opus 60, by Matteo Carcassi

This is a scaled etude (study) as well as a change in chord etude, which means learning this piece hones both of these important guitar skills. Being an intermediate player means moving beyond black-and-white note accuracy, and learning how to create dynamic, curvaceous and balanced tones.

3. Tango #3, José Ferrer

Tangos are all about rhythm and sensual expression. Ferrer's is the perfect tango for intermediate players, allowing fingers to move all over the neck. Lower-intermediate students can use it to hone the basic techniques you've gleaned as a beginner while also challenging your rhythmic accuracy. Then, kick it up a notch to embrace the expressive fire this famous tango holds in store.

4. Paddy Whack, Traditional Irish Jig

Here's a piece that comes to us by way of traditional Irish folk music. The very quick tempo makes it a phenomenal practice piece for acoustic guitar, although it also sounds good when played at slower tempos. Paddy Whack is set in 6/8 time, and the single melody line is accompanied by a single note, that changes every three beats.

5. Adelita, by Francisco Tarrega

Set in 3/4 time, this waltz includes both melancholy and reverie, making it a desirable performance piece for classical guitarists around the world. Since notes are all over the neck, you'll be working with higher-position notes. Bar chords and some of their associated stretches will certainly give you something to work with and you'll also enjoy four different ornaments.

Congratulations, now you're ready for more advanced classical guitar compositions.

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