Easy Classical Guitar: Fernando Sor-Study in E minor in Tab and Standard Notation

Fernando Sor - Study in E minor
Fernando Sor - Study in E minor

This is a fairly easy classical guitar piece by the great 18th/19th century Spanish guitar composer and virtuoso performer, Fernando Sor. It's No.14 from his Opus 60 "Introduction a l'étude de la guitare". The score is shown below and can also be seen line by line in the video capsule synced with an audio track of the music.

The Score

The score contains the music in standard music notation plus guitar tablature. You can enlarge each line of the music by clicking on it and viewing using the HubPages Gallery feature for a clearer display.

Fernando Sor - Study in E minor

Sor - Study in E minor
Sor - Study in E minor

If you want an idea of how Study in E Minor should sound, here's a software-generated 'MIDI to Audio' track of this study. You can see the same score line by line while listening to the track. View it in full screen mode with high playback quality to get the best display.

Study Notes for Learners

This study is in two sections: A & B.

Section A consists of eight bars, which are repeated with alternate endings. Play up to bar 8 (the 1st ending) and then repeat from the beginning. Omit bar 8 on the second pass and play bar 9 (the 2nd ending) instead.

Section B is sixteen bars long and the whole section repeats from bar 9. Section B is twice as long because it also contains a modified version of the A section (A2) starting from bar 18. So, while on paper (or screen) it looks like A A B B, musically, what we hear is the piece played as A1 A1 B A2 B A2.

Fretboard Position

Like most easy classical guitar pieces, this study is played in the first position of the fretboard, apart from a couple of very brief trips to the 2nd and 3rd positions at:

  • Bar 11 - To play the B and D at the same time, B needs to be played on string 3 fret 4 along with D on string 2 fret 3, (as the tab shows) with your 2nd and 1st fingers, (as the notation staff fingering shows). These two fingers then slide down to play the A and C notes that follow on the same two strings.
  • Bar 17 - Play the B bass note with your 1st finger after sliding up from the previous bass note, A#, on the same string.

Classical guitar finger labels
Classical guitar finger labels

Fingering

Fretting Hand fingering is shown with numbers 1 - 4 where it's useful, especially at bars 12 and 23, where it's a bit trickier than usual.

Picking hand fingering is shown as p-i-m-a, etc. just for the first line as an example. Feel free to do it your way, but try to keep it practical and logical, to achieve better fluency of finger movement of your picking hand.

See the chart if you don't understand the finger symbols used.

Chords
Chord Tones
Function
E minor
E G B
Tonic (i)
B7
B D# F#
Dominant (V)
C major
C E G
Submediant (VI)
E major
E G# B
Dominant of subdominant key (V/iv)key
A minor
A C E
Subdominant (iv)
D minor
D F A
Subdominant of subdominant key (iv/iv)
A# Diminished 7th
A# (C#) E G
Leading note of Dominant (vii/V)

Key and Chords

The principal key of this study, as the title makes clear, is E minor. That's why the key signature of one sharp (F#) is used. That's the key signature used by E minor and its relative major key, G major. In this piece, even without the title, we can see that the key is E minor and not G major, because:

  • The piece ends on E minor (notes E G B). It also starts on E minor, but the starting chord is a much less certain indicator. There are also many E minor chords throughout the piece.
  • There are a few D sharp notes. Although D sharp isn't in the key signature, it's a note that is commonly used in the key of E minor, but not commonly used in G major. The scale of E natural minor doesn't have it; it has D natural, but the scale of E harmonic minor does. All minor keys frequently raise their 7th note this way. It makes for stronger chord progressions.

While E minor is the principal key of this study, it's not the only key. The music in section B hints at different keys and passes briefly through A minor and B major before the reprise of the A2 sub-section comes in at bar 18 in E minor. The modifications in this sub-section are to ensure the piece ends on E minor, unlike at the end of the A section, which ends on B7.

The chord functions are the technical names given to the chords depending on which scale degree (note) they're built on, or if a chord is foreign to the key, its relationship to the next chord. The Roman numerals indicate the scale degree using lowercase for minor and diminished chords and uppercase for major chords and (if present) augmented chords too.

More Easy Classical Guitar Pieces

Carulli - Waltz in C

Sor - Study in A minor

Giuliani - Theme and variations Opus 50 no 2

You can see many others by clicking the "previous" and "next" buttons below, or you can see them as a list in my profile. In addition to classical guitar pieces, there are folk fingerstyle arrangements and Elizabethan Lute music transcribed for guitar - all in the same format as this one with tab, notation and an audio demo track.

Credits

The music featured in this Hub is composed by Fernando Sor (1778-1839) and is in the Public Domain.

The score, audio track and images are by chasmac.

© 2014 chasmac

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