Fernando Sor: Study in D - Classical Guitar arrangement in Standard Notation and Guitar Tab

Fernando Sor - Study in D
Fernando Sor - Study in D

Study in D by Fernando Sor is a very melodic classical guitar piece that is well worth playing. It's no. 17 from his Opus 35. Despite this opus being titled "24 very easy exercises", this Study in D is around grade 4 level of the guitar exams that are set in the UK for classical guitar students. Grade 4 is classed as 'lower intermediate' level.

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Fernando Sor - Study in D

Fernando Sor: Study in D Opus 35 no.17
Fernando Sor: Study in D Opus 35 no.17

Sor: Study in D - Learners' Notes

The main point of this study is to give you practice in controlling the duration of the bass notes. They're not meant to be left to ring out like typical arpeggio studies. They should be stopped by your thumb. That can be left until you have some fluency in playing it, though, as it can be quite tricky to focus on controlling the bass notes while playing the other notes.

The other main difficulty lies in the barred chord shapes that you sometimes have to hold. There are some chromatic notes, such as E sharp, that are unusual in simpler pieces in the key of D. That means you should expect some unfamiliar chord shapes.

Classical guitar fingering
Classical guitar fingering


Fretting-hand fingering is shown where needed. Picking-hand fingering isn't shown but it's in typical arpeggio style using your thumb (p) for bass notes and your i, m & a fingers where they most naturally fall. See the chart for classical guitar fingering if you don't already know it.

Use rest-stroke on the upper melody notes to bring them out more clearly. Rest stroke, (also called 'apoyando') in case you don't know, is where the finger plucks the string and comes to rest on the adjacent string above. It has a more dynamic sound due to having to exert more pressure on the string to continue through to the next one. It's ideal for adding extra volume to the melody notes only.

Chord Tones
D major
D F# A
Tonic (home)
A major
A C# E
Dominant (leading home in D maj) or the tonic of A major
G major
E G# B D
Secondary dominant (to A major)
The principal chords of Sor's Study in D

Key and Chords

The key is D major, so the two sharp key signature is employed to indicate the raising of all F and C notes on any staff lines or spaces reserved for those notes. The closely related (dominant) key of A major is also featured several times. It makes its first brief appearance in bar 4. There are several hints at other keys, too, by the use of chromatic chords.

The chord chart shows the chord tones of the most important chords.

D major is the tonic or home chord

A major is the dominant chord and also the tonic chord when the piece modulates to A major. The first modulation (key change) is at bar 4.

G major is the subdominant chord in the key of D major. In its first appearance in this piece it leads nicely to E7 just by changing one note (G to G#) in bar 3

E7 is a secondary dominant chord - meaning it's the dominant chord of a different key. In this case it's the dominant of A major - in other words, it's the 'dominant of the dominant'. It is used to effect the brief key change to A major.

Other out-of-key chords appear either as a way of hinting at a new key centre (e.g., B7 leading to E minor) or to provide an unexpected tonal contrast (e.g. D minor and A minor)

Fernando Sor

Fernando Sor (1778-1839) was a Spanish guitarist and composer from Barcelona who contributed a large volume of guitar compositions to the classical guitar repertoire, His output ranges from easy classical guitar studies to technically challenging works such as his 'Variations on a Theme of Mozart'. You can read more about Fernando Sor on Wikipedia.

More Classical Guitar Pieces to try

Here are some more classical guitar arrangements that are easier than this one. Each is from a different period: Renaissance, Baroque and Classical/ Romantic.

Wilson's Wilde - a traditional, Renaissance Period English tune that has been arranged for lute by famous Elizabethan composers such as John Dowland and William Byrde. This guitar arrangement is simple and effective, especially with lute-like effects added such as capoing at the 3rd fret and strumming (rolling) some chords instead of plucking them.

J.S. Bach - Minuet in G - A guitar transcription of a very well-known Baroque Period harpsichord composition that Bach composed for his wife. It's more difficult than Wilson's Wilde, but still easier than Sor's 'Study in D'

Carulli - Waltz in C - A simple but tuneful beginners' waltz by the renowned 18/19th century Italian guitar composer Ferdinando Carulli. This is the only one of the three that was actually written for guitar.


Study in D is composed by Fernando Sor (1778-1839) and is in the Public Domain.

The score, images and audio track are by chasmac and produced on Finale, Goldwave and Photoshop.

© 2014 chasmac

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