Steve Lin

Classical Guitar Presentation Study Guide

  • Classical Guitar
  • Traditional
  • Latin America
  • Guitar's Relatives

The classical guitar that we identify with today has a rich history that can be traced back more than 500 years ago. Naturally, guitar music has undergone many changes and embraces many styles. Below are just a few examples.

(Paco de Lucia - flamenco; Metallica - metal; B.B. King - blues; Woody Guthrie - folk; Yamandu - Brazilian; Eliot Fisk - classical)

Today, many classical guitarists go beyond their traditional backgrounds to incorporate other musical styles into their own music. As a result, one should understand that “classical guitar” is an ever-expanding term; it will continue to evolve and change with each generation of new guitarists.

This study guide contains varied musical examples. Not all examples are performed on the guitar, but in music, it is often helpful and useful to observe differences and similarities and to compare and contrast.

The materials presented in these pages can barely begin to represent the history and culture surrounding the classical guitar. One will almost always find tradition in the classical guitar, but as musicians and creative persons, the classical guitar will continue to develop in new and exciting ways.

Simply put, “Guitar Repertoire” refers to the musical pieces that can be performed on the guitar.

The guitar has traversed many historical periods, and subsequently, many musical styles have emerged. Most guitarists agree that the guitar’s traditional repertoire includes: Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, Spanish, and some Contemporary.

Here are some samples of these different styles:

Renaissance: Angel Romero performing "Canarios" by Gaspar Sanz

Baroque: Shin-Ichi Fukuda performing "Gavotte en Rondeau" by Johann Sebastian Bach

Classical: Andrea Dieci performing "Variations on a theme of Mozart" by Fernando Sor

Romantic: Lorenzo Micheili performing "Cavatina" by Alexandre Tansman

Spanish: Eliot Fisk performing "Cordoba" by Isaac Albeniz

Contemporary: Marcin Dylla performing "Finale" from Guitar Sonata by Alberto Ginastera

From Mexico to Chile, the guitar is ever present, and it is no wonder that the music from Latin America is so readily associated with the guitar. The folk and local music are as diverse as the terrain and landscapes in this region.

Below are sample of sounds from various Latin American countries. Not ever clip features the guitar as a main instrument, but it is important to remember that the guitar is also very important as an accompanying instrument that forms a part of an ensemble.

Venezuela: "Zumba Zumba", performed by Aquiles Machado & Aquiles Baez

Cuba: Buena Vista Social Club - Chan Chan

Argentina: Tango "Muerte del Angel" by Astor Piazzolla

Brasil: Brazilian guitar performed by Yamandu Costa

Mexico: Tlen-Huicani from Jalapa, Verzcuz, Mexico

When we look at the music from various cultures in the world, we find that there are many guitar-like stringed instruments. These include the Indian sitar, the Turkish ud, the Japanese samisen, and the Chinese pipa.

Indian Sitar, performed by Ravi Shankar

Chinese Pipa Music

Middle-Eastern Ud

Japanese Shamisen