Practise the classical guitar tremolo

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Classical Guitar By: Please log in to see tutor details
Subject: Guitar » Classical Guitar
Last updated: 07/07/2012
Tags: advanced repertoire, classical guitar, right hand technique, tremolo

I'm sure many of you will have heard the beautiful guitar piece by Tarrega entitled Recuerdos De La Alhambra. This translates as Memories of the Alhambra. The piece employs the classical guitar tremolo technique to great effect. What many guitarists do not realise is that this technique can be used to play any slow melody producing a full, self-accompanied rendition- with the tune sustained effectively. If your tremolo technique is sound, you only need a melody and a good harmonisation of it, to give a compelling performance. Of course, you will eventually be able to play the much-loved Tarrega piece. The sheet music for it is widely available.

Guitar tremolo involves playing a bass note with the right hand thumb followed immediately by a note on a treble (higher-pitched) string which is repeated three times using fingers ima. Firstly, listen to a recording of one of the masters playing Recuerdos De La Alhambra or have a tutor play it for you. Now you can have a go yourself. Play a bass note on open string 5 and follow it immediately with three Es played on open string 1.The right hand fingering is: pima. Next, to make practice more interesting, finger an A minor chord with the left hand. Instead of just string 5 you can substitute strings 4 and 2 with the thumb also, always followed by three stokes of string 1.  After practicing this for a few days, you will start to get an effect which sounds like a continuous high E with a bass line of A E C E C E.

My own trick for practising tremolo is as follows: finger an E on string 2, fret five with left hand index finger. Simultaneously stop an E on string 3, fret 9 with your little finger. If you can stretch it, play the natural harmonic at string 5 fret 7 with the middle digit. Add the open string one and you have the same note E in unison on four strings. For once, this is something the piano players can't do as well as us! Next, play the tremolo, as in Recuerdos, with the following strings: 5111 3111 2111 3111 2111 3111 etc. Because it's all the same note musically, you have a really good opportunity to check that both your time-keeping and the balance between bass and treble is good.

Have fun!

Richard Harvey Classical Guitar Teacher (South East London)

About The Author

I am a very experienced tutor of the classical guitar. I am very patient and friendly and teach all levels-from beginners to professionals. My students always enjoy my lessons which I give in a good-humoured, sympathetic way.

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