Classical Guitar

Just 298 notes

The Fernando Sor piece is less than 2 minutes of music. Just 39 measures and 298 notes.

Putting a lot of effort into such a small thing is something I haven’t done in a long while. I feel something of what it must be like to be a woodcarver, starting with a nondescript block of wood, working and working at it until the art within is revealed. There’s certainly no doubt that my initial read-through of the Sor was the musical equivalent of a block of wood.

Sightreading on the guitar poses an interesting problem. In comparison, consider the piano. Each note is at a single location on the keyboard so sightreading is the process of making sure that your hands are in a position that allows you to find each note as needed. On the guitar, that task is complicated by the fact that each note can be found at several locations on the fretboard. A skilled sightreader on the guitar must be adept at scanning ahead and looking for ways to make the notes physically possible. Years ago while studying with John de Chiaro, I remember being amazed at his ability to see around the roadblocks of a piece so quickly.

When I began with Sor’s study, what I did can’t be described as sightreading. Instead, it was a meticulous working-out of the details, measure by measure. I look forward to the day when I’ll be able to truly sightread a piece that moves around the fretboard so much.

For now, I’m still polishing up a few rough edges, including that darned spot between measures 4 and 5 which still produces a clunker now and again as I play through. The goal is in sight though, and I hope to post a recording soon.

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