Passacaglia and Barre Chords in Classical Guitar

My classical guitar lessons have been going well. I honestly feel I am making good progress. I’ve memorized the two main sections of “Malagueña” Malaguenaand have to work on the lento (slow) section. The other song I’ve been working on with my teacher is “Romanza” or “Spanish Ballad”.

Malagueña is the feminine form of the Spanish port city Málaga. I think the tune was also used by Ernesto Lecuona in a piece of music. It has been featured or used in many other pieces of music as well. The song itself is pretty old, unless I am mistaken, and has its roots as a traditional piece from the port city of the same name in Spain. De Torres painted a picture he titled Malagueña in 1917 so it has been popular for a long time.

Aside from “Classical Gas” by Mason Williams, “Malagueña” is the second most requested song by audiences. There are a ton of different renditions and arrangements, but I am concentrating on the one by Christopher Parkening. My guitar teacher, btw, used to study under Parkening.

“Romanza” (Romance) or the “Spanish Romance” is of more questionable origin.  It appears it first appeared in the late 19th century, but other than that we don’t know the authorship. I am studying the minor section right now, and trying to get myself to mastering barre chords. Agh, they are my bane! (But I refuse to be deterred. I will master them.)

The third big piece I am working on (for myself, not my teacher) is “Passacaglia”. This is another musical form which originated in Spain and is derived from the Spanish pasar or “to walk” and calle (street). Even so it looks like there are Italian sources to this musical form sourced to 1606.

So it’s old no matter how you cut it. Again there are many different arrangements to this, but I am studying the one in Hal Leonard’s Classical Guitar Method. I like its strong, haunting quality. Any passacaglia has a brief sequence of varying chords over a bass line, which itself may vary.

Anyway, I like it. I am having fun now that I have committed to CG but I would be less than honest if I said there wasn’t some frustration along the way. CG is one of the most difficult forms of music to master. I don’t know what the most difficult would be. (Flamenco, maybe?)  But CG is difficult enough. I love the music and I love the structure inherent in the form. I am probably practicing about 2.5 to 3 hours on average a day. Sometimes longer. I’d say that feels about average. I am not interested enough to keep a record. It has probably has been longer of late because I have the opportunity to put in the time. That won’t always be the case, though, once the writing picks up again.

One final note, classical guitar doesn’t necessarily mean you have to play classical music. I kind of agree with the modern interpretation that says any kind of music can be played in a classical style.  To show what I mean, here is Per-Olov Kindgren playing Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” in classical form.

Maybe someday I can do this! (in about a million years) 😛

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