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The score indicates that the third bass note G should use the second finger. However, the second finger is busy with the tied C. How is this possible?

I can awkwardly stumble through by mashing my second finger over both strings but I can't believe that's what the composer/arranger has in mind.

Capricho Arabe major section first measure

The piece is in drop-D tuning: DADGBE, and the barre in this measure is at III.

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  • Aren't you supposed to let tied notes ring on guitar? Does a different note ring when you let go of the tied C and attempt to play the G with your second finger?
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Jul 8 at 4:46
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    Two things - is this standard tuning, and what number precedes the dotted line?
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 8 at 6:55
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    @Tim the piece is in drop D (DADGBE). Commented Jul 8 at 19:58
  • @Tim I've updated the question to include that information. Thanks for asking :-)
    – DanielSank
    Commented Jul 8 at 23:00

2 Answers 2

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You correctly noticed it is impossible to play it exactly as notated. What you need to do is to shorten the C note at the time you need to lift the second finger, like this:

altered notation example

The slight shortening of the C note will be masked by the onset of G in bass. You kind of trick the listener that the C still sounds. I think this is how people play it normally, see e.g. performances by Julian Bream, David Russell and others.

One may wonder, why the rest I added above, wasn't there in the first place? Maybe to emphasize the C note belongs to the same melody, and that the rest is not supposed to be emphasized too much?

Classical guitar notation isn't always 100% accurate, especially when it comes to the note lengths. Sometimes you may allow the notes to ring longer, sometimes you need to make compromises, as in this example.

Moreover, this piece isn't really 3-voice. There is a bass, and there is a melody dialoguing with a chordal accompaniment. There aren't 3 continuous, independent, equally important voices. In the second half of the measure the third voice disappears, and the editor didn't even bother to notate rests.

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Any fingering, for piano or guitar mainly, is there for guidance only. It's not etched in stone! Often, a player will find a more appropriate fingering, easier and better for them. .That's part of the fun of practice - finding optimum positions and fingerings

If it's standard tuning, I'd be playing the G open 3rd string, and that then frees up the 2nd finger.

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  • I cannot speak for guitar, has I've not had enough experience with fellow students and their lessons, but I know for sure that there are still many "schools" in piano teaching for which there is always one and one fingering only. I remember some friends telling me about how they spent hours fully copying fingering for entire pieces, taken from those of a known performer (Carlo Vidusso) as their teacher only accepted their performances only when strictly following them. Commented Jul 8 at 13:44
  • @musicamante - I'm certain that if I took that approach, I'd lose half the students! It's bad enough working out what notes to play when, never mind using the 'correct' fingers! With students having varying spans from <an octave to those with >10th (on pno), I couldn't (wouldn't) insist on that regime.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 8 at 14:09
  • My point exactly. Every one has a different body structure, fixating on "absolute fingering" is just pointless cr*p. Luckily, those were the "old style" schools, with very rigid and strict teaching (which often forced people to completely quit music, not because they weren't skilled enough, but because they didn't follow the "rules", possibly stopping a promising career because of the stupid close-mindedness of teachers). It'll take some time, but sooner or later they will eventually go extinct. Commented Jul 8 at 14:32
  • @musicamante - exactly. My first couple of pno teachers were very much old school, and I'd have packed up there and then, were it not for parents giving me the opportunity at 11yo to play gtr alongside, but with no teachers in sight. Thanks, folks! My teaching methods now wouldn't go down well with them...
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 8 at 14:45
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    While I agree the fingering is often just a guidance, I can't agree with this particular advice. The C note is played on the G string, so if you want to play open G, you need to stop the C note anyway. Moreover, playing G on the D string, as notated, probably gives a more consistent sound of the bass voice. Commented Jul 8 at 19:58

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