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Related: Figuring the Classical Fingering from Sheet Music

Are there any classical guitar exercises, (for classical music), that also include the Tab as well as proper frettting-hand fingering numbers, (with harmonies, chords, etc.)?

I am working on Pachelbel's Canon in D, (beginner), and I am discovering more efficient fingering as I practice. It would be awesome to find some exercises so that I can find these fingerings more naturally over time.

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Most proper classical guitar music, arrange by guitarists for guitarists, will contain numerical indicators in the sheet music for (1) the position, (2) which left hand finger to use for a note, (3) which string the note should be played on, and (4) which right hand finger should be used to pluck the note. This is a lot of information and is essentially TAB. Most classical music that I am used to seeing is not TAB (or at least not TAB only). This method of decorating notes still assumes that you know how to read music. There is so much information in this notation that it can make sight reading impossible so these indicators are used when the fingering might get tricky. To learn to play guitar and sight read at the same time there is a standard method that's been around for 100 years or more that teaches the student the "most common" or "most useful" fingering in a given position. So it is assumed that the guitarist knows this. Then when there is a big change in position or a strange chord is introduced the aforementioned notations are used to help the guitarist get over that spot. Then everything should follow the standard method.

As an example 6 Pavans and a Fantasia by Luis Milan, the Andrew Barrow transcription, has a lot of this notation in each piece. So much so that there isn't much room for reinterpretation. The approach is covered in standard books like Carcassi, Parkening's beginner book on guitar, and even Mel Bay's modern guitar method.

As for true TAB, I am not sure. I actually have an old print of Romance from the 1950's or 60's that has the entire song completely in TAB but I think this is a rare item for classical. If you are looking at sheet music that you want to learn and the fingering is not set then you need to do some arranging. If you read standard music notation then you can either search for a guitarist's arrangement of the piece or do the arranging yourself and annotate the sheet music you do have once you get a fingering that you like. If you doe not read SMN you are at a bit of a deficit.

As for "exercises" there really aren't any that will make you able to find the most efficient fingering on a first read. My advice would be to work through books like Carcassi, Parkening, Romero, and exercise like 20 Etudes by Sor (the Segovia edition has enough fingering to be helpful). And I did mention Barrow's version of 6 Pavans etc. That is a very comprehensive arrangement that is heavily notated. The problem is, and other's have said it, you may disagree with Barrow's choices. But by working through his arrangement you will at least get to experience the thought process behind those choices. Really, experience is the only guide here.

  • Thank you very much. I can read sheet music, and didn't have any idea that there were notations like that. I have been using tab to learn how to map notes between the fretboard and sheet music. Thank you for all of these examples I never knew about. I will try to find some pachelbel and Bach like what you mentioned. Do you have any suggestions for the Cannon in D? This is incredibly helpful. Thank you. – elika kohen Sep 17 at 20:18
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I'm assuming you're talking about fretting-hand information here, since picking fingers are usually as p-i-m-a, not numbers.

Given the size of the internet, there surely must be some resources, but a generalized one? Doubtful.

It's more important to keep in mind that all fingerings in sheet music are partly hints & guidelines. No two hands are the same, and what fits & comes easy to one hand, might just not fit your hands. So you should not be surprised to find alternate fingerings that work better for you. At least not for isolated instances.

But: Keep in mind that the one adding the fingering to the sheet music (hopefully) knows more about the piece, and has the benefit of fore- and hindsight: There might be fingerings that feel awkward first, but that, when employed in a phrase of the piece, make complete sense, because it allows for easier transitions or smoother execution or, in short, a net benefit to the ease of execution of the entire piece.

I tend to practice a piece with the fingerings presented, drop 50% of the suggested fingering, only to reinstate at least 25% of the suggested fingering. There's a personal learning curve there, where you become more aware of what your hand(s) can and can not do, and you'll be able to decide on which guidelines to follow and which not.

In summary: Never discard the provided information, always judge and adjust. Then reevaluate the provided information. There's a reason they put it there. The value of which depends on the source.

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