Spanish Folk Song

"Folk Song - Originating among the people of a country or area..."

This Spanish folk piece, like Malaguena, is a most popular classical guitar tune for the ages. Every "man and his dog" knows or plays this tune, but I don't mean that in a pejorative sense, more in homage to its overall popularity.

Indeed, whenever I've played that tune you really notice people sit up and take notice and often get requests to replay it. I think it strikes a chord with people due to its inherent "Spanish-ness" if you will, but also because of its simplicity, yet striking emotional power and pull.

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So what do you need to keep in mind when playing this folk song? A sense of rhythm for sure plus a balanced musical approach. You must be relaxed when playing this tune because with so many triplets you could have the tendency to "spin out" by speeding up the tempo too much. You need to keep the tempo moderately fast but secure throughout the entire piece.

The melody takes place on the first or "E" string for the most part in both sections of the music i.e. the first E minor section and the second E major section. Using major and minor keys like this was a common method of providing more "balance" to a piece of music. Technically speaking, you are often using the "a" (annular) finger of the right hand to play the melody in this folk song, so you need to be adept at bringing out the melody with that finger and playing the accompaniment and bass a little quieter.

Sometimes I play the melody rest stroke, but if I do that I often play it at a slower tempo. This usually depends on how I want to portray the piece but on the majority of occasions I just use free stroke with the "a" finger but pluck it a little louder as you see in the video on this page. I also use some vibrato for a little more "emotional pull" but try not to over do it because it can sound rather "affected" and quite amateurish when vibrato is over-used.

Notice in the first section that there are not many barre chords. Indeed, you often only use one finger of the left hand to play the opening section melody whilst the accompaniment has a lot of open string notes. Often it's the second section that separates the "men from the boys" (or the "women from the girls" to be more politically balanced :))

Indeed, nearly all of the second section is either a full barre or half barre. Don't let this fact get you down. Yes, it is harder to play and manage, but it is not unplayable and with good practice techniques, involving slow repetition, it is great practice for harder classical guitar or finger style pieces that you may encounter in the future. Just be like the proverbial tortoise with this section of the folk song i.e. slow and steady wins the race!

This is no platitude. It really, really works, and if this approach is applied to most things in your life you'll find you get a lot more done. No joking!

O.K. to play this piece you:


1. Print and read the music as you would read a book


2. Imaging playing it and where your fingers would be on the frets and strings etc


3. Watch and listen to the video on this page to get a good "feel" of the piece


4. Play through the music slowly focusing on the difficult parts with more repetition. That might mean on some days starting with the difficult passages but playing them slowly, even repeating two consecutive bars over and over


5. Working it up to concert speed

Well, there it is. I hope you enjoy this little popular Spanish folk song for years to come!

Folk Song on YouTube...

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