"Lagrima - The notes representing the rhythmic fall of tears down the face of a young child..."

This piece is a wonderful little "miniature" written by a real musical master. Indeed, Francisco Tarrega played both piano and guitar, but it was the guitar that really captured his heart and mind and to which he dedicated himself to from a young age.

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Born in Spain in 1852, he took up guitar lessons at a very early age with a teacher in his town called Manuel Gonzalez. By the end of his life in 1909,  he had become the most influential and popular classical guitarist, along with Segovia, ever known.

More than any piece so far in this study series, this piece needs to be played in a relaxed fashion. You are shifting up and down the guitar neck more than any other piece which requires you to be relaxed and "fluid" in your movement (see video below). As you move up the guitar your thumb of the left hand does not leave the neck but rather you loosen your grip and it "glides" along the neck length. This action allows you to be more stable and produce a warm, romantic sound.

The word Lagrima translates to "Tears", or "Tear Drop". You can understand Tarrega's intention for the piece to have an emotional, yet not sentimental quality. It is the sound of real angst and suffering.

With this aesthetic in mind, it is prudent to play the melody on the 1st string with a rest stroke method. This makes the melody stand out over the bass notes. If you add a judicious amount of vibrato that will only add to its charm and appeal, but don't overdo it!

Being a "Romantic" piece, it also lends itself to some degree of Rubato, especially in the second E minor section. Rubato literally means "robbed". It is a slight slowing, then quickening of the tempo, and if done properly can make a piece seem so more musical. If you played this piece as just black and white notes in perfect timing, it would lose all of its "soul" and become dull and lifeless.

Try it and see what I mean! I'm sure you'll agree it needs an extra emotional ingredient which is best achieved via rubato. One more thing I need to discuss is the topic of glissando. A glissando, sometimes known as portamento or slide, is when you move from one note to another in a piece of music on the same string without lifting your finger entirely off it. It is meant to add expression and should be performed tastefully.

In the minor section of Lagrima,  there is a glissando movement (9th bar) where you move from the "G" note (3rd fret) on the first string to the "C" note (8th fret) on the first string. Be careful to play this is a light glissando manner because if overdone can sound heavy and terrible. If played too light it just won't make the correct emotional impact. Really, it's a matter of practice, taste and judgement. You really achieve the latter two after a lot of the first so don't be discouraged :))

Here's the complete piece on video...

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I hope these study notes on Lagrima have been of use.

Here are a few related resources in which you may be interested...

More than Lagrima...

The Biography of Francisco Tarrega

Tarrega Complete Works for Guitar

For more information on classical guitar go here...

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Welcome to LCG! I'm Trevor Maurice, owner of this site. I hope you find inspiration in these pages to help you with  your journey of learning to play the classical guitar. You can read more of my story here...


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