Fundamentals of Classical Guitar
Authored by David Newsam
Course Code: OGUIT-210
Though the roots of classical guitar trace back to the 1600s, you can continue to hear its influence on contemporary music from around the world. Rock guitarists such as Randy Rhoads (Ozzy Ozbourne) and Robby Krieger (The Doors), Brazilian composers Heitor Villa-Lobos and Antonio Carlos Jobim, and countless others have drawn inspiration from the great works of the classical guitar repertoire. Fundamentals of Classical Guitar offers a structured, active, and comprehensive entrance into the world of classical guitar, and is a perfect fit for students with pick-style electric and acoustic guitar backgrounds.
The course begins by providing an important perspective on the history of classical guitar, including its artists and the regions in which the music developed. You will also learn about and gain an appreciation of the role that classical guitar plays in the development of rock, folk, acoustic, and Latin American musical styles.
You'll move on to develop a foundation for the techniques of executing arpeggios and scales for the picking hand, and applying these techniques to music from the past four centuries. Once these skills are developed, the course introduces more advanced techniques, including harmonics, tremolo, and rasgueado, using an ever-expanding repertoire.
The course will explore Brazilian rhythm guitar styles, flamenco, tango, and songs from folk, classic, and contemporary rock styles. Each week's assignment will include a solo performance piece and a duet to be performed to a pre-recorded backing track. Students can work at a pace that is challenging but not overwhelming, allowing for more advanced players to perform more challenging versions of the weekly assignments for extra credit.
The course material will be presented with extensive tab/notation, audio, and video, with music broken down into simple concepts that allow you to more easily master them. By the end of the course, you will have a foundational, working repertoire for the classical guitar that includes etudes, methods, and solo works from composers Mauro Giuliani, Matteo Carcassi, Fernando Sor, Francisco Tarrega, Leo Brouwer, and many more.
By the end of the course, you will be able to:
- Fingerpick complex arpeggio patterns for the right-hand
- Play exercises, scales, and melodies using multiple right-hand finger combinations
- Perform a variety of solo works from the classical repertoire
- Develop an extensive repertoire of techniques, including tremolo, rasguedo, harmonics, slurs, and percussion effects
Lesson 1: Getting Started with the Classical Guitar
- Background and History of the Classical Guitar
- Classical Guitar Notation Explanation
- Considerations for Classical Guitarists
- Alternating Finger Patterns for Right Hand
- Chamber Music
Lesson 2: Arpeggios and Major/Minor Scale Development
- Arpeggio Variations
- Open Position Major Scales
- Introduction to Minor Scales
- Fretboard Note Location
Lesson 3: Articulation of Melodies in Arpeggios
- Blame It on the Bossa Nova
- Minor Scales
- Melody on Annular Finger in Arpeggio
- 3-Note Arpeggio Patterns
Lesson 4: Melody in Bass Voice
- Melody in Bass
- Shifts on a Single String
- Two-Octave Scale Forms and Arpeggios
- 3-Note Arpeggio Patterns
- Vibrato Technique
Lesson 5: Two-Part Melodic Playing
- Melodies in Two Voices
- Brazilian Rhythm
- 5-String Arpeggio Patterns
- Two-Octave Scales
- Introduction to Tremolo
Lesson 6: Tremolo Techniques
- Introduction to Rasgueados
- Melody on Ring Finger within an Arpeggio
- Two-Octave Minor Scale Forms
Lesson 7: Flamenco Technique
- 5-string Arpeggio Variations
- Melody on A and M within an Arpeggio Pattern
- Continue Slurs
Lesson 8: Three Octave Major Scales and Arpeggios
- 6-string Arpeggio Variations
- Three-Octave Major Scales
- Three-Octave Major Arpeggios
Lesson 9: Harmonic and Drop-D Techniques
- Three-Octave Minor Scales
- Artificial Harmonics
- Drop D tuning
Lesson 10: Percussive Techniques
- Speed Builders
- Percussive Techniques
- Whole-Tone Scale
Lesson 11: Classical Guitar and Popular Music
- Classical Arrangements of Popular Music
- Advanced Percussive Techniques
- Open String Scales
- Spanish Guitar Master Francisco Tarrega
Lesson 12: Classical Guitar Alternative Techniques
- Classical Arrangements of Rock Music
- Diminished Scales
- Prepared Guitar
- Practice Routine
Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements
Completion of Guitar Chords 101 and Guitar Scales 101 or equivalent knowledge and experience is required. You should have a basic knowledge of the fretboard, scales, triads, seventh chords, music notation, and music theory.
- None required
Students are required to record video for assignments. You can use your smartphone, digital camera, or webcam to do this. If you do not already have a preferred video software, you can use the built-in recorder tool within your assignment post. You can play the backing track through your speakers as you record and the microphone will pick up both the guitar (acoustic or through an amp) and the track as you play along.
- Acoustic nylon or steel string guitar. Check out Reverb for guitar deals*
- A built-in microphone or an external microphone plugged directly into your computer (via built-in ports or an external audio interface)
- Ability to tune the guitar into tunings other than standard EADGBE—a chromatic tuner may be helpful for this
After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for any questions.
*An exclusive Reverb deal is available to all Berklee Online students through our Student Deals page.
General Course Requirements
Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Chats. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course.
- Latest version of Google Chrome
- Zoom meeting software
- Speakers or headphones
- External or internal microphone
- Broadband Internet connection
Author & Instructor
David Newsam has been teaching at Berklee College of Music since 1989 as a member of the Guitar and Professional Music departments. He is the director of the Classical Guitar Chamber program at Berklee and teaches private lessons on classical and jazz guitar. David has performed in concerts and clinics with many noted musicians, among them guitarists Jim Hall, Bucky Pizzarelli, Gene Bertoncini, Peter Bernstein, and Howard Alden; pianists Dave McKenna and James Williams; drummers Ed Shaugnessy, Louis Bellson, Bob Moses, and Alan Dawson; and jazz legends Clark Terry, Phil Wilson, Joe Williams, and Milt Jackson. He is the former Artistic Director of the Boston Classical Guitar Society, and is a member of the Back Bay Guitar Trio. David grew up in Connecticut where he was a student of Robert Shaw, and he is a graduate of Berklee College of Music where he studied with Jim Kelly, Larry Baione, and William Leavitt.
When taken for credit, Fundamentals of Classical Guitar can be applied towards these associated programs: