What Is Classical Guitar Style?

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Classical guitar has a certain style. While it encompasses thousands of players across hundreds of years, there’s are a few commonalities that can be considered classical guitar style.

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Wondering what sets it apart? Let us investigate the roots, unique characteristics, and techniques of classical guitar, along with its profound influence on the course of music history. By the conclusion, you’ll comprehend why this adaptable instrument strikes a chord with music enthusiasts across the globe. And if you’re looking to add a six string to your collection, take a look at my list of the best classical guitars.

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Understanding the Origins of Classical Guitar Style

Understanding the origins of classical guitar is like unearthing hidden treasures of musical history. The evolution of guitar construction is an intriguing journey. Initially, gut strings were the norm until nylon took over, providing superior durability and sound. The guitar’s design also changed from a petite, decorated version to the larger, resonant model we’re familiar with today.

The cultural aspect held a crucial part in molding the classical guitar style. Its roots trace back to Spain, where it became an integral part of their music and culture. Gradually, it seeped into other parts of Europe and beyond, absorbing influences from diverse cultures. This global exposure led to the birth of various styles and techniques.

The classical guitar is more than a musical instrument – it’s a testament to cultural amalgamation and transformation. Every chord played echoes the stories of its colorful and diverse heritage.

Distinguishing Features of Classical Guitar Style

When playing classical guitar, you’ll notice specific characteristics that set it apart. Classical guitar style includes the finger-picking method (most commonly with nails but often without), nylon strings, and passionate expression of feelings are chief among these traits. Let’s examine the factors that make this style distinctive:

  1. Classical Guitar Design: A classical guitar stands out due to its compact size and broad neck, specially designed to accommodate intricate finger-picking patterns.
  2. Nylon Strings Preference: Unlike the steel strings used in various guitar styles, nylon strings offer a gentler, subtler tone, perfect for the expressive nature of classical music.
  3. Finger-Picking Method: Classical guitarists employ their fingers to strum the strings, eschewing a pick. This grants them more control over the tone and volume. They can also play mutli-voice music this way.
  4. Natural Sound Amplification: Classical guitars are typically played unamplified, depending on the guitar’s hollow body’s natural resonance to disseminate sound.

This style, accentuating emotion and expression, is a beautiful form of high art.

Learning the Technique: Playing in the Classical Style

Mastering the classical style of playing requires precision and dedication. While I’ve performed a range of classical music in different settings, I’m still on a journey myself. It’s not simply about producing the correct notes; it encompasses more than that. It’s about maintaining the right posture, applying adept picking techniques, and truly understanding the music’s emotional depth.

Posture plays a pivotal role in this. Sitting upright, positioning the guitar at the right angle, and placing your hands in the perfect position are all essential elements of the classical style.

Picking techniques are vital as well. Rather than just strumming, it’s about comprehending the interaction between your fingers and the strings. Smooth motions, correct attack angles, and a proper follow-through are all part of the equation.

Once these techniques are mastered, the reward is tremendous. You’ll discover that playing in the classical style can be an exceptionally satisfying experience.

Developing Your Own Style

There’s also room in classical guitar to develop your own style. In my 20+ years of playing the guitar, I’ve played metal, jazz, flamenco, classical, and more. When I perform on my Cordoba C12 classical guitar, I bring that history to the instrument.

Below, you can see me performing Carcassi’s Etude no. 7 at a First Friday event in Redmond, Oregon:

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The Influence and Impact of Classical Guitar on Music History

Classical guitar music, rich and textured, has had a profound effect on the course of music history. The evolution of this instrument has left an indelible mark on contemporary music in a variety of ways.

  1. New Genres Emerged: The distinctive features of the classical guitar played a key role in the birth of fresh music genres such as flamenco and bossa nova.
  2. Impacted Rock and Pop: Rock and pop artists have integrated techniques from classical guitar into their music, enhancing its depth and richness.
  3. Added to Orchestras: The classical guitar has earned its spot in symphony orchestras, contributing a distinct and appealing sound.
  4. Spurred Modern Creations: Today’s composers frequently look to the classical guitar for inspiration, leading to the creation of pioneering music.

Classical Guitar Style: Conclusion

Classical guitar style continues to evolve today with amazing players. Whether you’re into baroque music or the edge of avant-garde sound, there’s a guitarist doing it in the classical tradition.

🎸 Check out my favorite classical guitar: Cordoba C12 CD on zZounds

Further Reading