For classical and fingerstyle guitarists, here’s an interesting guitar piece by the renowned 18th/19th century Italian virtuoso guitarist and composer, Mauro Giuliani. It’s in guitar tablature as well as standard music notation. There’s also a software-generated rendition of the score that you can hear in the video capsule. If you want to read the score line by line in the video as the piece plays, make sure to view it in full-screen mode at high playback quality (1080HD if possible) to ensure a clear display of the score.
Opus 50 no. 31 by Mauro Giuliani
Giuliani Opus 50 no. 1: Learners’ Playing Tips and Info
This isn’t a beginners’ piece but is still lower than intermediate level, so with a bit of perseverance and practice, it shouldn’t be too long before beginners can get to grips with it. It’s all played within the first and second position of the fretboard apart from the two final half barré chords (A minor) played at the fifth position. Playing a half barré at the fifth position means your first finger is pressing down on the first three strings at the fifth fret.
The suggested fingering for your fretting hand is shown at various places throughout the score.There’s some awkward fingering to get through at bar 4 (Don’t count the two note pick-up bar). The first chord being played at that bar is C major. Your first (index) finger is needed for the C chord note on string 2 and also for the F melody note immediately following it. Don’t let go of that C note to play the F. Instead, just let your finger fall across the first fret of the first string. The same problem (and solution) occurs immediately afterwards with the next chord in the same bar. The chord is E7 and your first finger is needed for the G sharp on fret 1 of string 3 as well as that F again on string 1 fret 1. Bar 9 also has awkward fingering where your third (ring) finger has to jump from string 2 fret 2 (C#) to the low G on the third fret of string 6. Remember, the fingering shown is just a suggestion. If you find an alternative fingering that suits your particular playing style, then feel free to do it your way.
As for your picking hand, use your thumb for bass notes, which are shown in the notation with downward pointing stems. For the upper notes, try to keep alternating fingers for more fluent playing.
The two small notes at the start and elsewhere are brief ‘grace notes’ that should be played as hammer-ons, meaning you play them and the next full-sized note all with one finger stroke. That’s why they’re played on the same string (string 3). It would be impossible to play them on two different strings.
The 6/8 time signature has two beats per bar and each beat is worth a dotted quarter note. You can see how the bass notes are providing those two strong beats.
Key and Chords
The key is A minor, which has a key signature of no sharps or flats. Minor key music, especially of this period, makes frequent use of a raised 7th note, which is always shown within the music as an accidental. In this key, the raised 7th note is G sharp. The chords featured in this piece are typical of those used in music in the key of A minor and include: A minor, E7, C major and G major. Mostly they are in the familiar chord shapes found at the nut.
Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) was an Italian virtuoso classical guitarist who composed guitar music ranging from simple beginners’ pieces to full-blown concert works for classical guitar. He also composed music for other instruments as well as for full symphony orchestra. His guitar pieces are especially popular among classical guitar students as, being a guitar teacher, he composed many simpler pieces with guitar students in mind.
The music is composed by Mauro Giuliani (1781-1829) and is in the Public Domain
The score, audio track and images are produced by chasmac