You've just realized your interest in playing classical music on a guitar and are looking for resources with free sheet music to start. Playing the guitar can either be the easiest or the most challenging thing to learn, depending on the learning mechanism you use.
Classical guitar music can be traced back to Spain, and it evolved as it spread throughout the world. Traditionally, this type of music used the acoustic guitar with nylon strings plucked to produce varying sounds.
Reading sheet music, although demanding, is a necessary skill for every competent guitar player. You need to know the different types of sheet music that you can learn and the best places to access them.
Classical composers such as Paganini and Berlioz are excellent examples of classical guitar music makers. Throughout this article, you will learn the basics of sheet music and the best free classical guitar music sites where you can find various sheets to start learning with.
Learning the Guitar With Sheet Music
Sheet music covers all bases, including which notes to play, the loudness of the notes, and how long you should play them. The sheet also contains music notation, which essentially shows the music’s key and how many times the key should be played.
There are three forms of sheet music, depending on what type of music you want to play. The first is standard notation, the second is tablature, and the third is chord boxes.
Standard notation is fairly formal and considered a traditional sheet music form. This version is essential for classical musicians because of how structured this type of music is. Additionally, the guitar is traditionally played in G.
Standard notation utilizes the single treble stave, a collection of six lines with spaces to hold notes. This type of sheet music is most prevalent in classical music and jazz, and each line comes with a series of circles representing a different musical note.
You can also find numbers embedded in the lines, which vary in meaning. Sometimes they represent a change in fingers when playing the note. Learning the standard notation makes your work easier, as you can learn how to play more complex music just by reading the sheet.
This skill also allows you to play as part of a musical team that uses the same transcript to play comprehensive music (with different musical organs). Better yet, it's even more useful for seasoned musical writers because other musicians can understand your work.
Challenges of Learning Standard Notation
Reading standard notation can be difficult, especially when you're entirely new to music. Standard notation comprises different components that make up the entire sheet.
Although slightly different, reading these sheets is easier for musicians learning guitar as a secondary organ. You will study a form of standard notation when playing the piano or violin. We usually advise guitarists to start with easier sheet forms and use standard notation when more experienced.
It can take up to a year to read standard notation sheets because of the complexity. However, standard notation sheets allow more room for flexibility, as you can start with simpler sheets and graduate towards more complex ones as you grow. The slow learning progress makes many learners quit early.
The other issue is that most guitarists can play tunes from memory. Because you're used to playing from sheets, you may find that you can't remember any of the tunes you used to play. This isn't a problem for classical guitarists because most of their music is written, but who doesn't want to play memorized tunes during family gatherings?
The guitar tab looks similar to standard notation with its horizontal lines. In the guitar tab, the lines represent the guitar strings. Instead of circles, the tab has numbers written on the strings representing which string to play for every fret. This is the best method for beginner guitarists to learn.
When learning how to read the tab, you don't need to know the notes. Instead, you only need to understand certain symbols and techniques, such as slide, bend, hammer-on, and pull-off. Tablature can turn you into a professional guitar player in a heartbeat, and there are numerous sites where you can find tabs to your favorite songs.
Another benefit of using tab sheets to play is muscle memory, and you'll most likely learn how to play the beats by heart.
Challenges of Learning Tablature
Tablature can be vague, especially when showing how long you need to hold a note. It helps if you have already memorized the song you want to play because you can tweak the song to your preferred melody.
These days, guitar sheet providers are adding traditional notations and tabs on a sheet so you can incorporate them into songs easier. This is also not a good way to play original music because it leaves too much room for interpretation.
Guitar chords come in two options: basic and barre chords. There are numerous chords, but learning the basics becomes the gateway to understanding the more complex ones. Barre chords are more challenging, so you'll need to practice with the simple chords first.
Chords use chord boxes, with the standard six horizontal lines and three or four horizontal lines representing finger placement on your guitar. You can find these chord boxes on the internet, and this is an excellent way for beginners to learn to play the guitar.
Challenges of Learning Chord
Playing chords is only feasible when you're playing along with your favorite music. Learning chords alone won't help you follow along with melodies and riffs.
Best Free Classical Guitar Sites
M Files provides free guitar sheet music from composers separated into three categories: Fernando Sor, Fransisco Tarrega, and other composers such as Luis de Narvaez. You can also access classical pieces written for other instruments but adapted for guitar from composers such as J. S. Bach, Beethoven, and Schubert. All these files are downloadable either as audio files or pdf.
Classical Guitar Shed is a site dedicated to guitar playing courses. Although you have to pay for the courses, the website allows you to download several basic music sheets in pdf versions.
The site offers traditional notations and tabs from different composers, including Fernando Sor and Francisco Tarrega. Find beginner guitar music sheets and tabs from the site's musical staff that you can download and print free of charge.
The site even allows you to share the sheets without charging for them, as long as you credit the owner, Allen Matthews.
8 Notes is based in St. Albans, England. This site is the go-to destination for sheet music for beginners and experienced musicians alike. Here you'll find comprehensive resources for musicians, including tuners, chord charts, tabs, and guitar lessons for guitarists of all experience levels.
The team at 8 Notes comprises freelance composers who create beginner sheets under the guidance of David Bruce, a renowned composer. You can download these sheets as pdfs or as mp3 audio files.
8 Notes offer standalone sheets, piano play-along, or band play-along audio files. Each sheet comes with a brief snippet of the composer's history.
John Wakelin offers the ultimate free sheet music library with numerous composers and over 1,400 solo and chamber sheets. The classical guitar sheet library comprises classical guitar pieces for duos, trios, and quartets. You can also find sheet music for music organ combos such as the guitar, cello, mandolin, piano, violin, and voice.
The library is arranged by artist in alphabetic order to make it easy to find your favorite composer. The website belongs to a guitar school based in New Zealand. You can also learn quality guitar lessons from the founder John Wakelin, a seasoned guitar player.
Delcamp.net offers complete guitar pieces from numerous famous composers, including trios, quartets, and quintets for you to practice with. You can also download these compositions and pdf annotations, mp3 audio versions, and tabs. You can even find video tutorials on their Youtube page accessible from the website.
Werner provides pdf notation sheet music, tabs, and videos full of classical music. These sheets are categorized into educational series, books, and repertoire collections. The website also includes guitar lesson pdfs, scales, and arpeggios. The first volumes are also free to download.
We have already established how integral sheet music is for classical music, regardless of the instrument you want to use. The classical guitar is kind to your hands because of its softer strings than a standard acoustic guitar.
The softer strings help you, especially when you're constantly practicing. You will get fewer calluses than someone using the steel-string acoustic guitar when learning other music types, such as pop and rock.
The best thing about classical guitars is that they are smaller and cheaper than steel-string guitars. Add free classical guitar sheet music and lessons on youtube, making your start-up costs even lower.