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Francisco Trrega Recuerdos de la Alhambra

Francisco Tárrega, "Recuerdos de la Alhambra"

Version and Fingering: Renato Bellucci

Recuerdos de la Alhambra is the one piece that every committed guitar
player must play in order to feel like his fingers can do just about
anything. "Recuerdos is a major achievement for the guitar player".

Francisco
Tárrega is "the first real guitar composer". He was a Spaniard and he
knew the guitar thoroughly.  His composition skills were simply perfect
for the modern guitar. Unlike Sor and Giuliani, Tarrega's pieces were "the perfect match between the modern guitar and the soul of Spain."

Recuerdos de la Alhambra is a tremolo piece. Tremolo is a musical idea that comes from the mandolin family of instruments. As the player plays the tremolo with the a, m and i fingers, the thumb plays a nostalgic melody in a contrapuntal style.

You do not learn tremolo first and then you play Recuerdos. You learn tremolo as you learn Recuerdos.

Play the tremolo sequence as 3 consecutive notes. Do not force speed on the tremolo because speed is supposed to come naturally with tremolo after a few days. As you are learning the piece, put a little accent on the second note of the tremolo. This will help even out the overall sound by the time you pick up speed.

Feel the string with every strike of the right hand fingers and plant the a finger precisely because, depending on how precise you are with the a finger, your tremolo will be more or less fluid.

In order to achieve fluidity in Recuerdos de la Alhambra, I worked on several fingering possibilities. The one I publish below is the best I have come up with to this date.

Tremolo Explained

The typical problem with the study of tremolo is that most players want to start playing it as such. It is such a complex and at the same time relaxed guitar technique that only those players that approached the study of tremolo in the right manner will eventually play a beautiful tremolo. You must become very good friends with your metronome, and if the metronome is not yet one of your best practice friends, you better considering making him one urgently. I recommend the old style pendular ones because they also train your eye sight and this comes in handy when playing with other musicians. Start off at 80 beats per minute and increase gradually. Only increase the speed when you are able to play flawlessly for 30 seconds non stop. No exceptions. The training of the fingers in the performance of tremolo starts by feeling each string with the tip of each finger. Feeling the strings makes the right hand feel secure because she's most too often neglected your sight to guide her, therefore, she has to develop her own sense of sight and that is the sense of touch.

Depicted above is the place on the fingertip where the plucking of the second string happens during tremolo. The flesh at the tip of the a finger is touching the string and is acting as a staccato. By forcing the right hand to plant on the string, you are teaching the hand how to stay very close to the strings at all times and you will be using the larger more effective muscle groups in the hand. Touching the string gives you control on the exact sound you want to produce. Following this frame comes the plucking itself... the nail goes through the string and, depending on the angle at which you attack the string you will achieve a fuller or thinner sound. The palette you can achieve depending on you mastery and the quality of your instrument is practically speaking endless. This sequence is repeated relentlessly during  tremolo piece. The trained hand will do its work and will only need minor adjustments from the player.

Tremolo Explained Part 1

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Understand the concept of planting. I often refer to it in my teaching as feel the string. What you do is develop the sense of touch to the point where you feel each note being created at the tip of your finger.

Tremolo Explained Part 2

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How to practice tremolo: Practice tremolo but think: "3 notes played in sequence on the same string". Forget speed. Speed happens.

As you learn Recuerdos (or any other tremolo piece), use the following 3 tremolo formulas to improve your RH coordination and sound evenness: play tremolo using: 1) a-m-i (putting an accent on the m), 2) play the sequence i-m-a (accent on the m) 3) Play the sequence p-a-m-i (accent on the p and m)

Tremolo Explained Part 3

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Staff and Video 1

  Whenever a LH stretch appears, it must be followed by a LH contraction. The left hand must always be evenly balanced. Both stretches and contractions are performed with the participation of the wrist arm and shoulder. Recuerdos starts with a stretch between finger 1 and fingers 3 and 4 right off the bat. As soon as you release the tension that allows the stretch to happen, finger 3 slides automatically from the C to the B on string 3. You relax the hand as soon as the contraction occurs.

You can chose to use the open string E instead of the E on string 2.  

Video 1

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