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Classical Guitar Lessons: Sor: Opus No. 9 Variations

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The Opus 9,
Multard Variations by Fernando Sore is
one of the war horses of the repertoire.
And we're just gonna do a multi-part
multi-part lessons on it to just take you
through each of the challenges of, of the
introduction theme and variations.
The theme is taken from Mozart's Magic
Flute Opera.
And it was customary in those days, I mean
in the classical era for,
for Mozart certainly, to write a set of
variations on a popular area of the time.
And, since Mozart was really, composing,
you know, great, great operas.
During that time a lot of those tunes were
well known, throughout society and so,
as for any composer would take a popular
area, and
then set their own variations to it.
The variations would be something of like
their own sort of take using the the,
the chord progression and some of the
melodic materials sometimes too.
But the variation piece gave a composer a
freedom to,
to really write their own piece.
And but being inspired by some material.
So and, and theme and variation pieces are
written to this day and
probably always will be.
So the, I'm just gonna take you through
section by section.
The biggest challenge in the introduction
is good time keeping.
And and a common pulse that happens
There's nothing quite so unsatisfying
hearing a performance
of this piece as a shifting pulse that
starts out quickly.
You know,
and then.
And then hearing a different pulse here.
Now since there are different rhythms,
there's a lot of dotted rhythms with 16th
notes, and double dots, and long,
you know, large half notes and triplet 8th
notes, and this sort of things.
It is a challenge, but
if you can find the tempo as you'll see in
my lesson on the performance of it,
you can find the tempo where all of them
basically feel and sound good.
It's an important thing to maintain that
pulse throughout because that's what gets
across, the more of the kind of the
foreboding character of the introduction.
It should have a portentous kind of,
quality to it.
You can steal my wacky fingering for the
harmonic section, if you like.
That's more of a effort on my part to get
more of the linear nature of,
of that going on there, by going.
So instead of playing the autenato B on
open strings, I play it on closed string
and that allows me to.
That allows each of these harmonics to
ring all the way through the measure.
And then the, the voices in thirds then
come in,
also on different strings as well.
that's my own
sort of twist on
those fingers.
Going on to, oh, one last thing in the
I hear a lot of students
playing those in a different
rhythm than what's printed, so.
Again, there's a lot of,
there's a wide variety of rhythms just in
the introduction.
So just make sure that, that your rhythm
your pulse are in line with all the rest
of the rhythms.
I, I usually have, you know, my, I think
what helps for me, what always helped up,
for me was the longer rhythms.
Like, [SOUND] like in the very beginning.
And that's a double dot, folks, not.
You'll hear that a lot but
don't be influenced by it.
It should be a double dotted.
One, two, three, four,
and that should match up with your
the triplet eighth notes.
And then at the end, one, two, three,
four, like that.
So that's as long as you find a, find a
good pulse that, where they all match up,
that, it's really the best way to play it.
So anyway, going on to the theme.
The theme is, is surprisingly tough to
play because the voices are really
like tight together and on the strings
Much has been made of this nasty,
this nasty ornament.
Try to play it on the beat so that,
if I slow the rhythm down,
Try to play that;
try to place it on the beat.
It, it means you have to be a little
quicker with it.
And then it, but
my recommendation is try to, try to be
really quick with it.
you'll still have plenty of time to get
the rest of that dotted rhythm.
You hear a lot of
A lot of playing before the beat, but
it puts a weird sort of accent on the, on
the rhythm there.
This shift is very tough, so I'd recommend
a break down for that.
Use fingerings
two and four here.
You're shifting to three and four.
At least you have your fourth finger on
the second string as an anchor.
If you get that move down, it's, it's,
it's much easier.
Do not try to place your, the whole chord,
do not try to block the whole chord down
with the second finger and everything.
It only makes it much harder than it needs
to be.
the only fingers that
are coming down are one, three and four,
cuz they all arrive at the same time and
then, place your second finger.
Going onto the first variation,
this is one of the tougher pieces.
For some players, it's the toughest
variation in the piece,
I think it certainly is for me.
because it requires mastery of descending
slurs or pull-offs.
So, that's a section that can be, of
course, broken down measure by measure.
You know, at many slow speeds.
And I recommend, if the final tempo you're
shooting for
you know, then I would recommend,
probably half of that speed to start with.
another fingering.
Of course the traditional fingering is
zero, one, three, four, one, three, four.
Or you can play it without slurs like
Or you can play it rest stroke.
I think I did that for
a couple of seasons.
It's good in a larger concert hall to play
rest stroke on those scales.
So starting at half speed
and really just make sure
your slurs are all nice and crisp.
As you start getting to the higher tempos.
I mean you can make a metronome chart that
basically goes from half speed and
probably travels through about six or
seven different metronome tempos.
As you're getting toward the faster ones,
that's when you can start to do breakdowns
with more, some things like this where you
do looping.
Where you get a few
repetitions on each cell.
That's another one.
I take a note out.
I take the note out of that B chord on the
third string.
I just play three notes in that chord.
The B, F-sharp, and the D.
So on and
so forth.
You'll find that by doing that,
by looping things pretty quickly at the
faster tempos.
You get a lot of repetitions in a very
short period of time.
Going on to the second variation and
this'll be the last variation we cover in
this lesson.
There'll be another lesson that covers the
remaining the remainder of the piece.
The second variation of course is much
slower and
has a, a melancholy kind of feeling to it.
Fernando Sor, the, it was also customary
to make one of the, make one or
more of your variations in a minor key.
So this is basically.
That, that melodic fragment now is this.
So a very nice treatment of the same
melodic material, but in a minor key.
Try to play with a warmer sound.
More dolce.
Don't forget your your phrase direction,
you're going towards this.
Suspended B dominant seven chord which is
a suspension and then resolves.
Same thing here.
It's not a bad idea to roll
the suspension.
And then play the resolution solid.
In order to get across, it helps, rolling,
you can think of as actually another type
of articulation just like playing short
notes versus long notes or staccato versus
Rolling a chord is, is,
is an articulation that gives a chord
heaviness rather than likeness.
And that's basically the second variation.
So, in a next lesson another part of Sor
Opus Stein we will cover
the rest of the variations.
In this segment, we're gonna cover
the rest of the variations in the Coda
Opus Nine Mozart variations by Fernando
The third variation where we left off last
time, the second variation had a,
had a bit more of a melancholy feeling to
The second and third variations I think of
as kind of a pair.
In, in the sense that the fourth and fifth
variations are a pair as well.
They're, they're speedier and like to play
them more or less right into each other.
And I feel the same way about the second
and third.
This, the third has a smoother, more
legato kind of, texture and a sound to it.
But it's, noticeably brighter.
It has a, a, a little bit more of a, of a
cheery disposition, but
without the activity and the, articulated
nature of the fourth variation.
So playing with a nice legato sound.
Again your sweep strokes in your right
It's very hard to get a legato sound
if you're stopping at the string and
planting every time.
Going through here,
this is a very tough stretch there.
Practice that slowly.
It's, it's tricky because you have to do a
slur but you can't,
you don't wanna hit that second string.
That's very close to your finger there.
I mean in concert I just take my time on
You know I just kinda allow my,
my left hand to get there and then, then I
In this, there's a rhythmic thing here,
this is a sextuplet, so if I play that
slowly, I'll break down for you exactly
what that rhythm sounds like literally.
A pretty boring repetit,
rendition right there.
But, but it gives you a sense of exactly
what the rhythm is.
And you should be able to play
a more complex rhythm like that literally
like that.
Same goes for the second variation.
There's a, there's a,
there's a rhythm that gets mangled often
in the second variation.
It's another sextuple as well.
It's kind of a round
rhythm within a square rhythm.
let me play that, I know I'm going
back to the second variation,
but just so you hear that
That's the second variation sextuplet,
played very, very literally.
And then you can apply some vibrato to it,
when you really have an understanding of
the rhythm and it's internalized.
It's something more like this.
you don't need much.
It only takes a little bit of rubato so
going back to the third it's same thing.
Once you have an understanding of the the
basic rhythm,
then you can apply a little bit of rubato
And I think that's pretty much the you
know, it for the for the third variation.
Going on to the fourth, the fourth and
the fifth are have a little bit more of
the speed kind of thing.
The fourth has this kind of jumpy kind of
sound to it very light and
quick very sunny.
Your left hand can
be light as a feather on this.
All it needs to do is touch each of the
strings and I even stop the sound
with the rests that are indicated just by
lifting my left hand.
It's that's all that's needed there.
There, of course,
I have to
I have to damp with my thumb because
it's an open bass string.
But there's also a left hand damp that you
can do that, for that, measure.
You can kinda use your third and fourth
fingers there.
Just make sure you get them back
up here for this.
The second half of
that fourth variation
This, of course, the challenge there is
really getting this even, so
you wanna really make sure that your slur
is even and not rushed.
I can't tell you how many repetitions over
how many years I've done on that at many,
many different speeds on the metronome.
By the way there will be a lesson on how
to use the metronome to,
to build up your speed on passages.
Now I'm accenting the beginning of that
figure, [SOUND].
But it's also good to, you can put the
accent the other way.
And you might, and you may find that that
helps you execute it a little bit better,
and may find that it helps it.
A little bit easier to play lighter at the
beginning of that
and crescendo into the base.
And I've performed them both with that,
both inflexions like that before.
Going into the fifth variation.
It's kind of the,
the Eddie VanHalen sounding variation.
This is really like a, a timing pattern.
Not unlike a, sort of the, the rhythm bag,
that small punching bag that boxers use.
If you get the timing down right,
you can get it going really fast with with
not a lot of effort.
I recommend for, for
basically any time, the first and
second halves before we get to
the second phrase.
I recommend just placing lightly your
thumb planting it lightly on
the third string.
You're just using M, I,
,M, I, M, I.
If you're having trouble with it, I mean
it's not, it's for some,
for some you know, it may not be easy to
get that going right away.
So you can, rather than worry about the
left hand at first you can really
just take each, each shift in the left
hand and repeat with the right hand.
I, I sort of call this looping.
As many times as you like.
And just to get the sensation of the
timing pattern between the right and
the left hands, that synchronization
between the right and left hands.
That's basically doing four reps per shift
or, or, per beat on that measure and
that can really get you, get you going on
a synchronization without
having to wait for the left hand to catch
up with the shifts.
The shifting of course is another thing
which we're, which we're gonna,
breakdowns can help that.
This thing working in small sections and
then piecing them back together will help
For the latter half of the first and
second repeat of the fifth variation the
pattern changes, of course.
And I use, I use IPM, IPM, but
you could, but MPI, MPI works just as
I've seen some fingerings that use AIM,
If you can get it pretty fast that way,
that's great.
I find that just the, this feeling of
having some up strokes in the hand and
a down stroke with the thumb provides kind
of like more of a circular motion
that really fits the thing better for me
so you may wanna try that as well if you,
if you haven't yet.
And again, just to get used that to get it
with a lot of speed.
You can just
play several of
these repetitions
per shift
And that really helps, and actually helps
you also focus on your shifting,
because you get time in between each shift
to regard your left hand as well.
One last thing in the fourth variation I
didn't mention my fingering
choice that I use in the right hand for
the fourth variation.
This bit right here in the first half.
I use A, I, M,
and then P, A for the double stop.
So [SOUND] A, I, M, P, A.
That's my fingering for the fourth
And now for the coda, very tricky section.
Kind of a, little of a mini obstacle
course of a lot of things.
The important thing there is to keep the
melody out in front
It's again, it's kind of like it's,
it's a, it's a melody floated on the top
of an arpeggiated pattern.
And once again it's, it's, it's another
in itself on the repeated note nature of
the, of the theme.
So you want to play those repeated notes
with direction towards, towards the ends
of the phrase.
This is kind of a tough spot for me.
Just cuz there's some shifting involved.
You can break down, I, I found for
myself that breaking that into two halves
is really helpful.
And then
So I can just practice the top end of
Okay, going on from there.
I recommend MIP and
then throw that A in there for the dotted
And then right back to MIP.
That's a very important technique in 19th
Century to get in the right hand.
The, the, the, sorta, and when you're
playing some, a lot of dotted rhythms like
that, you have to have a really fast note
right before a chord, use the free
finger that's not being played on the,
that's not being used to play the chords.
So, if you're playing MIP here.
Just throw that A finger in for the single
dotted rhythm note.
That, that and that holds true for any
kind of thing with dotted rhythms.
The, the, the this is the traditional
finger, if you find that it's just a
little bit awkward like I do,
you can just go to, you can use this
configuration of that chord.
C, G, D flat, open E.
Just make sure to put a little bit more
juice in to the M finger, so
that the, so that your, your, B flat,
played on the second string is, is
probably the loudest note.
And then,
the two scales.
I like to play the fist scale very loud
and very articulated with a rest stroke.
Like that.
And I finger it in such a way that it's
three stroke, three notes per string.
You can break that scale down as well.
Also practice the s,
scale many different speeds, practice its
That will help strengthen your tip joints
and give you more flexibility.
I've the second time this scale happens.
I like to,
I kinda have my own slur pattern for it.
Same left handed fingering but I pluck
each string.
And then slur the notes.