Sheet Music

Sheet Music Database

Our Sheet Music database is very searchable using any or all of the following - Composer name, Title, Musical standard, Exam board and Grade of piece both that of the exam boards and also our own Stafford Guitar grading.

Our aim is to not only bring you the up to date exam syllabus but also a selection of music we have enjoyed over our years of playing. The Stafford Guitar grading is to help you when selecting new pieces to learn.

In addition you will find Selina’s review of a piece or book helpful and again these reviews are carried out to help with your choice.

We are also happy to obtain music that we currently do not stock so if there is a book or piece you would like call and we will attempt to find it for you.

Sheet Music Database

musponcevalse

Valse

Manuel M Ponce

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Ponce was in fact born in Mexico City but by 1904 was living in Europe where he studied music in Bologna and Berlin. In 1925, after a spell back in Mexico, he was inspired to make the move to the French capital. It was a stay that was to last seven years and was arguably his most creative period. It was when he met Andres Segovia in 1923 that he began to compose music for guitar.

Skill Level
Advanced

This is a new to piece to me and I enjoyed playing through so much I have decided to learn it properly!

It is so full of life making full use of the powerful resonance of a guitar with dropped ‘D’ tuning.

The strong and bright main theme has an almost ‘rustic’ feel accompanied by full strummed chords and moves at a lively one in a bar pace.

The articulation and musical directions are detailed and need good control, the articulation particularly bringing loads of texture and shaping to the music.

The main theme has a lot of contrast in register and dynamic and is repeated throughout the piece giving it its structure with great, unexpected harmonies and twists in direction in between.

The centre section changes key to B?. It has more chromatic movement and emphasis on melodic lines in the treble and bass with fewer chords in the accompaniment texture.

I love the falling bass line building up to the return to D major. In contrast to the full and energetic theme the ending is ‘grazioso’ and understated – a lovely surprise!

This little Valse has fantastic movement and swing throughout, making full use of the tone colours in the guitars voice, and leaving you with a definite ‘feel good’ feeling – an excellent little repertoire filler.

Selina.

musdodgsonodetotheguitar

Ode to the Guitar

Stephen Dodgson

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Stephen Dodgson was educated at the Royal College of Music, where he later taught theory and composition. His guitar music has gained recognition, despite the fact that he does not play the instrument himself. His remarkable grasp of the instrument’s capabilities in a distinctly non-Spanish idiom deserves to be heard more widely. John Williams premiered many of his guitar works, including the first Partita and the first guitar concerto.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

This book is “A Sequence of 10 Miniatures’ written by a composer with a great pedigree in writing original and ‘far reaching’ music for the classical guitar.

By that I mean that the music stretches our technical abilities and musical ideas and has been very important in the development of the guitar repertoire in the 20th century.

In his preface Dodgson describes his collaboration with Hector Quine in writing a series of technical studies to complement a rapidly expanding guitar repertoire. After 20 years there was a pause in writing and although many aspects of technique had been explored Dodgson felt that there was one vital element missing – the expressive requirement. In this volume he set out to provide ”a strongly coloured miniature which will encourage the right hand to give voice to a full range of expression”

I think that he has achieved his aim with these miniatures and has gone beyond that in introducing guitarists to a truly contemporary style and new musical language, developing reading and interpretation skills as well as musical imagination.

The old excuse of “I can’t learn the piece because I don’t know the tune!” doesn’t work with these pieces.

The titles are very important, supplemented by ‘character’ and ‘feeling’ words in place of traditional tempo markings or expressions; for example ‘brisk and impish ‘,’radiant and sustained’ and ’menacing and intense’, which send direct messages to the fingers before you have even listened to the music!

There is of course a level of technique needed to get the most from this music, but I think that it also helps to develop this from the angle of tone colour, texture, spirit and story telling. The ability to listen and use your imagination is very important throughout the learning process, as is a strong rhythmical feel. A lot of the harmony is dissonant and unusual but there are also plenty of recognizable features to help you to develop an understanding of the style. The pieces use the whole range of the guitar in a very free flowing manner and even though the positions and shapes may be unfamiliar the music is very well written for the guitar both technically and musically. Fingering is used sparingly encouraging the player to explore.

  1. Ode to the Guitar - arpeggio figures punctuating slow melodic lines;
  2. Ragged Robin (grade 6) – clever use of the left hand around the fretboard giving the cheeky and impish character required, with small motifs linking and giving direction;
  3. Rainbow – constant flowing semiquavers where the player needs to listen to the harmony for shape and direction. It is particularly important to read the musical instruction here;
  4. Ghost Story (grade 7) – the melody and harmony are very contemporary with the melodic intervals and dissonances giving it the sinister and menacing feel;
  5. Drowsy Head – clear melody and direction with fingering patterns and a great mental picture to follow!
  6. O Pussy my love – a serenade feel and ideal pulsing accompaniment with a stretched rhythm to challenge you and detailed and tricky left hand work;
  7. Call, and I follow – lively and tricky requiring a light touch and good counting!
  8. Sirins (grade 6) – one of my favorites with clever use of subtly changing harmonies and lilting pulse;
  9. Hornets Nest (grade 8) – great fun with detailed left hand work cleverly under the fingers even if they have to move to get there!
  10. Villanelle – rustic with great spirit in the rhythm, range and lovely bass melodies.

To conclude, these pieces really are small windows onto emotional feelings and characters and as Dodgson says of the benefits of learning; “an awakened imagination is the spark; the reward, a tiny concert piece that sounds like one.”

Selina.

muspaggrandsonata

Grand Sonata

Nicolò Paganini

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Niccolò Paganini was an Italian violinist, violist, guitarist, and composer. He was one of the most celebrated violin virtuosi of his time, and left his mark as one of the pillars of modern violin technique. There is a very short preface to this edition in which the editor explains that the original was for guitar with violin accompaniment, but the part allocated to the violin is so modest as to be hardly worth the effort

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

There is a very short preface to this edition in which the editor explains that the original was for guitar with violin accompaniment, but the part allocated to the violin is so modest as to be hardly worth the effort!

Paganini played both the violin and guitar to virtuoso level and so composed his pieces for the instrument that he was playing with the other generally having a very simple accompaniment roll. The editor explains that the wealth of musical structure and invention in the Grand Sonata makes it worthwhile incorporating the violin part into a solo guitar piece, and it does make a very successful, exciting and virtuosic composition.

There is no doubt that you have to have a very good mastery of the guitar as well as relaxed technique and freedom of movement to pull this one off successfully, although the Romanze which is the choice in the grade 8 list is a good and more accessible opening to the style, being slightly slower in tempo!

The first movement Allegro risoluto is quite extensive and has some charming singing melodies that link throughout the movement. The variety of textures created using flowing octaves, arpeggio figures and alberti bass accompaniment is very reflective of the classical period, really bringing the guitar into the mainstream of musical style and development. The challenge is to make it all work so that you can hear the drama excitement intended by the composer through freely and quickly flowing notes and movement all over the fingerboard.

The Romanze has a lovely melancholy with its simple, lilting melody. Here the challenge is to maintain this simple feel while dealing with demisemiquaver accompaniment and melody notes doubled variously in thirds, sixths, octaves and tenths. There is also a lot of freedom implied and required in the music, really giving it the feel of a cadenza.

The final movement is in the form of a Theme and 6 variations. The theme is a very jaunty tune with a dotted rhythm that is almost shouting out to be decorated! Paganini does this using triplet rhythms, movement in all intervals both together and split, slur patterns, rapid repeated notes over melody in the bass, and, in variation 6 some loud slurring to open strings and a lot of very quick and unusual chromatic movement. In fact the piece ends in an unexpected way with a repeated and disappearing chromatic motif that is actually very effective.

All in all this is an exciting and impressive piece with lots of detail to find and explore, very good for your technical development and simply good fun to play!

Selina.

muscoste25etuden

Coste 25 Etuden OP38

Napoleon Coste

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Napoleon Coste was a gifted guitarist who established himself as a teacher while still a teenager. He moved to Paris, where his brilliant technique placed him among the great guitarists of his generation. His Twenty-five Etudes are one of the guitar repertory's finest set of concert studies, notable for their attractive melodies and brilliant cadenzas.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced

I know this set of studies well due to them holding a very important place in my technical development – I will come to that later!

In general, however I think that they are less well known and played than some of the other study repertoire from this period. This is a great shame because there are some great little pieces here with excellent technical development material.

The pieces are quite challenging, going from about grade 5 standard up to advanced.

For me, the things that stand out in this collection are fingerboard knowledge and musicianship. I am always talking about knowledge of the notes leading to greater fluency and musical direction, although it can be something that is difficult to achieve if it has not been there from the beginning. These pieces make no compromise in movement around the fingerboard, chord changing and general left hand freedom. They pretty much cover every single note up to the 12th fret, on every string – in one case probably all in one piece!

This may be frustrating at first but really focuses the mind and encourages you to learn in order to achieve the desired results.

The musical content is varied and engaging with some very interesting harmonies, rhythms, textures and colours. The studies particularly highlight harmonic sequences encouraging you to listen to voices to shape the music.

Technically all the basics are covered and developed including arpeggio and scale patterns, slurs, right hand patterns and speed of articulation, movement in thirds, sixths and octaves, alberti accompaniment figures and fully accompanied melodies.

All of the technical movement around the guitar seems to have musical purpose so that you find yourself really developing the link between sound and movement and so ‘feeling’ the momentum and shape under your fingers. I found this particularly satisfying and a big help when I was struggling with some of the technique!

I have not got the space to talk about every piece but will mention some of my highlights.

No.1 gives a taste of what is to come with its simple chord sequence and variation that gives you the chance to listen to, and feel the harmonic movement without having too many notes to think about. No.4 has a lovely, simple melody with chords on almost every beat and no compromise in movement around the fingerboard i.e. some tricky jumps. It is an excellent exercise in playing melodically (that is horizontally) in more than one voice. No.6 has a long line of melody over a lovely triplet accompaniment, using rests in the accompaniment to great effect. No.7 (Associated Board grade 7) has a strong and compelling character highlighting the guitar’s contrapuntal abilities and challenging the player to hear all of the voices.

I love the lower line melody in No.10 (Associated Board grade 8). This piece has great character and requires real control of lines and rhythm and finishes with a contrasting, smoother major section. No.12 (TrinityGuildhall grade 7) creates drama through lots of movement in semiquaver chords, big interval jumps and full harmonies while No.13 is altogether lighter with arpeggio thirds in higher registers using sliding shapes to produce long sequences. No. 15 has a brilliant ‘quirky’ triplet melody built around the chords giving the piece a very individual character. The 3/8 time and repeated semiquaver pedal give No.19 real flow and momentum carrying the melody in thirds through the piece. No. 21 is very difficult because of its constantly moving quaver chords, maintaining three voices for much of the time, and highlighting some unusual harmonies.

My absolute favorite has to be the piece that was a turning point in my studies, opening my eyes to a technique and resulting musicianship that I am still enjoying and developing today! Before playing study No.22 I don’t think that I had ever thought about controlling and stopping bass notes, however this study has a repeating bass rhythm that is as much about rests as it is about notes. Defining this bass line brings a whole different light to the music and is one of the most valuable techniques that I have learnt as well as being enormous fun to play!

I think that this is one set of studies that every dedicated guitarist should own and learn. They teach us as many lessons in musicianship as technique, are very enjoyable to play and highlight the musical abilities of the guitar. Brilliant.

Selina.

musabauralcd3

Aural Training In Practice CD Grades 6 to 8

ABRSM

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Old Syllabus - for practice only. Aural Training In Practice provides clear, structured guidance for candidates preparing for the aural tests in the Associated Board's practical exams. These CDs accompany the Aural Training workbooks. I have used the book and CD with many of my pupils achieving great success. I highly recommend both for those wishing to achieve high marks in their graded exams.

Skill Level
Intermediate
Advanced
musabauralcd2

Aural Training In Practice CD Grades 4 to 5

ABRSM

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Old Syllabus - for practice only. Aural Training In Practice provides clear, structured guidance for candidates preparing for the aural tests in the Associated Board's practical exams. These CDs accompany the Aural Training workbooks. I have used the book and CD with many of my pupils achieving great success. I highly recommend both for those wishing to achieve high marks in their graded exams.

Skill Level
Intermediate
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musabauralcd1

Aural Training In Practice CD Grades 1 to 3

ABRSM

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Old Syllabus - for practice only. Aural Training In Practice provides clear, structured guidance for candidates preparing for the aural tests in the Associated Board's practical exams. These CDs accompany the Aural Training workbooks. I have used the book and CD with many of my pupils achieving great success. I highly recommend both for those wishing to achieve high marks in their graded exams.

Skill Level
Beginner
musabauralbook2

Aural Training In Practice Book 2

ABRSM

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Aural Training In Practice Book 2 provides clear, structured guidance for candidates preparing for the aural tests in the Associated Board's practical examinations. covering grades 4-5. A CD of all exercises covering grades 4-5 is also available. I have used the book and CD with many of my pupils achieving great success. I highly recommend both for those wishing to achieve high marks in their graded exams.

Skill Level
Beginner
Intermediate
musabauralbook1

Aural Training In Practice Book 1

ABRSM

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Aural Training In Practice Book 1 provides clear, structured guidance for candidates preparing for the aural tests in the Associated Board's practical examinations. covering grades 1-3. A CD of all exercises covering grades 1-3 is also available. I have used the book and CD with many of my pupils achieving great success. I highly recommend both for those wishing to achieve high marks in their graded exams.

Skill Level
Beginner
mustwelve

Twelve Inventions

Peter Nuttall

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Covering a wide range of musical styles,these twelve pieces are characterised by strong melodies, idiomatic harmonies and an inventive use of the fingerboard. They have become one of the most popular guitar publications at this level.

Skill Level
Beginner
musgw4

The Guitarists Way Book 4

Peter Nuttall and John Whitworth

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In Book 4 we introduce new and interesting rhythms, continue to develop left and right hand technique, and explore a wider range of keys and musical styles. There is also opportunity for more expressive playing in some of the higher positions. The range of musical styles can be extended further in the follow-up books Diversions and Twelve Inventions.

Skill Level
Beginner
musgw3

The Guitarists Way Book 3

Peter Nuttall and John Whitworth

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An important feature of this book is the development of a secure free stroke technique therough the playing of arpeggios and chords. Second and seventh positions are explored and left hand technique is developed by the introduction of slurs. As in books one and two there is plenty of opportunity for duet and trio playing, and there are many attractive solo pieces.

Skill Level
Beginner
musgw2

The Guitarists Way Book 2

Peter Nuttall and John Whitworth

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Book 2 reinforces the skills learned in book 1. We discover quavers, dotted rhythms and two-note chords, as well as sharps, flats and naturals. The remaining bass notes are introduced through a series of carefully graded melodies.

Skill Level
Beginner
guitaristway1

The Guitarists Way Book 1

Peter Nuttall and John Whitworth

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Book one leads to the playing of simple melodies on the top 3 strings, whilst developing a secure technique in both hands. A few bass note are then introduced, followed by pieces which combine a melody with a simple bass accompaniment.

Skill Level
Beginner
musmoodsblues

Moods n Blues

Peter Nuttall

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A colourful collection of appealing pieces for the early student. Written in a variety of attractive styles - blues, simple flamenco, classical etc. These pieces serve as a very playable and enjoyable introduction to many common guitar techniques and idioms.

Skill Level
Beginner
musintermediate

Intermediate Music for Guitar

John Whitworth

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Sixteen pieces for the student repertoire, in a scholarly but highly accessible edition. Includes music by Sanz, Carulli, Sor, Paganini, Mertz and Van der Staaz.

Skill Level
Beginner
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musgoingplaces

Going Places

Peter Nuttall

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An attractive travelog of styles from around the world. Ideal simple recital pieces for early years students - melodic, varied and effective.

Skill Level
Beginner
161

The Enchanted Forest

Peter Nuttall

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One delightful (two page) piece with a haunting melody, introducing the student to classical tremolo technique. A must for all aspiring guitarists.

Skill Level
Beginner

This lovely little piece definitely fills a gap in technical development for guitar students in that it gives us the chance to start learning about and developing tremolo technique at a much earlier stage in our learning.

Tremolo involves rapid right hand finger articulation, usually in a “p a m i” pattern designed to give the impression of long sustained notes which can then form a melody or act as an accompaniment or counter melody to a bass melody.

There are a few easier studies from the 19th century using this type of technique but all of the main pieces are advanced repertoire, most famously Recuerdos De La Alhambra by Tarrega.

The Enchanted Forest uses simple Left Hand fingering with no quick changes to notes and positions in the tremolo line.

The left hand consists mostly of half barre shapes moving up and down the fingerboard with some easy fingering around that. The bass line is very good for working on travel of the thumb across the strings and is easy to hear and shape as a musical line. Both the bass and tremolo notes are to be highlighted rather than one being purely accompaniment.

The thumb has a low string to stretch to at the beginning of each bar and then mostly alternates closer to the fingers, much easier for the tremolo novice!

The earlier that we can start working on this technique the better as it can become a natural part of the way that we use our fingers and this piece offers a fantastic opportunity for that and for enjoying a beautiful, little musical experience.

Selina.

museightsolos

Eight Original Solo's for Guitar

Peter Nuttall

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An appealing companion volume to the Twelve Inventions. Attractive melodies, inventive harmonies and an interesting variety of musical styles...Lyrical, highly guitaristic music, easily accessible to the student guitarist.

Skill Level
Beginner
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musplayford

Playford Fantasia

John Whitworth

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This imaginative and evocative piece is a continuous set of variations on the English dance tune Goddesses, and provides a rare opportunity at this level to play and experience a work of real substance. It has a distinctive English flavour.

Skill Level
Intermediate
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