Can you suggest an order of difficulty/playing for Carcassi’s 25 Etudes opus 60?
No.1 is clearly not the easiest and might be approached later.
The playing suggestions for Sor’s Complete Studies by Richard Savino are very helpful.
Carcassi Studies – playing/ difficulty order
These studies are really essential repertoire for guitarists of all levels as they tackle technique and musicianship from so many different angles as well as helping with knowledge of key signatures and harmonies.
They are not presented in order of difficulty and in most cases difficulty would need to be assessed depending on the technical and/or musical aspect that you are focusing on.
I think it is helpful to loosely group the studies in this way and, as you can see, to put some studies into more than one group if necessary.
I have also noted which hand is the main focus although this is only a general point.
For example in the studies with obvious RH arpeggio patterns the left hand movement often requires a lot of attention!
Below I have put the studies for each group in their order of difficulty.
Melodic (LH): 6, 14, 1, 11, 18.
Repeated notes (RH): 9, 2, 13, 16.
Arpeggio patterns (RH): 3, 2, 19, 7, 12, 15.
Slurs (LH): 7, 4, 8, 10.
Alternating patterns, thumb and fingers (LH): 5, 17.
Bass (thumb) melody/ agility (RH): 6, 12, 13, 11, 17.
Highlighting melody: 6, 19, 16.
It is really fascinating when you start to look in more detail at what may be seen as difficult. For example, the balance of the melody against the accompaniment in no.19 is difficult as is maintaining the repeated ‘alternating’ right hand pattern without building tension but it is in mostly lower positions using ‘easier’ notes.
There are also extra details that make a study more difficult as you go into detail, for example the rests in 16 and 11.
Overall if you are looking to take on the challenge of a study as it presents itself rather than finding a study to practice a specific technique I would start with 6, 9, 14, 2, 3, 7 19 and 8.
4, 5, 10, 11 would be my next group followed by 15 to 18.
20 to 25 are the advanced studies as they include multiple techniques and much more difficult musical shaping and control. For example:
20 – very fluid, quick and relaxed movement of the LH across the whole fingerboard;
21 – musical control of the melody punctuated by repeated chords;
22 – left hand agility combined with RH movement across strings (organized fingering)
23 – slurs combined with fluid movement for both hands and long phrases;
24 – musical ‘virtuosity’!
25 – technical ‘virtuosity!
These last 2 studies definitely represent a coming together of all that you have learned working through opus 60.
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