This database can be used in many ways, but its main purpose is to provide an easy way for players to search for music that they may want to play. It has many searchable categories that can be used in conjunction with one another, including by title, composer, era, length, and difficulty.
It is growing more common to add guitar into the classroom in schools, but still the majority of music teachers are not classical guitarists themselves. This database will hopefully provide a tool for them to help their students get the most out of the repertoire, as well as help students find new material for themselves.
Not only will this hopefully help find pieces of music to choose to play, it will hopefully also help choose the best edition and correct some possible errors in the music. Music stores are full of an intimidating mountain of classical sheet music, and many of the editions are riddled with mistakes and poor choices for fingerings. I have tried to not only grade each piece, but also compare them to other editions of the same music.
Pieces are graded for difficulty on a scale of 1 to 20. Difficulty is based on various factors such as playability: difficulty of chords, fingerings, scales, right hand techniques; and musical factors: use of dynamics, articulation, guitaristic techniques like rasgueados and percussive techniques.
A grade of 1 through 5 is recommended for beginners: players in their first year of classical guitar playing. This would include players that are already playing non-classical guitar but may not be reading music or familiar with classical guitar techniques.
A grade of 6 through 10 is recommended for intermediate performers. These performers should have a good understanding of accidentals, some higher positions, barre chords, and playing multiple voices at once. Pieces near the top end of this difficulty level may be appropriate for audition to college guitar programs.
A grade of 11 through 15 is recommended for advanced performers. Most of these pieces are recommended for college level performers. Most of them include more complicated techniques such as complicated right and left hand arpeggios, difficult runs, complex chord forms, and fast transitions around the neck.
A grade of 16 through 20 is recommended for professional performers. These include graduate level students and concert professionals.
These grades are not absolute, and it is very possible for a student to play above their own difficulty level given an abundance of practice. However, these grades are based on a usual practice schedule, given an average amount of time.
Reading difficulty is based on a scale of 1 through 10. A level 1 grade typically means that there is little positions used above the first, an easy key signature and meter signature, simple rhythms, an uncomplicated texture, and few accidentals. The increasing occurrence of these factors as well as modern techniques and notation will increase the reading score.
The position grade is given in Roman Numerals, using I through XIV, as well as ‘All.’ This refers to the highest fret the first finger on the left hand will need to move to. A grade of ‘All’ means that there is a lot of notes used on the highest part of the neck.
Length is rated as: Short, Medium-short, Medium, Medium-long, Long, and Very Long. This refers to the amount of time to read through the piece on the page once it has been learned. However, I have ignored repeats in most circumstances, particularly in binary pieces where performers may or may not choose to take repeats. Thus, the length grade is more about how long the piece will take to learn, and duplicate sections are treated as adding time to the piece length for performance, but not mastery.
At the end of each entry, I try to make some notes discussing primarily differentiating features of the piece and difficulties that would be faced while learning it. Some of these comments refer to music history and theory, and although I typically try to keep my own personal likes or dislikes about a piece out, I will generally recommend pieces that I find work well or that are well known, and dissuade performers for editions I find inferior.
The Title is typically taken directly off of the piece of music. Thus, depending on the edition, the same piece of music may be titled differently, depending on language or source. I typically try to include as much information as possible, including Opus numbers, written as Op. X no. X.
Performers are typically listed with full names, first name in front. Once again, I write it as it is written in the score, which gives a bit of differentiation (for example, Handel’s middle name is listed as Friderich as well as Friederich.) I do list Johann Sebastian Bach as J.S. Bach.
The Publisher is listed as an aid to help find and order music.
For pieces that come in anthologies or with more then one piece, the name of the source is listed. Two examples would be The Library of Guitar Classics, V. 1, which is a large book that has over 50 pieces by multiple composers, and the Dyens music which merely contains two pieces, although they are unconnected. So pieces with multiple movements such as Dyens Libra Sonatine are listed without a source, as are Suites.
The musical era for each piece is based not necessarily on the date the composition was written, but also the style. Many guitar composers wrote in a style that often lagged behind their contemporaries in orchestral, piano and choral music. A prime example would be Barrios, who wrote music through much of the early part of the Modern era, yet whose pieces resemble the Romantic Era. Anonymous traditional pieces are also listed as ‘Traditional’ (i.e. Simple Gifts).