Classical Guitar Instruction with Douglas Niedt
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CANARIOS

Free guitar sheet music and guitar tab

Canarios, by Gaspar Sanz, is a favorite among classical guitarists. It's vibrant and full of energy. And one of the best things about it is that it sounds great whether you play it at a manageable medium tempo or call on your inner virtuoso to play it like a bat out of hell.

It's a wonderful piece for concerts, gigs, and plain old self-satisfaction. Speaking of gigs, it's especially effective as the recessional for weddings.

You will find many versions of the piece. I am providing four of my favorites. Two are in dropped-D tuning, and two in standard tuning. But the wonderful thing is that you can mix and match the four arrangements. If you don't like measure X in one arrangement, you can grab a version of that measure that you like from another arrangement and insert it.

Plus, some versions have a rasgueado section, but others don't. I like the rasgueados and provide you with several options to play them. You can insert the rasgueados into any version. The strummed, rasgueado style was an important component of playing the Baroque guitar (which is the instrument for which Canarios was composed), and it is entirely appropriate and stylistically correct to include a strumming section in Canarios.

An essential element to understand in the performance of Canarios is the hemiola rhythm. The meter frequently shifts between 3/4 and 6/8 meter. You can interpret some measures either way. If you don't play the changes of meter correctly, the piece will fall flat. For more information, see my technique tip Hemiola: Switching from 6/8 to 3/4 Meter.

Here are four versions of CANARIOS:

Free guitar sheet music and guitar tab

You can download each version in standard notation, standard notation + tab, and tab only.



JOHN WILLIAMS

Guitarist John Williams

John Williams' arrangement is the version I learned first. It sounds good on the modern guitar and is very playable. However, I would suggest you insert a rasgueado section to crank it up even more! This is the version Williams plays on his LP, John Williams Plays Spanish Music, released in the U.S. in 1970, not the YouTube video. The fingerings are my best guess.

Listen to John Williams play Canarios

Start the audio and then immediately click the thumbnail below to view the music as Williams plays. Click the white arrow on each page of music to advance to the next page.

View the sheet music

Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by John Williams, page 1 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by John Williams, page 2 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by John Williams, page 3 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by John Williams, page 4 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by John Williams, page 5 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by John Williams, page 6 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by John Williams, page 7

CHRISTOPHER PARKENING

Guitarist Christopher Parkening

This arrangement is an excellent version written by the American guitar virtuoso, Christopher Parkening. His version includes a rasgueado section, but you can also substitute any of the other rasgueado options I provide below. Parkening includes it in his outstanding collection, Christopher Parkening Solo Pieces.

Cover Christopher Parkening Solo Pieces

This arrangement is the one he plays on his CD, Christopher Parkening-The Great Recordings, not the version he plays in a YouTube video.

Listen to Christopher Parkening play Canarios

Start the audio and then immediately click the thumbnail below to view the music as Parkening plays. Click the white arrow on each page of music to advance to the next page.

View the sheet music

Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Christopher Parkening, page 1 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Christopher Parkening, page 2 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Christopher Parkening, page 3 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Christopher Parkening, page 4 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Christopher Parkening, page 5 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Christopher Parkening, page 6 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Christopher Parkening, page 7 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Christopher Parkening, page 8 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Christopher Parkening, page 9

JULIAN BREAM

Guitarist Julian Bream

I love Julian Bream's very free adaptation of the piece. It is unique and charming. But, try adding a rasgueado section to kick it up a notch. The fingerings are my best-guess.

This is the arrangement he plays on his LP, Julian Bream-Baroque Guitar, released in the U.S. in 1966.

Listen to Julian Bream play Canarios

Start the audio and then immediately click the thumbnail below to view the music as Bream plays. Click the white arrow on each page of music to advance to the next page.

View the sheet music

Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Julian Bream, page 1 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Julian Bream, page 2 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Julian Bream, page 3 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Julian Bream, page 4 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Julian Bream, page 5

CARLOS BONELL

Guitarist Carlos Bonell

I only recently became familiar with Bonell's version. He includes a delightful section that he uses as an introduction and interlude. His version includes a rasgueado section, but you can also substitute any of the other rasgueado options I provide below.

Watch Carlos Bonell play Canarios

Start the video and then immediately click the thumbnail below to view the music as Bonell plays. Click the white arrow on each page of music to advance to the next page.

View the sheet music

Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 1 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 2 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 3 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 4 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 5 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 6 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 7 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 8 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 9 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 10 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 11 Canarios by Gaspar Sanz, free guitar sheet music and guitar tab, arranged by Carlos Bonell, page 12

Download everything here.
Download only the files you want or all of them.
It's all free!

The folder includes these sheet music files:

  1. The guitar arrangement by John Williams in standard notation, standard notation plus tab, and tab only.
  2. The arrangement by Christopher Parkening in standard notation, standard notation plus tab, and tab only.
  3. The guitar arrangement by Julian Bream in standard notation, standard notation plus tab, and tab only.
  4. The guitar arrangement by Carlos Bonell in standard notation, standard notation plus tab, and tab only.
  5. Rasgueado options compatible with all the arrangements in standard notation, standard notation plus tab, and tab only.
  6. The original Baroque guitar tablature of Canarios from Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española by Gaspar Sanz.
  7. The original and complete Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española by Gaspar Sanz.

The folder also includes these audio and video files:

  1. The mp3 audio file of the guitar arrangement by John Williams.
  2. The mp3 audio file of the guitar arrangement by Christopher Parkening.
  3. The mp3 audio file of the guitar arrangement by Julian Bream.
  4. The video of Carlos Bonell performing his arrangement of Canarios.
  5. The video of Baroque guitarist Xavier Díaz Latorre performing Canarios.
  6. The video of Baroque guitarist Miguel Rincón performing Canarios.
  7. The video of the Russian early music ensemble "La Campanella" dancing Canarios.

CANARIOS ON THE BAROQUE GUITAR

Be sure to also listen to the piece played on the baroque guitar. It sounds very different than on a modern guitar. See the information below to understand why. Here are two versions of Canarios performed on the baroque guitar.

Here is Baroque guitarist Xavier Díaz Latorre. I think his rasgueado section is excellent and I show you how to play it in the rasgueado section below.

And here is virtuoso Baroque guitarist Miguel Rincón.

CANARIOS: THE DANCE

Here is a video of the Russian early music ensemble "La Campanella" dancing the Canarios.

The Canario is thought to have originated from Spain where it is regarded as the father of the jota. Supposedly, it was derived from a dance done by the natives of the Canary Islands.

It is likely, however, that the European version of the dance as shown here was a highly stylized version of what the original explorers had seen. It probably bears little resemblance to what the Atlantic Islanders actually danced.

Canaries were done as improvised dances. Dancers were encouraged to either choreograph their own variations and perform them, or to perform impromptu variations. Emphasis was placed on showing vigour and athleticism in performing the dance.

CANARIOS: THE RASGUEADOS
Rasgueado options and tutorial.

Included in the downloads is a PDF of rasgueado options for Canarios. As I mentioned above, inserting rasgueados into Canarios is historically appropriate and stylistically correct. Not to mention, a lot of fun!

For even more information about rasgueado technique, see my technique tip, Rasgueados, Part 1.

Be sure to watch this free 28-minute video tutorial to gain a thorough understanding of the rhythms, right-hand fingerings, and right-hand technique.

Here are the topics and timestamps (not clickable) in the video, including the clips where I perform the various options.

  • Strumming notation. 01:48
  • The left-hand chords and technique. 03:05
  • The right-hand technique. 04:27
  • Doug plays Version #1. 05:25
  • How to play Canarios rasgueados, Version #1. 05:25
  • Choosing a tempo. 09:27
  • Doug plays Version #2. 09:58
  • How to play Canarios rasgueados, Version #2.
  • Change the Meter, Alternative #1. 20:27
  • Doug plays the Change of Meter, Alternative #1. 22:19
  • Change the Meter, Alternative #2. 25:28
  • Doug plays the Change of Meter, Alternative #2. 27:20

CANARIOS: THE ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPTS

Here is Canarios in the original tablature. This page is from Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española by Gaspar Sanz. The manuscript is included in the free sheet music download.

Canarios original manuscript in Baroque guitar tablature

And here is the first page of the Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española. The complete manuscript is included in the free sheet music download.

Canarios original manuscript in Baroque guitar tablature

Why Canarios played on the modern 6-string guitar
bears no resemblance whatsoever to how
Sanz intended it to sound on the Baroque guitar.

When we play Canarios on a modern guitar, it bears little resemblance to how Gaspar Sanz intended it to sound on the Baroque guitar. Why? Well, of course, the instrument is different. The Baroque guitar that Sanz played has "five strings" (actually nine, but more on that in a moment), and is smaller with an oblong shape.

A Baroque guitar, front and back.

But the main reason the music sounds so different on the Baroque guitar is its tuning.

The primary pitches of the strings of the Baroque guitar are the same as our modern instrument—from high to low pitches:

  • 1st string=E
  • 2nd string=B
  • 3rd string=G
  • 4th string=D
  • 5th string=A

The first string was a single string. But the rest of the strings were pairs of strings (we call them "courses") like on a modern 12-string guitar. The tuning and stringing varied from player to player and country to country.

Here is the tuning of the Baroque guitar that Sanz preferred:

  • Course #1: a single string tuned to E.
  • Course #2: a pair of strings tuned to unison B's.
  • Course #3: a pair of strings tuned to unison G's.
  • Course #4: a pair of "thin strings" (as Sanz described them) tuned to octave D's. There was no bass string. He did not use one thin string and one fatter bass string as on a modern 12-string guitar. And, the higher octave was on the bass or thumb side of the course. Therefore, when plucked with the thumb, the higher octave is most prominent.
  • Course #5: a pair of thin strings tuned to unison A's but an octave higher than on the modern guitar. In other words, Sanz tuned the two 5th strings to our 3rd-string A. This is called re-entrant tuning. Once again, he did not use a bass string. He did not use one thin string and one fatter bass string as on a modern 12-string guitar.

Therefore, Sanz's Baroque guitar was essentially a treble register instrument with a delicate and sweet sound. It did not have boomy or resonant bass strings.

And, as a result of the re-entrant tuning of the 5th course and the octave tuning of the fourth course, transcriptions for the modern guitar transpose some of the notes that fall on those strings up or down an octave from what Sanz intended. Plus, some transcriptions, such as those by John Williams and Christopher Parkening, add the 6th string tuned down to D to add resonance and volume to the sound.

So, when we play an arrangement of Canarios with our fat 4th and 5th wound bass strings and sometimes even with our 6th string tuned down to D, the sound bears no resemblance to what Sanz intended on the Baroque guitar. Is this bad? If you are trying to be authentic, absolutely. But if you want to capture the drive, vitality, and invigorating dance rhythms of the piece in a more powerful manner, with distinct treble and bass voices, you can certainly make a case for adapting the piece for our modern instrument.

For more background information and an English translation of Sanz's Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española, see Jerry Willard's beautiful edition titled The Complete Works of Gaspar Sanz, Volumes I and II.

For more background information and an English translation of Sanz's Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española, see Jerry Willard's beautiful edition titled The Complete Works of Gaspar Sanz, Volumes I and II.

Cover The Complete Works of Gaspar Sanz by Jerry Willard

WHO WAS GASPAR SANZ?

From Wikipedia:

Francisco Bartolomé Sanz Celma (April 4, 1640 (baptized) – 1710), better known as Gaspar Sanz, was a Spanish composer, guitarist, organist and priest born to a wealthy family in Calanda in the comarca of Bajo Aragón, Spain. He studied music, theology, and philosophy at the University of Salamanca, where he was later appointed Professor of Music. He wrote three volumes of pedagogical works for the Baroque guitar that form an important part of today's classical guitar repertory and have informed modern scholars in the techniques of Baroque guitar playing.

His birth date is unknown, but he was baptized as Francisco Bartolomé Sanz Celma in the church of Calanda de Ebro, Aragon, on April 4, 1640, later adopting the first name "Gaspar."

After gaining his Bachelor of Theology at the University of Salamanca, Gaspar Sanz traveled to Naples, Rome, and perhaps Venice to further his music education. He is thought to have studied under Orazio Benevoli, choirmaster at the Vatican and Cristofaro Caresana, organist at the Royal Chapel of Naples. He spent some years as the organist of the Spanish Viceroy at Naples.

Sanz learned to play guitar while studying under Lelio Colista and was influenced by the music of the Italian guitarists Foscarini, Granata, and Corbetta. When Sanz returned to Spain, he was appointed instructor of guitar to Don Juan (John of Austria), the illegitimate son of King Philip IV and María Calderón, a noted actress of the day.

In 1674 he wrote his now-famous Instrucción de Música sobre la Guitarra Española, published in Saragossa and dedicated to Don Juan. A second book entitled Libro Segundo de Cifras sobre la Guitarra Española was printed in Saragossa in 1675. A third book, Libro Tercero de Mùsica de Cifras sobre la Guitarra Española, was added to the first and second books, and all three were published together under the title of the first book in 1697, eventually being published in eight editions. The ninety works in this masterpiece are his only known contribution to the repertory of the guitar and include compositions in both punteado ("plucked") style and rasqueado ("strummed") style.

Gaspar Sanz was also noted in his day for his literary works as a poet and writer. He was the author of some poems and two books now largely forgotten. His excellent translation of the celebrated L'huomo di lettere by Jesuit Daniello Bartoli first appeared in 1678, with further editions in 1744 and 1787.

He died in Madrid in 1710.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Is Canarios difficult to play?

The difficulty of playing Canarios depends on how fast you play it. The great thing is that it sounds fantastic whether you play it at a slower, manageable tempo or very fast.

What is the tuning for Canarios?

On a modern guitar, you can play Canarios with standard tuning or dropped-D tuning.

Can I use rasgueados in Canarios?

Yes, rasgueados are entirely historically appropriate and stylistically correct to include in any arrangement of Canarios.

For what instrument did Gaspar Sanz compose Canarios?

Gaspar Sanz wrote Canarios for the Baroque guitar.

How was the Baroque guitar tuned?

Here is the tuning of the Baroque guitar that Sanz preferred:

  • Course #1: a single string tuned to E.
  • Course #2: a pair of strings tuned to unison B's.
  • Course #3: a pair of strings tuned to unison G's.
  • Course #4: a pair of "thin strings" (as Sanz described them) tuned to octave D's. There was no bass string. He did not use one thin string and one fatter bass string as on a modern 12-string guitar. And, the higher octave was on the bass or thumb side of the course. Therefore, when plucked with the thumb, the higher octave is most prominent.
  • Course #5: a pair of thin strings tuned to unison A's but an octave higher than on the modern guitar. In other words, Sanz tuned the two 5th strings to our 3rd-string A. This is called re-entrant tuning. Once again, he did not use a bass string. He did not use one thin string and one fatter bass string as on a modern 12-string guitar.

Therefore, Sanz's Baroque guitar was essentially a treble register instrument with a delicate and sweet sound. It did not have boomy or resonant bass strings.

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Douglas Niedt is a seasoned, successful concert and recording artist and highly respected master classical guitar teacher with 50 years of teaching experience. He is Associate Professor of Music (retired), at the Conservatory of Music and Dance, University of Missouri-Kansas City and a Fellow of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management—Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

Doug studied with such diverse masters as Andrés Segovia, Pepe Romero, Christopher Parkening, Narciso Yepes, Oscar Ghiglia, and Jorge Morel. Therefore, Doug provides solutions for you from a variety of perspectives and schools of thought.

He gives accurate, reliable advice that has been tested in performance on the concert stage that will work for you at home.