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Sight Reading for the Classical Guitar
Daily sight reading material with emphasis on interpretation, phrasing, form, etc.

by

Robert Benedict

ml

[Alfred!

LEVEL I
Before Playing look at the Time Signature Clap the rhythm. Look at the complete line of music before beginning to play. Play slowly, and read ahead. For the first two levels, it is especially important to count out loud. Notes on the first string.
1 1— ° 3 «

p < ••
gB—4

1

e —

1

«»

—e

—— | V

9

1

I1

°

'

o

£-e

,pn

1

9

i

1 p

j r

r"—i 1
H

Q A or : rfr^

FORM: Eight measures make up a musical period, usually divided into two four-measure phrases. The first is called the "antecedent phrase" and the second is called the "consequent phrase". It is very natural for a period to be divided into two equal parts, as in the following.
p 19 1

o

—e

1

n

y

.

-f

3

1

9

]

Er

f2——° i 1

"•••s

n 1

i
Feel the pulse of four beats per bar; accent counts 1 and 3.
A_ -3

fe

4

E

-

Make an effort to play from the beginning to the end of a line without stopping.

Before Playing look at the Time Signature

-

Clap the ittythm.

Here we have a typical period, shaped musically with two crescendos. DYNAMICS: Dynamic markings .r n—• indicate inflections of vokuneLThe use of dynamics will help to bring alive the simplest pieces.

* 4 fin ji " \5l/ *

-y

y

1— — —\—" i i i i

=

>J

~

—'* r r r r— -— i i i i f -—
forte loud

"

1 III

Memorize this chart of dynamic markings.

pp
pianissimo very soft

p
piano soft

mp
mezzo-piano 'medium' soft n lezzo-forte 'm edium' loud

ff fortissimo very loud

/f J i Rn 4
M

0

P

—I

P

T * -

«-

j

i

"

nH

Feel the offbeat, or syncopated, rhythm. (Syncopated rhythms generally recur throughout a piece.)

r r fir r
Notes on the second string.

dH-^ rft \ o

1

1
*.*

3

^N

^
i
*.*
B

f*

~T °

II 1

Learn to recognize phrases when they are not indicated on the music. Read ahead.

Syncopation.

ftlr

i

^3

19

1

P

\"'

1

v

v

n

Children especially have a need and ability to express music with dynamics. With the teacher's help, this aspect of a student's performance can easily be encouraged.

Before Playing look at the Time Signature

- Clap the rhythm.

13

r
Q

ir

Here the time signature of ? is introduced. Feel the pulse of three beats per bar (rather than four) - accent the first beat of each bar.

r r ir i
Some of the more unusual phrase lengths, such as three or five measures, create lovely musical effects.

i
P
Watch for patterns of repeated notes. Read ahead.

16

r r r <r 1
It is common to find phrases of eight or more measures.

j §Tr—3

•~

. ^ MB • • I

• • • M M .

^ M H ••••—••. . • " ^ • l^ W • • • •

_

j r rr

m —m—f —

1

=f=f=l 1 1

n

•—^

1

^

'

Look at the complete line of music before beginning to play.
-W—1| i o jf. 4 18 ft) ^
F5 •

FP=i• i
1

9

1

1

Lp

1

L£—

•—

9 •

4=J ,

—rr.

1

Melodies with many repeated notes are very rhythmic. Feel the strong beats in each bar:
3j J J 4>
or

J J

Before Playing look at the Time Signature

-

Clap the rhythm.

19

r r r
Always read ahead.

r 'rrr

20

i
Strive to play every note clearly and sensitively.

fr-if—

w

3


\f

^^

r

— ==•»««——

-p

22

9

^

r r ir r ir r

The following two exercises introduce the notes 'A' and 'G', found on the 3rd string. Be sure to count the tied notes for their full value.
23

j J J J J

r r IT rTT i r r

Count to the end of the line, including the rests.
24

1
cresc.

j J Jij. u
decresc. crescerfdo (cresc.) = decrescendo (decresc.)

Before Playing look at the Time Signature - Clap the rhythm. The first, four-measure phrase is closed with an extra, two-measure phrase.
25
cresc. decresc.

mp

r ir r r

3DC

r
r r r 'r r
J J

27

28

29

J

.

Count carefully Cbuf /oudj the ties and the rests.
30

EL 2942

Look for the little things that are frequently giving you problems (string crossings with the right hand, ties, particular notes, etc.). Work on these areas to improve your playing and reading.

Before Playing look at the Time Signature

-

Clap the rhythm.

31

F=tf=F

P

32

P

Watch carefully the skips between the notes. Flay slowly.
33

r r r
Use the thumb (p) when indicated.
w

34

A. t J

m

*C

J

p

«

I

Look for patterns of notes that shape either scales or chords.

35

J
cresc.

M r Mr r nr r nr r r ir r
decresc.

J

Syncopation.

36

3 J

* »

To comfortably play single-line melodies with large intervals, use the thumb as well as the fingers of the right hand.

Before Playing look at the Time Signature - Clap the rhythm.

37

38

r" ' r
Be sure to count the tied notes for their full value.

r IT r r
• J iJ

39

40

The repeating two-measure rhythmic pattern (using syncopation) shapes the phrases.

41

3

i

r rT"

1

When entering and leaving a phrase, you may increase and decrease the tempo. This will enhance the artistic effect.
42

Make a strong effort to play musically at all times. To slow down, or ritard, the last phrase of a piece will often provide a very natural and musical ending.

8

RHYTHMS

Clap, or play on an open string, the following rhythmic patterns, counting out loud.

J J J J I J J IJ J J J l
IJ
3)}J

J J IJ J J IJ J IJ. I
J J JU J JIJ J J U JI

J
I. IJ J

J J J
J J lo I

J

W>1 J J J J I J

J JIJ

J J IJ J Jl

4) 3 J

J

J IJ

J

IJ

J

J I J.

I

17) 3 J

J

J.

IJ

J

JIJ.

5)3J.
6)3J

IJ
J

J IJ J J IJ.
IJ.

18)3 J J IJ J J U
IJ J JIJ J J JIJ

J IJ J
J JIJ J Jl

IJ

j

IJ.

7)}J

J J

I.

IJ

J J

I

20) 3 J

J |J

j

IJ

J IJ

J

J

8>1.

IJ J J J IJ

J

IJ J J

21) U

J J

!„

IJ J J J IJ

Jl

9) 3 J.

IJ

J

IJ

JU.

22) U

J J J I J J J IJ

J JIJ

Jl

10) 3 J

J

J

J

IJ

J

J

IJ

J

23) J J .

IJ

J

J

IJ

J

U

J

") I J

J JIJ

J J

IJ

J JIJ

Jl

24) 3 J

J

J

J IJ

J

IJ

J

1

12) 3 J

J

J IJ

J

IJ

J

J IJ

J

26)1 J J J

IJ

J JIJ

J J

13) | J

J

IJ J J

IJ J J

26)

J

J IJ

J U

J U

J J

LEVEL 2
Before Playing look at the Time Signature - Clap the rhythm.
Look at the complete line of music before beginning to play. Play slowly, and read ahead. For the first two levels, it is especially important to count out loud.

RANDOM NOTES (1-4) Name all the notes in each line before you play.

f

i

P

f

i^?
i

i

f

a

i2 f £ f
P i

The pick-up note (or "anacrusis") falls on a weak beat, and could be considered as an introductory note to the first complete measure. Feel the strong downbeat after the pick-up note. Notice that the last measure has only two beats. Where is the third beat?

2 t r i' r
m

£

fi

?

^

^^

rrnrrr

The simplest littl« pieces can be played artistically. Shape the phrases, add ritards, and use dynamics.

10
Before Playing look at the Time Signature 'C" means 'common time', and is the same as i. Clap the rhythm.

-tfr-r

r TIN rr

r r

J Jr

Read ahead; feel the changing rhythms.

8

FORM: In music of two parts, each part is made distinct by the direction of the stems; use fingers for the upper part and thumb for the lower.
i m

J i

J J

r r r Tr r r

J J J

f=f=f

J J J-,.1

i

r r r

- r

rrr

Phrase markings may be found above or below the notes, regardless of the direction of the stems.

11
Before Playing look at the Time Signature The open bass strings.
13

- Clap the rhythm.

Be sure to count the tied notes for their full value. Imagine a ritard in the last two measures.
m

i_

~*=f,

J, LJ * H
x

i n . L^

M

Here the bass part (accompaniment) consists of only one repeated note; this is called & pedal.

15

rp

r-

r

r r r-

r-

r

r

Syncopated rhythms generally recur throughout a piece.

r r nr
Use p, i, m, and a for the following.

^

17

Think about how you would phrase this little piece, before you begin to play.

Pick-up notes fall on a weafc beat.

^

12

Before Playing look at the Time Signature

- Clap the rhythm.

Single-line melodies in the lower part of the staff may be played with either the thumb (p) or the fingers (i, m).

rit. -

Hear how the single strain of melody notes divides into two parts at measure 5.

20

fff

21

I

22

t^)

i=t i
i O

„. . -

J , J J J J,i.j J,> J . J , » . l J
• —
.-.—

j^

dO

. -U - •

.

»

13
Before Playing look at the Time Signature Clap the rhythm.

24

te

-o-

r r

r

25

FORM: A sequence is the repetition in a single part of a short musical phrase at another pitch. Can you hear the sequence in this piece? Learn to recognize sequences before they are actually played.

26

iiJ J J i r

3=gl
r T r

m

27

flfr^-

Q 4 * Si

J

-^

J=

b-

J

-

J

i J JJ
—£»

«»

J f
EL 2942

J

J

Aim for a performance without mistakes. Play slowly.

14
Before Playing look at the Time Signature - Clap the rhythm.

When playing single-line pieces, try to read farther ahead. Play slowly. Also, think of the many ways you could phrase this piece.

28

JM—i $U

J

= = t | = .

-J

J

1

-Jl

=3=^

J

J !

J If- J 1.1 J
29

j

^ " 1i
r f

J

i

30

1

31

i
To comfortably play single-line melodies with large intervals, use the thumb as well as the fingers of the right hand.

15

Before Playing look at the Time Signature

- Clap the rhythm.
4.

32

£ j j JJi

~o
-o-

:n

hJ J J J 1 -e
trv

1

1 j j •» |3
IT
IT

1 > . I f gj
0-

J •

J | «-» ^

-r r

Watch for the changing rhythms. Play slowly.

33

J J

p

34

m

r

r

r

r

r

r
JiJ

r

r-

Syncopation, using two parts.

33C

3OC

r r
36

-r i

«•

a a*

4 0

J J i ^ J J ,J J J . J .

,Jt J J ,J J J , J .

,J

The more difficult a piece appears at first sight, the more carefully it should be approached.

16

Before Playing look at the Time Signature - Clap the rhythm.

r c r i' r
i 1 A*^
>*/

1

2

3
~CT"

38

Watch how the melody becomes the bass part.

AT 39 fffl vy

YT ^

f— "

w -w—

a-

3

i \

i \

\
-J-

-f «£ <*_

» -»
— *

J a . * ,.•

i

i

«•v

» -—~^

* •*

* - ^ ^ ^

Listen for the melody in the lower part.

40

1f ^ ' ^ w-

H

3

j: * * *
f

^-0

'•

1
V

*

* *

rr

^f

Y

J J J i > J J J i> J J J

r
41

n't.

1i

17

Before Playing look at the Time Signature

- Clap the rhythm.

Do not let your eyes linger on the longer note values. Read as far ahead as possible in single-line pieces. Feel the changes of rhythm in the second line. Play slowly.

42
cresc. decresc.

P3?
decresc.

r T r if r
rit. -

Listen to the lower part, which is the melody of this little piece.

r f 'r r !r rJr r 'f r f

J :

44

J :

f

r

i

J :

r
r

r

rit.

r

Try to dynamically balance pieces written in two parts. Listen carefully to your playing.

18
INTERVALS

An interval is the distance between two notes; when the notes are played at the same time, the interval is referred to as "harmonic", and when the notes are played one after the other, the interval is "melodic". In Level Three for the most part we will be sight reading either melodies with accompaniment, or contrapuntal pieces, the fingers taking the upper part and the thumb playing the lower part. Because we are playing with the thumb and the fingers together more in Level Three than in the previous levels, it is very important to recognize both harmonic and melodic intervals at sight. One learns to recognize specific intervals quickly by seeing them as a space, or a distance, rather than reading each note individually. The ability to read these intervals comes through practice, naming the interval distances (thirds, fourths, fifths, etc.) used in each exercise before beginning to play. Often a piece or fragment will use particular intervals throughout, to create a certain musical effect (for instance, the open sound of fourths, the powerful effect pf fifths).

In order to prepare for Level Three, learn to play and recognize the following intervals, based on the notes of the C major scale.

unison second

VT

•&•

third
-y A. ftf\

rfourth r
r
] «

I
3
1

fifth

sixth

r

r
-j

seventh

r r

i
octave


Jt

zt
t9"

f

ninth

tenth

19

RHYTHMS
,2, Although in this level eighth notes and the time signature '4' are not used in the musical examples, they are included in the following rhythms, in preparation for Level Three. Clap, or play on an open string, the following rhythmic patterns, counting out loud.

j j j i j. i n n j i j. j n J i J rj J i J j i j. i
3 ) } J J J J|J

IJ"3 J~JIJ J IJ

ji

W ) 1 J J1J J^IJ J J IJ]J J1J . I

J

J|

0

I

J J1J IJ

J IJ1J J1U.

I

4>1J

J IJJ1J

IJJ1J J I J

JI

2DJJJ JIJJ

JIJJ1JJIJJ JI

j j ij j «5j j ij n n ij i

22) 1 J J J I J J

IJ J

IJ J J I I

23) 5 j
J J J
25) } J

n ij n ij j i
J I J1J J I J J I
J J|J J JIJ1J JIJ1JJI

j u nn\i \
» 1 J JJIJ1.TJJ I J J J 1 J I J J J I

j ij

j
I

nj
»> i J J~3 1 J

j

j ji i j.
JI In J I

J J"]IJ J J IJ J1IJ J I
12)1. IJ J IJ J JJIJ1J1J J|

I

is) i J J J IJ3J1J IJJ1J J1IJ J I

1 J. J1IJ1J J IJ.

ij n in n j n \ j i inn\ni \nn j j u Jrju j jiuij j j.

iJ 32) 5 j
33) I J J

j j in n n j i .nj n j. i
J | J J J |J]JJ3J|J J|