Thu, Feb 2, 2012
How to Read Classical Guitar Music Numbers
Playing the classical guitar requires knowledge of how to read music on a staff. Guitar music in particular is read on the treble clef staff. Because of the complexity of the guitar and the necessity to use fingers of both right and left hands, numbers and letters are used to help the guitarist know which fingers to use and where they should be placed on the finger board.
Before picking up your guitar, look at your music. You may see numbers next to notes on the staff, Roman numerals, circled numbers, and letters. These numbers are to aid you in learning the music, and you first must understand what each number or symbol means.
Look at the numbers written next to the notes on the staff. These numbers tell you which finger of the left hand to use. The number 1 is your index finger, 2 is your middle finger, 3 is your ring finger and 4 is your pinky. Your thumb does not get a number because it is not used on the finger board.
Look at the letters written above the notes on the staff. These letters tell you which fingers of your right hand to use. The fingers of the right hand are indicated as follows: p is your thumb, i is your index finger, m is your middle finger and a is your ring finger. The pinky of your right hand is not used.
Circled numbers are written underneath the staff in most cases (sometimes they are by the notes) to indicate the string on which the note is to be played. For instance, if the number 1 is circled, the note or notes are to be played on the first string, or the highest sounding string. A dotted line is sometimes used to show successive notes are to be played on that string.
The Roman numerals are used to show barres or partial barres in your left hand. The letter C indicates a full barre, whereas a C with a vertical line through it indicates a partial barre. The following Roman numeral tells you on which fret the barre is located. For instance, if you see “CIV,” you place your left index finger across the fourth fret on all strings. A bracket is used to indicate which notes are included in the barre.