Tremolo Technique
Tremolo Technique
by John Gates
by John Gates

If any one piece has inspired my love of classical guitar it has to be Tarrega's Recuerdos de la Alhambra which I've spent more time learning to play than anything else and I'm still leaning! The technique of tremolo is very illusive; just when you think you've got it you start "galloping" the treble notes, and the odd accidentally plucked string clashes painfully. The thumb seems to get in the way of the index finger and you just cant seem to slow down. No wonder Tony Blair chose to be Prime Minister rather then attempt to learn tremolo (On Dessert Island Discs his luxury was a guitar so he could learn Recuerdos de la Alhambra - one of his eight chosen records).

I have at last learnt to play tremolo passably well enough for others to listen and some even to sigh and pay complements. Alas it isn't perfect but for an hour a day amateur not bad.

Below is the score and midi file of a little tremolo study I arranged from an Irish Air called Si-Bhean Locha Lein :

Get Midi   SiBhean Tremolo Page 1    SiBhean Tremolo Page 2

If you’re fanatical about tremolo try listening to Liona Boyd’s "Best of Liona Boyd" album. I originally brought it for her excellent rendition of Campanas Del Alba which I was learning at the time but it also includes a tremolo version of Plaisir D’Amour, plus Recuerdos De La Alhambra and several others with tremolo passages.

If you need some tremolo exercises try Scott Tennant’s "Pumping Nylon" which has some useful exercises. However beware of the set piece called "Chant" which I’ve found very difficult. Having said that its an extremely good exercise with the tremolo being played from the A to the top E string and the melody rising off beat so that in an ami sequence the tremolo note changes on plucking the i. Towards the end of this piece the music specifies imi for two beats and to be honest the transition ima to imi and back defeated me.

I now play the piece ami throughout having altered the left hand fingering as shown below although this requires a long left hand stretch.




 John Gates