Arpeggios are not a technique unique to the classical guitar- any instrument that can play pitch can make an arpeggio! However, the way guitarists think of and use arpeggios is unlike any other instrument…
The simplest definition of an arpeggio is a chord/harmony played one note at a time. Try this- if you can make a simple C Major, A Minor, or E Minor chord, strum from the lowest string to the highest so the notes pop out one at a time. Voila! You just made an arpeggio! Though, a rather tame one.
To a classical guitarist, an arpeggio is like a magic trick; the audience’s attention is drawn to the spectacle and not the ease through which it is made. With eyes closed, a performance of Heitor Villa-Lobos’s Étude No. 1 is an onslaught of notes, but if you watch the artist’s left hand, you will see movement only every couple of seconds. This modesty is what makes arpeggios unique to the classical guitar. The left and right hand perfectly divide the work- the one hand makes a static shape, the other makes a pattern of finger plucks.
A perfect example of this is the 120 Right Hand Studies by Giuliani, Mauro Giuseppe Sergio Pantaleo (1781-1829). Every one of these studies is played over the same chord progression: C-G7-C-G7-C though the right-hand pattern changes to make the 120 unique examples. This collection proves the vast possibilities of the right hand to make musical patterns and provides a lifetime of study for any lover of the guitar.
We are going to take an abbreviated look at this collection to cover essential right-hand movements and the way they are used in different arpeggio patterns. It is our goal to cover these patterns as well as More advanced student will find this valuable as a teaching resource and the pieces at the end of this course will provide.