Gran Vals – Tárrega

Phone ringtones. Catchy little tunes that get hopelessly stuck in your head faster than I get stuck in a good book. One day I wondered where they come from, and to my utmost delight, I discovered that they often come from classical pieces. Further investigations led me to Gran Vals, a piece for classical guitar. A phrase of this piece was selected for the Nokia ringtone and subsequently became the world’s first identifiable musical ringtone on a mobile phone, heard worldwide an estimated 1.8 billion times per day, about 20,000 times per second.

Of course, knowing that, it was impossible to resist learning this venerable piece.

“Sunny Street in Leon, Spain” by Ksenia Filippova | Top Tárrega

It was composed by Francisco Tárrega, often considered the father of classical guitar and one of the greatest classical guitarists of all time. This was evident from the first time I listened to it. Instantly I was transported to the sunny streets of Spain, soaking in bursts of orange and yellow and tinkling laughter. I felt like I was dancing the whole time, sometimes a dignified waltz, sometimes a light-hearted skip.

Even the sheet music looked easy-going. Just three pages, nothing too daunting.

Sure, that middle page was tricky at first, but once I learned the notes, it only took a lot of repetition for me to get it. And once that happened, it was so much fun. When I play it, shifting up and down the guitar’s neck, I feel like I’m soaring. When my fingers pluck so quickly they’re so close to tripping over each other, I get a waterfall of adrenaline.

Admittedly, there is a section that is quite tedious, a section which involves lots of barring (read: pressing your finger down on all six metal strings and subjecting your hand and entire arm to a lot of pain) but it’s worth it in light of how fun and cheerful everything else is.

I won’t keep you in confused suspense any longer. Here is a recording of this beautiful piece, where I hope I can convey to you at least a little bit of the simple joy I feel playing it.

4 thoughts on “Gran Vals – Tárrega

  1. It is indeed a lovely piece! And wow, I am impressed by your guitar skills.
    I love it when a simple little curiosity like that can lead to such a discovery. And now I know something that I didn’t know a moment ago! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and this happy music!

    Liked by 1 person

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