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A Popular Music Repertoire for the Classical Guitar

Just because you play classical guitar doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to hundred year old music! There are many modern pop songs that translate very well to the classical guitar.

One of the biggest challenges any classical guitarist faces is that of trying to assemble a repertoire of music that a wide audience will appreciate. After all, the majority of any musician’s audience will be fans of popular music. The classical guitar is capable of interpreting this popular music in a very distinct and pleasant way. Here is a selection of popular pieces that translate well, and sound well, on the classical guitar.

Stairway to Heaven – This is the anthem of a whole generation of rock music and the guitar arrangement by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin is one of the best pieces of guitar music ever written. Don’t let the fact that this is a hard rock band scare you away from this piece of music. It is a stunningly beautiful piece of music.

Vincent – (Starry, Starry, Night) This is a beautiful song written by Don Mclean and it is a great piece for classical guitar. There are many interpretations of this song but I highly recommend you use the arrangement created by Chet Atkins. It is quite possibly the best piece of guitar music ever written.

Blackbird – by the Beatles - This is a perfect piece for a beginner to learn. It has some very unique sliding up and down the fretboard and some great interval playing.

Yesterday – Another piece by the Beatles and arguably one of the most beautiful melodies ever written.

If – by Bread - This is an old song written in the 70’s by a pop group. It has a haunting melody and a great arpeggio style of finger picking that sounds great on the classical guitar. This is a great intermediate level piece.

Your Body is A Wonderland – John Mayer borrows from the art of Flamenco the technique of tapping on the guitar for this song, which makes for some nice acoustic variety in your repertoire. It is a novelty but sounds great.

Unchained Melody – Alex North and Hy Zaret – This is a piece of music that has been performed for over 50 years now and for good reason. It is a beautiful and simple piece that can be quickly learned.

Hotel California – The Eagles - Originally written for the 12-string guitar this song plays extraordinary well on the classical guitar and really expresses that 70’s soft rock feeling.

Time In A Bottle – Jim Croce had a very unique style of playing folk guitar and this style translates well to the classical guitar. This piece is one of his best pieces in that it showcases some really beautiful, and unique, guitar phrasings.

Tears in Heaven – Eric Clapton is hailed as the king of rock and roll guitar and for good reason. He has the ability to play absolutely anything flawlessly. Tears in Heaven is the perfect slow pop piece to showcase how the classical guitar can cross genres into the world of pop music.


The Classical Guitar is an extraordinarily diverse instrument and it can sound good in almost any genre of music but learning a solid repertoire of popular music is something that can enable you to reach and connect with a very wide audience.


About the Author: For more interesting insights and information about the classical guitar or to hear pieces played by the author visit his website at:
The Classical Guitarist




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