Leo Brouwer Etude 1

Leo Brouwer Etude 1 is one of the first pieces that Neefa Van Der Schyff  teacher taught me. It is also the first piece that I performed (very nervously)  and a piece that I still play (now quite a bit less nervously :-).

I’m getting a lot of messages from people coming here because they want to learn to play guitar as part of worship. If this is you, you might want to join Aaron Anastasi’s programme. Aaron is a musician and a worship leader. He put together a step by step programme for aspiring Christian musicians. If you're interested, you can use the exercises and advice in learn-classical-guitar-today to develop your finger strength and dexterity and Aaron's lessons to work on strumming and worship music. 


It is an excellent piece for developing strength and control. Particularly for the right hand which the study specifically targets through the different dynamics. If you get the dynamic and speed right, it is an enjoyable piece for any audience. 

This study is one of five studies contained in Leo Brouwer Etude Simples  Volume1 which you can find at sheetmusicplus.com by clicking the link below. You'll see that they have a sample page from the Brouwer Etude Simples Vol 1 in the 'look inside' option. This sample page is of Etude 1, this study. So, if you're wanting to have a quick start this might be the way to go. 

Cover tiny file look inside Etudes Simples - Volume 1 Guitar Solo. Composed by Leo Brouwer (1939-). Editions Durand. 20th Century. Guitar solo single (no tablature). With standard guitar notation. 4 pages. Editions Durand #ME7997. Published by Editions Durand (HL.50562479).
You can also find the PDF of this study (and of the four other pieces usually published in Brouwer Etude Simples Vol 1) at scribd.com.

It is a rhythmic study providing the melody in the bass strings and the accompaniment on the open strings. The term ‘cantado el bajo’ in the score literally means the ‘singing the bass’. A useful strategy is to isolate the bass line melody and become familiar with this before adding the rhythmic component. It is VERY important to play it in a way that distinguishes the dynamic in the different sections. 

This study has two goals :

  • The first is to bring out the melody with the right hand by using a rest stroke with the thumb (‘p’) on the bass strings and a free stroke with the ‘i-m’ fingers.
  • The second is to achieve the dynamic contrasts. Etude No.1 moves from ‘mf’ in the first bar to ‘pp’ in the third bar to ‘f’ in bar 5. The piece crescendos from bar 12, reaching its climatic moment in bar 15 - marcato emphasizes the need to perform these notes staccato and ff at an increased volume. While a ‘ritardando’ is not indicated, many players interpret it as such. The morendo (dying) in the last bar is often played higher up on the guitar bridge to accent the effect of dying away.

Here as inspiration is Raymond Lohengrin performing the first four of the Brouwer Etudes.  

Also useful is this lesson by Sammy Gonzalez where he gives tips on finger placements and a few other helpful hints

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You'll need to go a little deeper into music theory as you proceed. The best online resource for this is Guitar Theory Revolution. It recognises that music theory is very hard for guitarists because music theory has till now been located in the piano paradigm. The Guitar Theory Revolution overthrows the piano paradigm that is holding you back and embraces the attributes of the guitar to unpack music theory. In fact, it goes further and allows you to see that the guitar is one of the best instruments for learning theory. 

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