Bolero for Guitar

Maurice Ravel’s Bolero arranged for lead guitar

This is a lead guitar arrangement of classical composer Maurice Ravel’s famous composition “Bolero.”  This is not a full transcription of the entire composition, but the melody transcribed here gets repeated multiple times in the song.  This is a good piece to start with if you’re interested in learning to play classical melodies and want to practice something other than scales to develop your technique.  It’s also a lot easier to memorize since the entire melody takes up only two pages, as compared to Mozart’s Symphony 40, which clocks in at 10 pages despite my best efforts to condense it.

Some tips on learning this:

  1. Focus on working on phrases, rather than learning a few measures at a time.  For example, try learning the first note through the third C note in measure two (the C note on beat 2) and then try adding the rest of the notes in the second and third measure.
  2. There’s some sections where you should do economy picking rather than straight alternate picking.  In measure 10, play the last three notes, B – A – F with a series of upstrokes, not up-down-up.  Try to do a sweep motion across the strings, minimizing the arc of your pick strokes.
  3. The rhythms get a little crazy at the end with the quarter note triplets, but they’re not as hard as they look to play by ear.  Just listen to any recording of a symphony orchestra playing this to figure it out – don’t try to count it.  On the other hand, some of the tied note durations are long enough that you are going to have to count them out in order to come back in at the right time (measure 7-8, for example).

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    My apologies to any subscribers who received the first notification with no transcription. I was using a new blog post editor (Cornerstone), and didn’t realize that it immediately published the contents of what I was writing when I pressed the save button (at least I thought that was a “Save” button).

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