The Segovia Style

The heart of the music of the great Andrès Segovia


"Another element deemed pertinent here is that
whereas many will assert that the technique of the
concert guitar has evolved since its emergence from beneath the magisterial
canopy of the Maestro's active concert career, it is
nevertheless easily discernable (to all who care to make the comparison)
that the pool of used resources generally employed has been, in the main,
actually shrinking."

by Phillip de Fremery, Foreword from "Andres Segovia Trascripciones"
Ed. Bèrben (A. Gilardino, P. de Fremery)


Andrés Segovia Video Archive



H. Villa Lobos : Prelude 1


J. S. Bach : Preludio Suite I BWV 1007


More details about Segovia's guitar style at Daniele Magli's blog

I will try to analize the elements concerning the Segovia Style starting from
this foreword Becouse I'm sure studying Segovia Style is important for every classical guitarist as a starting point and then to find a personal style.
The aim is to avoid guitarists to become perfect in tecnique but all anonimous and interchangeable.

However, I'm going to give you my opinion about all methods and DVD on the Segovia style: I will add information about all Segovia records but I can assure you that all Deutsche Grammophon CD are absolutely fantastic.

Just to begin it I shared the Segovia style in 5 main points:

1) A personal way to fingering
2) Various types of vibrato
3) Various types of rubato
4) Slurs
5) Glissando

10th February 2007

Andres Segovia (1893-1987)

His style origin

During the romantic period the performer was the king, the music was only a vehicle to express one's individuality. A pianist as Franz Liszt could change the tempo and composer porpouses even when playing Beethoven. Rubato ad libitum was the rule of the day. The Segovia style began to take shape during the romantic period.

Segovia lernt a lot of pieces of his early repertoire from Llobet (Tarrega's apprentice) watching him at play. Moreover the luthier Antonio Torres (1817-1892) devoloped some of the major structural characteristics of the modern classic guitar. Torres fixed standards of fingerboard dimension and standardized the vibrating string lenght at sixty-five centimeters: above all Torres's guitars were well tuned and sound good at the higher positions too. Thanks to these guitars Francisco Tarrega could develope a horizontal approach to fingering, that's the style he teached to Llobet and then Llobet teached it to Segovia.

The interpretation by Segovia are highly subjective and individualistic because as remembered from the concert artist Eliot Fisk (one of the most famous Segovia Style expert) "We do not have to copy everithing that Segovia did, but understanding his approach does give us an invaluable insight...".

Segovia didn't copy Llobet style for sure, but he learnt the great possibility offered by the classical guitar to express ourselves and tell our history.

Segovia was used to play with Augustine strings :


Segovia scales

Ed Columbia Music Co., cover design by Vladimir Bobri

Segovia scales are, on my opinion, the first step to learn Segovia mouvements on the fingerboard and the style applyed by the andaluzo Maestro in his pieces: he used various standards to memorize faster the music. I want to remember that Segovia was engaged in a concert tour for 77 years: when not in a concert he busy on recording, it's about 30 records from 1927 to 1977.

I advice you to purchase these scales and to play them every day for 10 minutes at least.


As Andrés Segovia wrote in 'Major and Minor diatonic scales' preface: 'in order to derive the greatest possible benefit from the following exercices, play them slowly and vigorously at first, more lightly and rapidly later. Many hours of arduous and frequently futile exercises can be condensed into one hour of scales. The practice of scales enables one to solve a greater number of technical problems in a shorter time than the study of any other exercise.'

My experience teached me that Segovia scales were the basic point to build my classical guitarist technique but they allowed me to start again playing the guitar after a period of pause too.

It's really important to start again playing guitar using Segovia scales. I usually play all scales in turn from C major to D minor after choosing one of the possible right hand fingering every day.

Referring to the right hand I sometimes apply some peronal variation as p e i or only p with pizzicato technique.

The main problem to play all scales in turn is memorization. But this results easier think about different patterns to shift along the fingerboard.

1) Let's start from C major and shift it one fret forward to become Db, D, Eb, E.

2) Then try to memorize the G major pattern and shift it to Gb, Ab, A, Bb, B.

3) After a while try to memorize the A minor pattern: this pattern is a little more difficoult because we are not used to think or sing the minor scale and when it's a descending one and its alterate notes becomes natural notes it's even worse. It's time to transpose this pattern only once you are able to play it fine. This pattern have to be transposed going backward on the fingerboard as Ab minor, G minor, Gb minor and F minor.

4) Once this work is done, you'll know sixteen Segovia's scales! The road towards the full turn of all scales is now easier.


An Interview with Andrea Segovia and Moreno Torroba


March, 10th 2007

Segovia applied so often the rolled chords technique .

Segovia worked dayly to ensure that his nails were in the right conditions as Vladimir Bobri wrote in his book "The Segovia Technique".

Segovia varied the sound in terms of its coloristic quality or its dynamic level. Segovia's example shows us that many nuances of shading are possible, and a simplicistic "ponticello" to "dolce" description really does not do justice to the many artistic application of color. It is necessary to listen to Segovia's records, but above all it is necessary to watch the Film Documentaries by Chrisopher Nupen :

"Segovia at Los Olivos"

Shot in Segovia's home in the Costa del Sol in Andalucia on 1967 when he was 75, and thought by Segovia to be the best thing he ever did for television.

"Segovia: the song of the guitar"

Filmed in Granada and the Palaces of the Alhambra on 1976 when the Grand Master was 84 years old.

We can admire Segovia technique, his hands mouvements, all the coloristic timbre variety from these astonishing films shootings.The Segovia interview is very interesting, here we can find Segovia speaking about himself plainly and truly, talking about his victory against the audience fear and its battles to enlarge the classical guitar repertoire aiming at persuading the greatest composer to write for classical guitar. In Segovia's statements we can see that what allowed him to state him as a concert guitar player was his strong will to do not ditract himself from others talents he owned.

November 1st, 2007

Segovia Vibrato Style

Vibrato's origins comes from the vocal technique. Vocalists describe it as a tune oscillation adding vitality and harmonics richness to the sound. Segovia was accused of exceeding in vibrato usage sometimes but his vibrato gave a natural quality to his music. Thanks to the Vibrato Segovia made the guitar sing.

Segovia Rubato Style

This term is an italian word wich litterally means 'robbed' and applied to Segovia's music it's robbing time from the rhythmic pulse of a piece.


November 17th, 2007

A new look at Segovia

Do you really want to improove your knowledge about Andres Segovia ? I suggest you 'A new look at Segovia' by Graham Wade and Gerard Garno, it' two vulumes, 500 pages each ed Mel Bay Publications. In this books you'll find:

- Andres Segovia bioghraphy and all his perfomance programs (votes *****)

- The Segovia style : four pages explaining Segovia's way of playing (votes ***)

- A lot of scores taken from Segovia's repertoire, with historycal explanation and comparations betwwen the original composer version and Segovia's early interpretations and Segovia's late interpretations. (votes ****)

(maximum votes ***** five stars)

Segovia style videos here

Daniele Magli plays using Segovia style on this three pieces

Arada by Federico Moreno Torroba,

Bourre\E9 BVW1002 by Johann Sebastian Bach,

Gavotte 1 and 2 by Johann Sebastian Bach

according to Ed. Schott, fingered by Andres Segovia, Daniele Magli just added a few changes taken from Andre's Segovia videos on YouTube. You can find them too at guitar video history pages on this site.


Three good records by Andrés Segovia

There are three CD's by Deutsche Grammophon, they are very important to learn Segovia's style

1) The Art Of Segovia *****

It contains works by Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Frederich Chopin, Claude Debussy, John Dowland, Manuel de Falla, Cesar Fanck, Nicolò Paganini, Joaquin Rodrigo, Fernando Sor, Joaquin Turina and others...

2) Segovia The Great Master *****

It contains works by Antonio Lauro, Silvius Leopold Weiss, Alexandre Tansman, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Luis Milan, Luis de Narvaez, Domenico Scarlatti, Robert De Visee, Oscar Espla' and others...

3) Andrés Segovia Dedication *****

It contains works by Manuel Maria Ponce (Sonata Romantica, Sonata Clasica, Sonata Mexicana, Sonata n. 3), Heitor Villa-Lobos, Alexandre Tansman (Cavatina), Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (Platero y Yo), Joan Manén (Fantasia-Sonata), Albert Harris (Variations and Fugue on a theme of Handel), John W. Duarte (English Suite).



Segovia masterclass Chaconne J.S.Bach 1/4

Segovia masterclass Chaconne J.S.Bach 2/4

Segovia masterclass Chaconne J.S.Bach 3/4

Segovia masterclass Chaconne J.S.Bach 4/4


September 16th, 2008

L'hereu Riera

Playing the Segovia style now a day means playing classical guitar as it was used in another age. The Andalusian Maestro was influenced by the romantic style of LLobet and by the music surrounding him during his studing years, surely he was influenced by jazz music and by 1920 - 30' music as well. The Segovia style is really a pleasent and funny way to play classica guitar although reproducing all his expressice coluors (Segovia was used to put them inside a musical piece) it's really difficoult to achieve. Let's watch for example the catalan song L'hereu Riera :

At first sight we can notice that Segovia is not playing exactly the arrangement by Llobet but he changed it for the following reasons:

1) To fit the arrangement for his left hand

2) to make the arrangement easier or more expressive

3) to increase the staging effect

Referring to this last point we want to remember that Segovia was used to play a hundred or two hundreds concerts a year without using amplifiers or microphones becouse he absolutely disliked such things. We should say, anyway, that today's microphones are far better now and, for example, the classical guitarist John Williams can play being amplified without lack of the caratheristics of his sound.

Segovia needed arrangements to highlights the power of his sound spreading his music untill the last seats of the theatre. It's true, anyway, that Segovia was used to grant him a lot of musical freedom, when transcribing a piece by Handel or Albeniz and when playing pieces by contemporary composers and friends as Castelnuovo-Tedesco or Manuel Ponce.

It's just since a few years that we have found the original scores by this great composers and seldom they are so much different from Segovia's versions. However it's really inspiring to study the playing style by Andrés Segovia.

Regarding the Segovia left hand athletic shape we could say he had a really strong little finger and very well trained too : he could alternate the little finger use to the frequent barré (index finger). That's why we could say that the little finger and the index finger where the most important fingers for the Segovia's left hand.

Daniele Magli


Segovia Documentary about the American Tour



Check out the Daniele Magli's classical guitar blog at


I will add further information as soon as possible but I want to leave you with a Segovia statement :

"Guitar is the most easy instrument to be played bad and the most difficult instrument to be played well"