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How to Play Malagueña (Easy)

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Video Transcript

Here's a simple version of Malagueña that will give you a chance to practice a little tremolo finger picking.

The “tremolo” technique is essentially a single note picked quickly. In Spanish and Flamenco music this is done with your fingers. Typically on an open string while you’re playing a melody on other strings.

This whole exercise is built around 2 chords. A simplified version of the E chord and a simplified version of the Am chord. Both of them use just two fingers, and they're very similar in shape.

Let's play the E chord first: 

  • First String: Open
  • Second String: Open
  • Third String: First fret (index finger)
  • Fourth String: Second fret (middle finger)

Now to make that A minor chord, we move everything up one string: 

  • First String: Open
  • Second String: First fret (index finger)
  • Third String: Second fret (middle finger)

Practice strumming between these chords for a minute to get used to the new shapes.

For the E chord finger picking pattern, you’ll hit the fourth, third, and second strings with your thumb. Your index and middle fingers will play the tremolo on the first string (high e). First, make the E chord.

The picking pattern will go like this:

  • Thumb-index-middle. Thumb-index-middle.

The strings picked will be like this:

  • Fourth-first-first
  • Third-first-first
  • Second-first-first

So you’ll play the first string twice after each bass/melody note. (To hear this, go to 0:07 of the video). Try playing this a few times before moving to the Am chord.

Once you’re ready we will move over to the Am chord. This has a little more left hand movement. Just like the E chord, you’ll play two open high e notes after every bass note. The bass notes won’t just be the chord notes though.

Here’s the pattern. To make it easier to read, I’ll only list the bass notes below. Just remember to play two open notes on the high e with your index and middle fingers after each bass note.

  • Third string: Second fret
  • Second string: First fret
  • Second string: Open
  • Third string: Second fret
  • Third string: Open
  • Fourth string: Third fret

(For a demo on how it sounds, go to 2:27 of the video)

The whole progression will be the E pattern twice, and Am pattern once. Then back to the E to start over. Play this at a slower tempo until you’re 80% there with it. You can gradually increase the tempo over time.

Good work! Be patient, take your time, and have fun with this.

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  1. Hello Tomas,

    I really enjoy learning to play Malagueña. And I am looking forward to learning all of the Spanish guitar tutorials in your repertoire. When I was a child I learned to strum on the Ukelele but I have always wanted to learn to play the guitar mostly because of the sound of the bass strings. I am retired now but I still have the desire to learn to play the guitar. My passion is for the Spanish style and you seem to have a nice way of teaching. So I am going to try to learn that style with you.

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