Learn Four Classical and Traditional Songs in Open Tunings

These approachable pieces will be great additions to your fingerstyle repertoire.

Here we’ll check out some classical and traditional instrumentals in DADGAD and open-G tunings: four approachable pieces that will be great additions to your fingerstyle repertoire.

J.S. Bach’s ‘Minuet in D Minor’ in DADGAD Tuning

Every guitarist should learn to play a little Bach. Considered one of the greatest composers of all time, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) defines the Baroque style, and his contrapuntal and motivic writing was revolutionary at the time. 

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Bach wrote the “Minuet in D Minor” as part of a collection of compositions known as Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. Originally written for harpsichord, the piece has been frequently transcribed for guitar. Learn Teja Gerken’s arrangement here.

‘Spanish Fandango’: A 19th-Century Acoustic Classic in Open-G Tuning

Perhaps the original exponent of the British guitar invasion, Henry Worrall scored his biggest hit with “Spanish Fandango,” a bright melody in triple meter, played in open-G tuning. The piece was originally published in 6/8, but I’ve notated the main theme here in 3/4, which many guitarists find easier to read. Check out the notation and a video lesson by Steve James here.

A Traditional Hymn in DADGAD Tuning

In 1984, Steve Baughman was putting himself through college, working as a security guard in an old folks’ home, when he heard one of the residents play “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” on the piano. Baughman was struck by the bombastic quality of this old Charles Wesley hymn, which he captures nicely in his arrangement for solo guitar. See full performance notes, plus notation and a video demo here.

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‘The Choice Wife’: A Celtic Classic by Any Name

Traditional Celtic melodies like “The Choice Wife” are as varied in their titles as in their interpretations. In his arrangement for solo guitar, Petteway strikes a good balance between nailing all the traditional mannerisms and putting his own spin on the music. As such, it represents an excellent introduction to fingerstyle Celtic guitar—and a sweet selection to add to your repertoire.

You might also like Celtic Songs for Fingerstyle Guitar, available at store.acousticguitar.com.

Adam Perlmutter
Adam Perlmutter

Adam Perlmutter holds a bachelor of music degree from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro and a master's degree in Contemporary Improvisation from the New England Conservatory. He is the editor of Acoustic Guitar.

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