Andrés Segovia Classical Guitar Left-Hand Technique Right-hand Technique Scales Technique Way Of The Guitar

The Segovia Scales: Foundations of Classical Guitar Technique

Why practice the Segovia Scales?

Guitarists have an opportunity to hone a great number of technical and musical skills while practicing the Segovia Scales. 

Here are some of the areas, if consciously focused upon, that will see marked improvement:

– finger alternation
– coordination & synchronization of the hands
– efficiency & lightness of technique
– articulation (legato and staccato playing)
– shifts
– elasticity and flexibility in both hands
– knowledge of equivalent fingerings
– high register playing
– tone production & projection
– mastery of free stroke & rest stroke technique
– string-crossings (in both hands)

The topics above (and many more) will be addressed in the Technique Masterclass videos found in each chapter.

Remember these words from Maestro Segovia:

“In one hour of scales may be condensed many hours of arduous exercises which are frequently futile.”

What are the Segovia Scales?

Historical Background

Though there are now thousands of books published with fingering systems for scales, Segovia’s publication, Diatonic Major and Minor Scales, published in the early 20th century, was one of the very first to include all of the major and melodic minor scales presented in a logical fashion. 

Due to his towering stature as an artist and pioneering accomplishments, his scale system has become the standard for guitar pedagogy worldwide.

What is the Segovia approach to scale fingerings?

Segovia scales are in two or three octaves, and consist of a fingering approach that avoids left-hand extensions and contractions, and uses shifts of position to connect various registers of the instrument. Often, the fingerings are different ascending and descending, which helps us learn equivalent fingerings for notes across the fretboard.

The number of unique fingering patterns:

Although there are 24 scales in the Segovia system, 12 major, and 12 melodic minor scales, there are only eight unique fingering patterns. 

Here is a breakdown of the patterns and which major and minor keys belong to each:

Pattern #1 (Two-Octave Major Scales): C, D♭, D, E♭ (starting on the 5th string)
Pattern #2 (Three-Octave Major Scales): F♯, G, A♭, A, B♭, B (starting on the 6th string)
Pattern #3 (Two-Octave Melodic Minor Scales): c, c♯, d, d♯ (starting on the 5th string)
Pattern #4 (Three-Octave Melodic Minor Scales): f, f♯, g, g♯, a (starting on the 6th string)
Pattern #5 (Three-Octave Melodic Minor Scales): b♭, b (starting on the 5th string)
Pattern #6 (Three-Octave Major Scale): E (starting on the 6th string)
Pattern #7 (Three-Octave Major Scale): F (starting on the 6th string)
Pattern #8 (Three-Octave Melodic Minor Scale): e (starting on the 6th string)

Segovia’s Right-Hand Fingerings (Plus One!)

Segovia’s original book suggests practicing the scales with the following right hand fingering combinations:

im, mi, ma, am, ia, ai, imam

In this course, we will practice all of Segovia’s suggested fingerings for the right hand, plus one additional combination – “amim“.

This gives us a total of eight right-hand patterns. 

The Cycle of Fifths:

Segovia published the scales in the (clockwise) order of the Circle of Fifths:

Towards the end of the course, we will practice the entire set of 24 scales in Segovia’s original Cycle of Fifths order.

First, for efficiency’s sake, let’s learn the eight patterns, one at a time.

Chapter One: Scale Pattern #1, Two-Octave Major Scales: C, D♭, D, E♭ (starting on the 5th string)

Scale Pattern #1: Two-Octave C Major Scale starting on the 5th string

– learning one octave at a time
– learn and say the note letter names 🙂

Right-Hand Fingering & Repeated Notes: “im”

– practicing the right hand alone: “im”
– repeated notes: “6 strokes per note” (also, odd numbers = “alternating crossings”)
– putting the hands together

Technique Masterclass #1: Thoughts on Free Stroke & Rest Stroke

– right-hand thumb “planting” in free stroke technique (string-below-the-string you’re playing)
– advantages of the free-floating thumb in rest stroke
– stationary thumb in rest stroke technique
– maintaining the degree of curvature in the fingers while crossing strings (both stroke types)
– instantaneous relaxation as recovery phase and preparation for upcoming stroke
– base-joint as the origin of motion (tip-joint relaxed, or not?)
– wrist & arm mechanics (rotation as compensation for varying finger length)
– wrist & arm mechanics (“feeding” the right arm, thumb on the wood)

Transposing Pattern #1: Moving the Two-Octave C Major Scale to D♭, D, E♭

– How-to: thoughts on transposing the scales

Practice-Along: All Pattern #1 Scales as a Single “Flow”

– three speeds: half, quarter, and eighth notes at 135 BPM

Part 1 (half-notes):

Part 2 (quarter &: eighth-notes):

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