Most discussion among players of the modernclassical guitar regarding the early 19th century guitar has been backward looking, that is, either looking at ways of playing this repertoire on a modern instrument in a modern style, or how to imitate the stylistic
features of the period on a modern guitar. I will focus instead on coming towards Sor andhis contemporaries from before their period, asclearly each age either develops what has gone before or rejects it completely and strikes out in a new way. I will therefore delve
into the roots of the style,uncovering the development of technique, instrument and repertoire. I will not consider the uses of this for the modern classical guitar, but will present instead (for better or worse) a more purist approach.
Two of the guitarists we know most about both happen to have been Spaniards, and both happened to have lived in the same hotel for a few years. They were good friends who supported each other’s efforts and even composed music for each other to play. Despite
this, they had radically different approaches both to technique and to music itself. Their names are Fernando Sor and Dionisio Aguado. Sor’s technique is very interesting. He discusses it in his ‘Méthode pour la Guitare’ – published in Paris in 1830, when Sor was 52 years old. It was published in an English translation two years later as the ‘Method for the Spanish Guitar’. It is difficult to discuss Sor’s technique without first mentioning its relationship with harmony. Indeed, harmony is fundamental to Sor’s approach to guitar playing.