Free Mini-Lesson: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – Theme from Swan Lake
Thanks to the award-winning film, Black Swan, the music from Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity. This piece, the ballet’s central theme, is one of the most-beloved pieces from this work.
On the classical guitar, the piece takes on a more fragile character, an intimate portrait of the main character, Odette, who has been turned into a swan under the spell of a sorcerer. The tragic tone of the music, amplified in the orchestral version, comes up close and personal when played on the guitar.
This guitar transcription is in the key of E minor.
A prolific composer, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) wrote music for nearly every concert genre. Concertos, symphonies, chamber music, ballets, operas, songs, and other instrumental music all appear in a catalogue of his works. His personal life, however, was one of tragedy. Suffering from depression, Tchaikovsky battled an unsupportive family, a repressive society, a difficult marriage, and several relationships which ended badly, while still producing an impressive number of quality compositions.
Tchaikovsky’s passionate, romantic style has made his music some of the most popular ever written. His legacy transcends both borders and time.
Spot Practice Clip:
This is a great passage that starts in the first position and gradually crawls up to the twelfth fret of the fingerboard. The position shifts might feel rough at first. At first, It is fine to practice out of tempo until you get comfortable with the full bars and the sustained notes on the bass strings. Then, gradually work your way back into tempo.