El Noi de la Mare—arranged by Miguel Llobet

Classical guitar El Noi de la Mare is a Catalan folk song, both a lullaby and a Christmas song. The title is Catalan for the mother's baby boy, where the mother refers to the Virgin Mary and the boy is the baby Jesus. It is one of Miguel Llobet's best known arrangements of Catalan folk songs.

Although in principle a simple piece, El Noi de la Mare features some difficult left hand fingering, causing me to rate it of medium difficulty. Even famous professional guitar players will simplify some of the fingerings by omitting or replacing notes. I recommend you avoid such shortcuts. If you persevere to the point you can play the one or two hard parts at tempo, you will find your overall playing has improved.

The arrangement uses a dropped-D tuning and consists of three voices. A bass pattern and the mid-range of the chords provide the rhythm section while the high strings provide the main melody. The music allows a lot of room for interpretation, from choice of tempo to tone production. Different textures result from arpeggiating or plucking the chords as well as playing near the bridge or near the fretboard.

The parts presenting the most difficulty to players are the inverted A major chord in measure 3, the Gmaj9omit5 in measure 7, and the stretch required for the G major in measures 11 and 15. The inverted A major isn't as hard as it seems. Keep finger 4 in place on the immediately preceding A which will form part of the chord. Then move your remaining fingers into place. The trick is to lift finger 1, allowing 2 and 3 to move and then place finger 1 back down on the second fret of the 3rd string. Finger 4 stays in place and, despite lifting, finger 1 doesn't move to a new note; so you're really only changing the position of fingers 2 and 3.

In measure 7, you may be tempted to leave out the B in the Gmaj9omit5 to make it easier to play. You shouldn't do that for a couple of reasons. The chord is already missing a fifth. If you omit the third, is it really a G chord of any sort? Also, without the G, the chord is a Bm7sus. The measure starts with a B minor, but the B bass note cannot be sustained. Despite not continuing to sound, a sense of the B remains, giving the following minor third interval the feel of a complete E minor chord. Ditching the B destroys the harmonic link to the beginning of the measure. Llobet was quite expert at harmony, orchestrating each string as a separate instrument. Removing his carefully chosen notes invariably degrades his music.

Instead of taking a shortcut, the trick to playing the Gmaj9omit5 without losing a beat lies in the preceding chords. As soon as you switch from the Bm to the minor third interval, point finger 1 roughly perpendicular to the neck of the guitar. Don't tense it, just make sure it isn't overly curled. This creates the room you need to move fingers 2 and 3 into position (4 stays in place) while bending finger 1 onto the third string. You should also drop your elbow and pull your arm closer to your torso when switching from the Bm.

I don't really have any suggestions about the G major in measures 11 and 15. Either your hand can make the stretch or it can't. If your hand is physically large enough, but you can't do it, then you need only practice a little bit every day until you can do it. If your hand is not physically large enough for the guitar you own, you will need a smaller guitar.

I've made very few edits to the music, none of any significance. The original doesn't list a tempo. I've listed a suggested tempo. You may ignore the slide in measure 3. That's simply how I tend to play that transition. I've added a rallentando and a fermata in the penultimate measure. It's likely most guitarists would play it that way without thinking about it, so I notated it explicitly. If you disagree, ignore the change. Finally, I added a final measure with a soft chord reprising the original final chord in a different voicing. It turns out Andrés Segovia would do the same thing, but play it strongly. You may ignore this as well.

I have not provided right hand fingering because it's pretty straightforward. The left hand fingering for measures 14 and 16 could be changed to use strings 2–4 in place of 1–3. It's really just a matter of taste. You could even play one measure one way and the other measure another way. Finally, you may choose to play the penultimate harmonic (the A played on the fourth string) on the 19th fret with the right hand only. That may facilitate getting both your left and right hands in position to the play the final harmonic. The final harmonic is an artificial harmonic. Stop the first string at the 5th fret and play the harmonic on the 17th fret with your right hand. Place your right hand index finger on the string above the fret and simultaneously pluck the string with your thumb, lifting your hand in time to avoid muting the string.