Lágrima by Francisco Tárrega

Classical guitar The story goes that Francisco Tárrega composed Lágrima sometime in 1881 while performing in London. He is said to have been depressed and homesick. When some onlookers noticed his melancholoy, they suggested he write a song describing it. I find the story dubious because I've never seen a primary source cited for it. Nevertheless, the song evokes strong emotions in some listeners, causing some I've witnessed to weep (not because the playing was awful).

Lágrima follows an AABBA structure. I've seen it reported that there exists a missing C part and that the song has been published with AACCABBA and AABBCA structures. I've never found the missing section and there is apparently some question as to its authenticity. I would like to find it someday because, to me, the song sounds incomplete. That said, it is a prelude after all. I only ever play it as a prelude to a longer piece in E minor.

This transcription is drawn from versions made available by the Biblioteca Nacional de España and the Rischel and Birket-Smith Collection of Guitar Music at the Danish Royal Library's National Digital Sheet Music Archive.[1] This piece is worth learning to understand what prompted Agustín Barrios to compose Variaciones Sobre un Tema de Tárrega.

Everyone plays this song differently—even the Birket-Smith manuscript contains penciled-in notes for alternative positions and fingerings. My arrangement is different as well. I've included a portamento in measure nine that is often omitted. Also, I've notated the application of vibrato to the last note of measure 12 along with a fermata. The note should be held just long enough to hear the effect of the vibrato, but no longer. You may ignore these additions.

Actively Maintained LilyPond Output
Sheet Music

Revision History
Revision 2.1.12020-02-15 

Changed measures 6 and 7 to use Tárrega's original open string left-hand fingering and placed alternate fingering in ossia.

Revision 2.1.02017-06-03 

Added ossia measures with Tárrega's original open string left-hand fingering for measures 6 and 7.

Revision 2.0.32017-05-12 

Changed left-hand fingering for D♯ in measure 7 from finger 3 to finger 4.

Revision 2.0.22014-11-25 

Removed unnecessary first position symbols and added "senza replica" to the "D.C. al Fine" to make it clear you play the A part once only to end the piece.

Revision 2.0.12014-09-17 

Changed the slide in measure nine to what from all evidence I can gather was Tárrega's original intent, which is a portamento from the G to the C. The effect is almost identical, but my original interpretation exaggerates the effect, making it more obvious to the listener. I originally notated it differently, in part because the proper playing of the portamento—which in this case is, in effect, a slide ending on a grace note—is less obvious to the novice than a slide that starts with a grace note. The portamento does not actually require notating a grace note and can be notated as a slide with no slur from the G to C. Unfortunately, there is much confusion amongst guitarists and music publishers about the difference between an unslurred slide where the ending note is struck and a guide finger indication (which should connect from finger number to finger number instead of notehead to notehead), making it necessary to notate a grace note for clarity.

Revision 2.0.02014-03-01 

Renotated using LilyPond, making some minor changes along the way. I updated right-hand fingering and made some note durations more accurate (e.g., the F♯ in measures 2 and 4 is now a dotted half note instead of a quarter note). I've retained the previous version generated with Sibelius for those who want tablature or wish to compare Sibelius and LilyPond output.

Unmaintained Sibelius Output
Sheet MusicSheet Music w/o Tablature

[1] I don't provide direct links because the URLs have changed over time and cannot be counted on to remain the same. You can find the score easily by performing a search within the respective sheet music archives.