Villa-Lobos Prelude 1 Lesson

Prelude Number 1 by Heitor Villa-Lobos is one of the great works composed for classical guitar. From its full sounding resonance to the cello-like melody, this piece has been a favorite of students and concert performers alike.

The Bass Line

The main melody of the first section features a cell0-like bass line. Because it’s so prominent, it’s important to consider the sound of your right-hand thumb. We want a full, thick sound here. Two things will help with this:

  1. The angle and type of stroke you use;
  2. And using vibrato in the right hand.

One way to work on these aspects is to play as scale out of the opening notes on the fifth string. Listening to the sound you’re making and making adjustments will be key here.

Bringing the wrist up a bit will allow you to do a rest stroke very easily. This can add some thickness to the sound. Listen to the sound you get with the rest stroke and then try to match that sound with your free stroke.

The Accompaniment

The accompaniment in this piece is probably the most distorted rhythmic aspect of this piece. Often people cram the eighth notes in without paying attention to the rhythm. Instead, start off playing in time with a metronome. This will allow you to feel a firm pulse.

Now, you’ll notice the piece is in 3/4 time signature. And the bass line falls in that 3/4 feel very well. However, the accompaniment fits better in a 6/8 feel. This adds complexity to the rhythm, blending these two time signatures together.


This video covers several of the main concepts in the piece, but it is just one part of a seven-part course available to members at Classical Guitar Corner Academy. If you would like to access the full course, and hundreds of other lessons, you can start your membership here.