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Play Bass Guitar like Paul McCartney

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How to Play Bass Guitar like Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney might just be the most famous bass player of all time. Beginning with his career in the Beatles and continuing through his careers with Wings and as a solo artist, McCartney has revolutionized the role of the bass in popular music, and changed the image of the bass guitar overall. Bassists today, in all genres, owe a lot of their presence and style to Sir Paul.

Over the course of his storied lifetime, Paul McCartney has shifted between a wide variety of different bass styles. His playing has evolved consistently, and at times it’s taken left turns into new genres entirely.

That evolution has helped make Paul one of the most enjoyable bass players to listen to in the history of rock and roll. While they might be complex, dense, or even difficult to wrap your head around, McCartney’s bass parts are almost always interesting.

He’s demonstrated all of the different ways how the bass guitar can drive a song — from holding down the rhythm with rock-solid ostinato grooves to flying over the drums and providing an iconic hook that sticks in the ears of all of the listeners.

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Guide Breakdown

If you want to learn how to play bass guitar (or find a good bass model for beginners), Paul McCartney is an essential player to learn from.

No matter which styles of bass guitar you like to play, Paul’s career will offer something for you — he’s dabbled in a lot of different styles, which makes him one of the most revered and versatile bass players ever to pick up the instrument.

This guide discusses everything that you need to know in order to play like Paul McCartney.

We’ll discuss the specifics of his technique, as well as many of the general ideas to keep in mind if you want to play like Paul McCartney. These ideas include broad areas to focus on, as well as more specific points to help improve your playing style and help you find your sound.

Finally, we’ll touch on some of the gear that you might want to buy in order to emulate Paul McCartney’s tone.

A lot of the items that McCartney has used throughout his music career have been very expensive. The large amounts of gear that he’s used also makes it difficult to emulate ihm exactly. Oftentimes, McCartney would adopt one or two main basses for his time with one group, and then move on when those groups broke up or petered out.

However, when those expensive cases come up, we’ll provide affordable alternatives and explain what makes them the best choice for players on a tighter budget. Paul’s lasting influence on the bass guitar world means that most.

Playing Style: Goals

If you’re setting out to emulate a particular musician when they do something, it’s absolutely essential to keep their goals and contexts in mind. Simply put, if you’re not playing towards the same goals as the musicians that you want to sound like, you’ll find it very difficult to emulate them successfully.

Without reflecting on the long-term creative goals of your favorite players and how they achieved those in their playing, it will be difficult to provide any decent approximation of their sound. You won’t be thinking about the parts in the same way, and won’t frame them within the right context to serve the song and the creative vision accurately.

With that warning in mind, here are some of Paul McCartney’s goals when he plays bass guitar. I’ve collected many of these goals just from observing his playing style and the music he makes. I’ve also come to recognize how his playing style changes as his big-picture goals shift.

With the Beatles

On a lot of the Beatles’ records, Paul felt moved to write rhythmic parts to anchor a groove behind a band over top. This was particularly noteworthy during the band’s first few records, which prioritized faster tempos and quick, danceable grooves. Paul needed to establish a consistent, tight bassline in order to lock in with Ringo Starr on the drums.

As the band began to mature, McCartney’s goals changed a bit. Rather than hitting a pulse on every beat, he began to focus on using the bass to create proper melodies. Instead of backing up the rhythm guitar or just playing the root note of every chord, these bass lines were unique, melodic, and much more articulate.

Of course, Paul could still deliver a pounding, groovy bassline — just check out his work on White Album tracks like “Helter Skelter” or “Yer Blues”! But instead of focusing exclusively on these styles, McCartney was able to expand his range and palette significantly.

Wings & Solo Artist

As a solo artist after the breakup of the Beatles, McCartney began to blend some of these techniques to create a new style on the bass. A lot of tracks, like “Hi Hi Hi,” focused on driving the beat forward with a chugging bassline, just like he did in the early days of the Beatles.

However, he also had a lot of softer, suave basslines, like on his album Band on the Run. Te mixes of these different styles continued the work he had done in the Beatles’ later years, and brought some trends back forward from the early work of the group.

This synthesis of different styles yielded a lot of great work, although it’s also been a bit more inconsistent than a lot of his work in the Beatles. Obviously, having the songwriting geniuses of John Lennon (who was also a great rhythm guitarist) and George Harrison to work with couldn’t have hurt!

Overall, though, all different pieces of McCartney’s career have a lot of valuable techniques which you can learn from to play bass like him.

With that in mind, let’s get into the specific techniques McCartney uses, so you can learn how to play like him! Then, we’ll break down his favorite pieces of gear.

Bass Guitar Techniques

Any bassist with a career as long as McCartney’s will use a ton of different techniques. That makes it difficult, if not impossible, to cover all of them in one short article. However, if you want to get a quick estimation of McCartney’s talents and playing style, these techniques are some of his favorites. Learning how to use these skills will help you sound and feel like Paul on the bass.

Playing With a Pick

Playing with a pick is a pretty divisive technique in the bass community — some bassists love the sound and feel that it affords them, while other maintain that picks are for guitars only — and that bassists who play with one should learn how to play with their fingers instead.

Of course, these debates are often a bit silly. There’s no such thing as a “right” or “wrong” sound on the instrument, and even what makes a given bass tone sound “good” is highly subjective. However, if you want to play like Paul McCartney, playing with a pick is absolutely essential.

Paul played with a pick from his earliest days on the instrument, and continued this habit all throughout his career. It’s rare to find a Beatles where he plays with his fingers instead. Using a pick has a number of tonal advantages, particularly with the violin-style basses that Paul liked to use. We’ll focus on the violin basses in more depth later, but for now let’s talk about picking.

Playing bass with a pick increases your attack on the instrument — this means that the note is sharper, more precise, and more “in your face.” If you listen to clips of bassists comparing fingerstyle playing to playing with a pick (like the video that we’ve featured above), you’ll see the difference in attack.

Like the attack, you can play with a pick to get more presence out of your bass. The exact meaning of the term “presence” is a bit nebulous to some, but it generally signifies a better response in the midrange and upper registers of the bass.

Listeners often perceive a bass tone with a lot of presence as sharper, or more distinct. Notes don’t blend together as much, and it’s easier to hear dynamics, rhythm, and phrasing. That top boost is also handy, particularly when playing with hollow-body basses. Semi- and fully hollow basses add a round, warm acoustic tone to your bass. Playing with a pick balances it out.

If you’re looking for examples where McCartney’s pick playing made a difference in his tone, all you need to do is check out some Beatles records. It’s a consistent presence throughout, but you will hear it more easily on some songs than on others.

“I Saw Her Standing There,” from the band’s first album Please Please Me, is a good example to listen to. Notice how bouncy and crisp each note is on the bass. The attack and cutting tone of Paul’s pick makes the bassline go, and drives the song forward by extension.

From the Beatles’ later work, “Come Together” is another easy option to hear the way that playing with a pick changes your tone. This song is the opening track on Abbey Road, and its bassline is one of the most famous of all time. Once again, you can hear how the pick keeps every note in the riff clear and defined. It provides better phrasing and a clearer sound overall.

Blues Vocabulary

While there were certainly mechanical aspects that influenced Paul’s playing style and sound, most of his crucial techniques had to do with how he actually played the notes. In that regard, one of his first and most prominent influences was the blues.

Blues permeated the early rock and roll records that he listened to before the Beatles were founded, and that style of music provided the band’s main inspiration for the first half of their career. If you want to find a great blues guitar on a budget, check out our comprehensive guide to the best cheap blues guitars.

Paul incorporated a lot of the language of early rock and roll and used it in his playing. All you need to do is listen to the chord progressions and rhythmic, driving basslines of albums like With the Beatles and A Hard Days’ Night to understand the role that blues music served in Paul’s style on the bass.

This is particularly prominent on the Beatles’ cover songs. They often covered blues songs outright, like Chuck Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” or Berry Gordy’s “Money (That’s What I Want).” These songs provided a forum for McCartney to demonstrate his skill at playing blues bass, and incorporate that influence into his playing on other songs as well.

Becoming fluent in blues guitar playing takes a bit of effort. There are a lot of different aspects you’ll need to know, like how to play over a 12 bar blues sequence and how to play blues turnarounds. You might also want to learn some basic blues improvisation, because these techniques will help you play bass like Paul McCartney.

Uses for Blues

Paul used these techniques for a few main reasons. First, the blues emphasize stock, repetitive chord progressions that make it easy to drive a song forward. Rather than focusing on the root of every chord and just playing one note in each chord, 12 bar blues songs allow plenty of time for bassists to establish a rhythm through driving, repetitive playing.

The rhythm of the blues also translates to a lot of other styles of early rock and roll. Lots of blues and rockabilly songs, particularly those released in the 1950s, emphasize syncopation and swing. These aspects are important to know, because Paul often incorporated swing feeling into his bass playing.

If you learn how to play blues, your time feel and rhythmic skills will improve, which will in turn allow you to play more consistent swung basslines and sound like Sir Paul. Combine that with the hard-charging rhythms of lots of blues standards, and you’ll be sounding like the basslines from the early Beatles in no time!

Early Beatles: Simple, Basic Chord Tones

Learning the chord tones of a given chord is crucial to play bass like Paul McCartney. That’s because a lot of his early work with the Beatles focused very heavily on the chord tones of a particular song. The chord tones of a given chord are the notes that give the chord its distinctive flavor. They’re usually identified as the root, third, fifth, and sometimes the seventh as well.

Using these chord tones in a song is a great “shorthand” way to communicate which chord the band is playing at any moment. Hearing a chord tone in the bass register immediately frames the rest of the sound around that chord — even if the guitarists play less conventional lines, having a chord tone in the bass will help listeners hear how it all fits together on one chord.

This means that he played the root, third, and fifth of each chord a lot, without a ton of chromativ emphasis on the other notes in the scale.

Later Beatles: Chromaticism

If you listen to albums like Sergeant Pepper’s, Abbey Road, or even Revolver, you’ll notice a stark contrast with the band’s first five or six albums. There are a lot of reasons for that break in the sound — the band stopped touring, and the changing culture of the 1960s provided a fertile ground for more exploration in both sound and lyrics.

However, one of the key factors in the ultimate sound of this transition was Paul McCartney’s growing use of chromaticism. This marked a big shift from the blues-based vocabulary of the band’s earliest albums, and ended up influencing the pace, tone, and rhythm of the Beatles’ last five albums.

In contrast to blues rhythms, which prioritize repetitive playing and faster, swung rhythms, a lot of Paul’s chromatic basslines were more nuanced and incorporated a bit less emphasis on pace. The main impact of this was that the band centered the bass in their songs more than they did at the beginning.

Rather than keeping the bass in the back of the mix, McCartney’s bass riffs began to provide a more complex, dissonant sound that merged well with the other instruments as a prominent factor in the mix.

This marked a big shift away from the bass as a rhythm-keeping instrument. While Paul could still lay down tracks to reinforce Ringo Starr’s drumming, more often the chromatic emphasis gave him the freedom to riff and “solo” on his own. As we’ll discuss a bit more in the next section, this continued to center the bass and raise Paul’s role in the band’s musical process.

For some good examples of chromatic basslines from Paul in the Beatles, check out the riffs he laid down on tracks like “Oh! Darling” and “Something.” These two songs are both off of Abbey Road, the album where Paul provided some of his most melodic playing ever.

Notice how the bassline in each song snakes comfortably through the changes, without as much “driving rhythm” or pulsing repetition as in a lot of the Beatles’ earlier songs. This marks a big change from driving the groove forward to sitting back in the pocket, and taking more of a role in the melody of the song rather than just the beat underneath it.

It’s also good to notice how the bass interacts with the other instruments on these songs. While the lines accent the guitars over top of them, they’re not just “part of the rhythm section” — the riffs Paul is playing are just as present in the mix as the guitars and singing. It’s that focus on melodies and catchy riffs which showcases his chromatic playing.

Using Chromaticism in Your Playing

Incorporating chromatic influences in your playing might seem difficult, particularly if you’re only used to playing within scales like the pentatonic scale or arpeggios. These patterns jump around a lot, making larger leaps between notes and leading to a “spacier,” less chromatic sound.

The modal scales are a good way to start playing chromatically. You’ll need to learn how to use the mixolydian mode, the lydian mode, the phrygian mode, the dorian mode, the harmonic minor, the locrian mode, and far more. Our comprehensive guitar music theory guide is a great walkthrough.

However, at its root chromaticism is very simple: it’s just learning how to play notes next to each other in a given scale, and working between those notes to build interesting riffs and hooks. If you’re skilled at playing chromatically, you open up a lot more options for yourself than playing in the pentatonic scale.

That’s because chromatic scales offer a lot more notes for you to use than pentatonic scales and other similar forms. By weaving these together effectively, you increase the possible options for different lines to create. Add in the varied use of rhythm, and chromatic playing is a great way to spice up the way that you play scales and patterns already on the bass.

For a newer player, it might be helpful to begin by incorporating chromatic influences into scales and patterns that you already know. Try transcribing some of the melodies from Paul’s basslines, and see how he often moves between just one or two notes in the scale at a time.

Then, you can emulate these basslines by moving around one note at a time, and trying to string together smooth, melodic sections of notes. Pay attention to your phrasing and articulation, to make sure that you don’t sound sloppy, or play too slowly. Ultimately, applying this melodic instinct to chromatic structures will get you close to sounding like Paul McCartney.

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Gear

Of course, if you want to get Paul’s tone on the bass, you’ll need to use some his gear! Sir Paul’s legendary Hofner bass is one of the most famous symbols of his career — in fact, he’s done more than any other artist to raise the profile of that model — but throughout his career he’s used more than just the one instrument.

To get all of the sounds that Paul uses, you might need to check out a bass, amps, and even pedals as well. We’ve provided a mix of gear designed to copy Paul’s choices as closely as possible, and make these sounds accessible to players on every budget. Read ahead to find out!

Hofner Violin Bass

As we mentioned above, the Hofner violin bass is far and away Paul McCartney’s most famous piece of equipment. He purchased this axe when the Beatles were playing residencies in Hamburg, mostly because of its symmetrical shape (which he thought looked better for him as a left-handed player).

However, in the years since he first bought that bass, it’s become famous for far more than just its looks. The Hofner violin bass provides a unique warm, woody tone thanks to its hollow body. Among professional bass players and hobbyists alike, the violin bass is popular as a tonally unique instrument — it’s a great “change of pace” axe that can put a unique stamp on a song.

It’s also got a number of ergonomic advantages, as well. Its small frame and short scale length make it a great choice for bassists who want a lighter instrument that’s easier to handle and comfortable to play for long hours at a time. If you play lots of gigs, the difference in weight might be particularly noticeable — over time, a few pounds can add up to a lot of back stress!

The short scale combines with the hollow body to produce a completely unique sound. Short scale basses tend to emphasize the fundamental of any given note, with fewer harmonics and overtones in the sound. This makes them sound “punchier” and more “up front” to many listeners, and helps them sit well in a mix, both in the studio and on stage.

The hollow body of this instrument balances out that punchier attack, by rounding out the edges of the sound and offering woody, resonant response. When played with a pick, it’s a stunning combination of sounds. Paul uses this combination to great effect throughout his career with the Beatles and later as a solo artist.

Rickenbacker Bass (4001/4003)

While he was in the Beatles, Paul also began to experiment with basses beyond the Hofner violin. The Rickenbacker 4003 was a product of this experimentation — Paul received one from the company in 1965, and soon began to use it as his favorite bass on many other songs.

It’s all over Sgt. Pepper’s, and he also enjoyed using the Rickenbacker through parts of Revolver and the White Album. In contrast to the Hofner, the Rickenbacker’s solid body and crisp, clear single-coil pickups provide a tone that’s hard to beat — and very difficult to replicate.

Rickenbacker basses are known for accentuating the top end of their signal range, as well as the high mids and overall clarity. Some players hate this sound design, but many more like to use it in order to add a different weapon to their bass arsenal. And as far as off-color basses go, it’s hard to beat the pedigree and reliability of a Rickenbacker!

Unfortunately, Rickenbacker has no budget models or affordable alternative line. If you want to get Paul’s Rickenbacker tone without spending thousands of dollars, you’ll need to look for an alternative.

The Peavey T40 is a good vintage bass that can mimic the sounds of a Rickenbacker pretty well — while it’s out of production now, you can find them on Reverb, EBay, and Craigslist for affordable prices. They’re some of the most versatile basses ever made, as they can sound like Rickenbacker basses, P-Basses, J-Basses, and even Gibson bass sounds as well!

Of course, you may not be able to find any T40 models at an affordable price near you. The company’s Peavey Milestone bass is another option, or if you want a more consistently available alternative, a Fender or Squier Jazz Bass or Jaguar Bass should do the trick.

These guitars use two single-coil pickups, like Rickenbacker basses. They’re voiced a bit differently than Rickenbacker pickups — but with a bit of experimenting and maybe an EQ pedal handy, you should be able to imitate the sound of a Rickenbacker pretty convincingly with one of these instruments.

Amps & Accessories

Like his basses, Paul has used a wide variety of amps throughout his career; he’s not picky and works with whatever amps are available. However, during his time with the Beatles he was fond of two main types of bass amps: Vox amps (like their AC4 guitar amp) and Fender bass heads.

Vox amps tend to emphasize the midrange and trebles more (a “British” voicing), with plenty of saturation at higher levels of gain and more “chime,” “jangle,” and “sparkle.” American amps retain some of that brightness, but are voiced to be a bit warmer and smoother than their British counterparts.

If you’re on a budget, any bass amp from either of these companies will work well. The Vox Mini SuperBeetle is a Beatles-inspired mini amp, and Vox’s bass version is just as good as the guitar models. These amps are built with Vox’s “NuTube” technology, which uses tubes along with solid-state tech for a boutique sound at a bargain price.

The Mini SuperBeetle Bass does a great job of giving you classic Vox bass tones, without breaking the bank. It doesn’t have a lot of extra features or frills in the control set, but at this price it’s hard to hold that against the team at Vox. Also, it looks absolutely fantastic! It’s an amp that you might want to plug in at your living room and just show it off, without even playing it!

As far as Fender amps go, a blackface or silverface Fender will work best. Whether you get a vintage model or a modern reissue, these amps are built to imitate the sounds that McCartney got out of his bass amps as precisely as possible.

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend, check out one of the amps from Fender’s Rumble series. These amplifiers are affordable, but sound very good for their price. Because they’re so cheap, it also makes them perfect for new and young players. They’re a great way to save money without compromising on tone and sound.

Conclusion

Sir Paul McCartney is one of the most revered bass players of all time. It can be difficult to play like him, for obvious reasons: his songwriting genius, his multiple stylistic changes throughout his career, and his unique gigging experience, to name a few. However, there are certainly a few key concepts that you can take away from his playing.

Studying these concepts and techniques will help you improve on the bass, and sound more like Paul McCartney as you do it. Make sure to check out some of his gear as well, in order to get the perfect sound from records like Abbey Road to Band on the Run. Happy playing!

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Download McCartney’s and The Beatles’ sheet music books from our Library, or play along with them and the best rock bands.

Read the full article published by Beginner Guitar HQ here.
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Best Classical Music

A Spanish Portrait: Llobet, Tárrega, Granados, Albeniz

A Spanish Portrait: Llobet, Tárrega, Granados, Albeniz

a spanish portrait sheet music descargar partituta
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Composer: Enrique Granados, Francisco Tárrega, Isaac Albéniz

Artists: Luigi Attademo historical Torres guitar

A musical portrait of a master guitar-maker of the 19th century. Great instruments have always been associated with great musicians, and this is true in the guitar world too, at least from the early 19th century onwards. Early in his career, Antonio de Torres (1817-1892), like other luthiers before him, found a performer ideally suited to his instruments – the young Andalusian guitarist Julián Arcas. The technical innovations in construction and timbre pioneered by Torres enabled Arcas to give full expression to his artistry in works such as the florid Fantasía sobre El paño o sea Punto de La Habana with which Luigi Attademo opens this new studio album.

Tracklist:

00:00:00​ Fantasía sobre el paño o sea punto de la Habana 00:05:23​ El delirio 00:09:46​ Adelita in E Minor 00:11:11​ Sueño 00:12:47​ Mazurka en sol 00:15:13​ Marieta 00:17:13​ Danza española No. 5 “Andaluza” 00:22:06​ Preludio No. 5 in E Major

00:23:43​ Preludio No. 2 in A Minor 00:25:46​ Preludio No. 1 in D Minor 00:27:10​ Endecha y oremus 00:28:11​ Leyenda 00:36:02​ 12 Piezas características, Op. 92: XII. Torre bermeja, serenata 00:40:49​ Cançó del lladre 00:42:20​ El testament d’Amelia in D Minor 00:44:06​ Lo fill del rei 00:45:47​ Plany 00:47:45​ Variaciones sobre un tema de Sor

Music of Spain

The music of Spain has a long history. It has played an important role in the development of Western music, and has greatly influenced Latin American music. Spanish music is often associated with traditional styles such as flamenco and classical guitar. While these forms of music are common, there are many different traditional musical and dance styles across the regions.

For example, music from the north-west regions is heavily reliant on bagpipes, the jota is widespread in the centre and north of the country, and flamenco originated in the south. Spanish music played a notable part in the early developments of western classical music, from the 15th through the early 17th century. The breadth of musical innovation can be seen in composers like Tomás Luis de Victoria, styles like the zarzuela of Spanish opera, the ballet of Manuel de Falla, and the classical guitar music of Francisco Tárrega. Nowadays commercial pop music dominates.

Origins of the music of Spain

Musical instruments in the Diocesan Museum of Albarracín.

The Iberian peninsula has had a history of receiving different musical influences from around the Mediterranean Sea and across Europe. In the two centuries before the Christian era, Roman rule brought with it the music and ideas of Ancient Greece; early Christians, who had their own differing versions of church music arrived during the height of the Roman Empire; the Visigoths, a Romanized Germanic people, who took control of the peninsula following the fall of the Roman Empire; the Moors and Jews in the Middle Ages. Hence, there have been more than two thousand years of internal and external influences and developments that have produced a large number of unique musical traditions.

Medieval period

Cantigas de Santa maría, medieval Spain

Isidore of Seville wrote about the local music in the 6th century. His influences were predominantly Greek, and yet he was an original thinker, and recorded some of the first details about the early music of the Christian church. He perhaps is most famous in musical history for declaring that it was not possible to notate sounds, an assertion which revealed his ignorance of the notational system of ancient Greece, suggesting that this knowledge had been lost with the fall of the Roman Empire in the west.

Codex Las Huelgas, a medieval Spanish music manuscript, circa 1300 AD.

The Moors of Al-Andalus were usually relatively tolerant of Christianity and Judaism, especially during the first three centuries of their long presence in the Iberian peninsula, during which Christian and Jewish music continued to flourish. Music notation was developed in Spain as early as the 8th century (the so-called Visigothic neumes) to notate the chant and other sacred music of the Christian church, but this obscure notation has not yet been deciphered by scholars, and exists only in small fragments.

The music of the early medieval Christian church in Spain is known, misleadingly, as the “Mozarabic Chant“, which developed in isolation prior to the Islamic invasion and was not subject to the Papacy’s enforcement of the Gregorian chant as the standard around the time of Charlemagne, by which time the Muslim armies had conquered most of the Iberian peninsula.

As the Christian reconquista progressed, these chants were almost entirely replaced by the Gregorian standard, once Rome had regained control of the Iberian churches. The style of Spanish popular songs of the time is presumed to have been heavily influenced by the music of the Moors, especially in the south, but as much of the country still spoke various Latin dialects while under Moorish rule (known today as the Mozarabic) earlier musical folk styles from the pre-Islamic period continued in the countryside where most of the population lived, in the same way as the Mozarabic Chant continued to flourish in the churches.

In the royal Christian courts of the reconquistors, music like the Cantigas de Santa Maria, also reflected Moorish influences. Other important medieval sources include the Codex Calixtinus collection from Santiago de Compostela and the Codex Las Huelgas from Burgos. The so-called Llibre Vermell de Montserrat (red book) is an important devotional collection from the 14th century.[citation needed]

Renaissance and Baroque periods

Orpheus playing the vihuela. Frontispiece from the famous work El maestro by Luis de Milán, 1536.

In the early Renaissance, Mateo Flecha el Viejo and the Castilian dramatist Juan del Encina ranked among the main composers in the post-Ars Nova period. Renaissance song books included the Cancionero de Palacio, the Cancionero de Medinaceli, the Cancionero de Upsala (kept in Carolina Rediviva library), the Cancionero de la Colombina, and the later Cancionero de la Sablonara. The organist Antonio de Cabezón stands out for his keyboard compositions and mastery.

An early 16th-century polyphonic vocal style developed in Spain was closely related to that of the Franco-Flemish composers. Merging of these styles occurred during the period when the Holy Roman Empire and the Burgundy were part of the dominions under Charles I (king of Spain from 1516 to 1556), since composers from the North of Europe visited Spain, and native Spaniards traveled within the empire, which extended to the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.

Music composed for the vihuela by Luis de Milán, Alonso Mudarra and Luis de Narváez was one of the main achievements of the period. The Aragonese Gaspar Sanz authored the first learning method for guitar. Spanish composers of the Renaissance included Francisco Guerrero, Cristóbal de Morales, and Tomás Luis de Victoria (late Renaissance period), all of whom spent a significant portion of their careers in Rome. The latter was said to have reached a level of polyphonic perfection and expressive intensity equal or even superior to Palestrina and Lassus[citation needed]. Most Spanish composers returned home from travels abroad late in their careers to spread their musical knowledge in their native land, or in the late 16th century to serve at the Court of Philip II.

18th to 20th centuries
a spanish portrait

By the end of the 17th century the “classical” musical culture of Spain was in decline, and was to remain that way until the 19th century. Classicism in Spain, when it arrived, was inspired by Italian models, as in the works of Antonio Soler. Some outstanding Italian composers such as Domenico Scarlatti and Luigi Boccherini were appointed to the Madrid royal court. The short-lived Juan Crisóstomo Arriaga is credited as the main beginner of Romantic sinfonism in Spain.[citation needed]

Massiel She won the Eurovision Song Contest 1968 with the song “La, la, la“, beating the British pop singer Cliff Richard‘s “Congratulations“.

Although symphonic music was never too important in Spain, chamber, solo instrumental (mainly guitar and piano) vocal and opera (both traditional opera, and the Spanish version of the singspiel) music was written by local composers. Zarzuela, a native form of opera that includes spoken dialogue, is a secular musical genre which developed in the mid-17th century, flourishing most importantly in the century after 1850.

Francisco Asenjo Barbieri was a key figure in the development of the romantic zarzuela; whilst later composers such as Ruperto Chapí, Federico Chueca and Tomás Bretón brought the genre to its late 19th-century apogee. Leading 20th-century zarzuela composers included Pablo Sorozábal and Federico Moreno Torroba.

Fernando Sor, Dionisio Aguado, Francisco Tárrega and Miguel Llobet are known as composers of guitar music. Fine literature for violin was created by Pablo Sarasate and Jesús de Monasterio.

Musical creativity mainly moved into areas of popular music until the nationalist revival of the late Romantic era. Spanish composers of this period included Felipe Pedrell, Isaac Albéniz, Enrique Granados, Joaquín Turina, Manuel de Falla, Jesús Guridi, Ernesto Halffter, Federico Mompou, Salvador Bacarisse, and Joaquín Rodrigo.