Musical Scales – Agustin Barrios Mangore

This post shines a little light onto Agustin Barrios Mangore’s approach to teaching and fingering musical scales.


Scales, considered the bane of most music students lives, are the vehicle that effectively bridge the gap between technique and performing. So is it possible to make them musical? I think so, and so did Barrios. Following on from the CGRocks review of El Inalcanzable later this month and forming part of a series here at Classical Guitar Rocks -Scales Made Musical. I have extracted Barrios’ scale patterns and fingerings from one of his students log books and added 2 selected musical examples to highlight his use of them. It is worth pointing out Barrios is one of the few popular 20th century guitar/composers who left behind pedagogical information. So when playing through these scales keep in mind Barrios was not only writing these out for his students to practice technique but also to be utilised for compositional purposes.

It is interesting to note that Barrios extended his two octave pattern up to the fifth and also conceived them in interlocking patterns, much like modern electric guitarists do today with their use of the CAGED system. If you are unsure as to what the this system is about you can’t go wrong with purchasing Bill Edward’s Fretboard Logic book.


Technique Note:

The fingering choices utilized by Barrios to get around the scales are not the easiest or most idiomatic. He must have had a great ability to shift as 4 or 5 notes on one string seem to be a regular feature of his pathway through these scales. These might, at first, cause some difficulty when practicing however the perseverance will be well worth it. Shifting effectively is a core skill for any classical guitarist.

Major Scale

C Major Scale

C Major Scale

Harmonic Minor Scale

A Minor Scale

A Minor Scale



Free Download of the Barrios’s Scale Matrix and 2 musical extracts.





Classical guitarist who strives to share a little #6stringinspiration.

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