In this lesson, Jeff Peterson walks you through his fingerstyle arrangement of Malagueña, a very famous piece from the Spanish tradition. Jeff provides some tips on how to play this fun piece and how to practice the techniques required, like rasgueado. And if you feel inspired, you can even create your own variations of Malagueña!

Before you begin, be sure to download the sheet music here:

Download the Malagueña Sheet Music

History of Malagueña

From folklore to cante libre

While most credit the Cuban composer and pianist Ernesto Lecuona as the composer of the song Malagueña, its history is more complex. Malagueña belongs to the Spanish musical folklore tradition. Originally it grew out of the “fandango.” The fandango was a fast rhythmic dance from the region of Málaga.

In the 19th century malagueña evolved into a much freer song called “cante libre.” The cante libre was not a dance, but had a rich, ornamented vocal line with a single guitar as the accompaniment.

During the latter half of the 19th century, the malagueña evolved into the more traditional flamenco form we know today. This happened primarily through Zarzuelas and other popular musical genres of the nineteenth century.

A wonderful example of this early form of the malagueña is the music of Antonio Chacón:

Ernesto Lecuona

However, the malagueña that most of us know comes from a different source. Ernesto Lecuona was a Cuban composer and pianist known especially for his virtuosity on the piano. He visited Spain early in his life and became a Zarzuela composer, along with writing many traditional Afro-Cuban songs. He was called the “Gershwin of Cuba” and was also friends with Maurice Ravel.

However, he is perhaps best known for his song “Malagueña,” which is the sixth movement of his suite Andalucia. The suite was written in 1933 and had instant success. Today, it is Lecuona’s version of Malagueña that most know and is the source for many others’ malagueñas. Jeff’s arrangement is based on Lecuona’s malagueña.


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