How to Play a Hinge Barre on Classical Guitar

Classical guitar music often has many musical parts. A piece may include a bass, a melody and accompaniment.

And with these different parts playing at the same time, we may find it difficult to get to all the notes.

One of the techniques created to deal with such a problem is the hinge bar.

What is a Hinge Bar in Classical Guitar Music?

In a hinge bar (or hinge barre), we play a note with a the base of our index finger. This usually happens in preparation for a regular barre chord.

The hinge-barred note is often on the first string, but it could be any string.

We play this note with index finger between the second and third joint. Because this part of the finger is fleshy and soft, we may have to press down harder on the string. Or we can use the side of the finger, if the situation allows.

The hinge barre technique on classical guitar can be tricky at first. But with a little practice, it becomes more agreeable. Like any note, appropriate placement and pressure will let it ring clearly.

The Benefit of a Hinge Bar

Hinge barres allow us to connect notes, usually in the melody. Connected (legato) notes make the music sound more flowing and effortless. This helps to make the piece more beautiful.

A hinge bar can also allow us to keep a bass note ringing while the melody plays on a lower fret. The opposite could also be the case.

The Hinge Bar in Musical Notation

The hinge bar in musical notation is usually represented by an upper-case H, followed by the fret number in Roman numerals. This is written above the note.

So a hinge bar on the fifth fret would be HV. Likewise, a hinge bar on the third would be written HIII.

Not every occurance of a hinge is notated. So in some pieces we have to decide that the hinge is the best option. This takes experimentation and problem-solving exploration.

Allen Mathews

Hi, I’m Allen Mathews. 

I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
Click here for a sample formula.

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