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Por Una Cabeza violin sheet music will help you learn this iconic tango.

Por Una Cabeza is a famous tune that’s appeared in movies and pop culture everywhere. Today, I’m sharing with you my tutorial for this iconic song along with my best tips to help you learn it.

First, you can listen to this tango here:

My arrangement is at the intermediate level. I’d say this song is a good fit for beginners who’ve been playing for a while.

Por Una Cabeza Background

Por Una Cabeza is a very famous tango song. The music was written in 1935 by Carlos Gardel, with lyrics written by Alfredo Le Pera.

Tango is a type of dance that originated in Argentina in the late 19th century. The dance is performed with a partner, and the music is always very passionate.

Por Una Cabeza Sheet Music

Due to copyright, I cannot directly share the digital sheet music that I used in my tutorial video. You can, however, use the piano accompaniment video to read the sheet music, or you can purchase it through the link in the video’s description.

Por Una Cabeza Warm Ups

This arrangement of Por Una Cabeza for violin is in the key of G Major, with some parts in B flat Major. To prepare to play the song, try practicing both the G and B flat Major scales and arpeggios. I’ve even included bonus exercises in the booklet!

Violin Scales - G Major Scales Arpeggios Exercises

G Major Scales, Arpeggios
and Bonus Exercises

PDF

Bb Major Scales & Arpeggios

B♭ Major Scales, Arpeggios
and a Bonus Exercise

PDF

This song also goes up to the third and fifth positions. You may want to review playing in those positions before trying Por Una Cabeza. I’m also including a poster with all the notes on the violin fingerboard for you to download below!

All Violin Notes - Poster Thumbnail

Download Poster with All
Violin Notes on the Fingerboard

High-quality poster

PDF

Por Una Cabeza Tutorial

Watch my video here for an in-depth tutorial and practice session for Por Una Cabeza. You can also keep reading to learn more about how to play the tango song.

Chromatic fingerings

There are many times in music when we play chromatic notes: pitches that are just a half step away. This means we sometimes need to slide a finger from low to high (or vice-versa) to play a passage.

Por Una Cabeza tango Violin Sheet Music and Tutorial - score example - chromatic scale

Right away in the first measure, we see B, C natural, C sharp, and D, all in a row. To play this, we’ll use the first finger, low 2, then slide up to high 2, then the third finger.

Try coordinating your left-hand finger slide with the bow change to disguise the sliding sound.

Shifting

We use the first position, third position, and fifth position throughout this song. If it’s been a while since you’ve played in either of these higher positions, you may want to review some easier exercises.

Practice each shift slowly, until you feel you can reach the correct note, in tune, each and every time you play the passage.

Watch the tutorial to hear me really talk through each section and fingering in detail. Follow along with your sheet music so you can write in any reminders you may need!

violin shifting - All Violin Positions

Vibrato

A passionate tango like this just asks for vibrato! Using lots of vibrato on long notes will add sweetness and yearning to the music. Vibrato is especially meaningful in the accented, loud sections.

If you’re struggling to learn vibrato, or would just like more practice with it, check out my course, Unlock Your Vibrato!

Playing with the Piano Accompaniment

There’s a lovely recording a pianist made of the accompaniment for Por Una Cabeza. If you choose to play along with the recording, you’ll want to know how the two parts fit together.

Listen to the piano to know when to start, and count to be sure you’re correct.

Practice singing/speaking the rhythm with a metronome to get it really ingrained in your mind, so it’ll feel a bit easier when you’re actually playing it on your violin.

Style and Expression

For this song, you don’t need to strive for a perfect, classical style. This is tango music: you can add in a few slides and bend rhythms to add to your expression. Play around a bit with the music and see how you like it to sound.

Por Una Cabeza tango Violin Sheet Music and Tutorial

Telling a story through the music

What would you like to convey? Does this song sound like doing chores, or is it much more complex?

I created a story of my own while practicing the song: I go on a picnic with my love, and we’re having a great time until he leaves. I’m overcome with sadness because my love left for good. Finally, at the end of the song, I have renewed hope.

For me, creating a storyline for the music I’m playing helps me convey the emotions better. I’m basically creating a movie in my head, and I’m providing the soundtrack for it.

If you’re having trouble deciding what you’d like to convey, read the lyrics. What do they tell you?

Final Note

Advanced Violin Exercises - Julia approves

If you’re interested in more in-depth violin tutorials, be sure to check out my free Video Lesson library or become a student of Julia’s Violin Academy, my school for adult violin beginners. There, I provide courses, tools, and resources you need to improve your violin playing quickly.

Are you excited to learn this great song on the violin? Will you try playing it with the piano accompaniment? Let me know in a comment!

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