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Romance (Romanza): Classical Guitar Arrangement in Guitar Tab and Standard Notation

Updated on June 6, 2017
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Chasmac is a semi-retired guitar teacher who has taught in various schools in London and elsewhere for over 30 years.

Romance in Standard Notation and Guitar Tab
Romance in Standard Notation and Guitar Tab | Source

Romance, also called Romanza, Romance d'Amour and Jeux Interdits (forbidden games), is probably the best known and most popular classical guitar piece among the general public. The composer is unknown, but it's believed to have been written towards the end of the 19th century. The earliest known recording of it is from 1900.

It gained popularity after it was used as the theme tune to the 1950s French movie: Jeux Interdits. Many people (especially in France) know the piece only by this name.

Romance (Romanza)

Romance - Classical Guitar Arrangement
Romance - Classical Guitar Arrangement | Source

Download Romance PDF file

Click to open Romance as a free PDF file for offline viewing or printing.

Listen to Romance

Here's a version by the late, great classical guitar virtuoso, Narciso Yepes played on his custom-built 10 string classical guitar. The tuning of the first 6 strings are the standard guitar tuning of EADGBE so you can see how he uses his fingers, although there are a couple of slight differences from the score. Some controversy surrounds this piece as Yepes claims to have composed it as a child. Most authorities don't accept that and claim it existed before he was born, and that it is of anonymous origin, as the title of this Youtube video states.

Study Notes for Learners

Romance is in ternary form; that is, it has two sections, A & B, each of which is repeated. Then section A finishes it off - so the plan is:

  • A A B B A

Section A is in the key of E minor; section B is in E major.

Classical guitar fingering diagram
Classical guitar fingering diagram | Source


Picking Hand

The picking-hand fingering isn't shown as it's obvious and extremely simple in this piece. Your thumb (p in classical finger labeling) plays all bass notes - i.e., the low notes with downward pointing note stems. There's mostly just one bass note per bar. The i - m - a fingers also have it easy as it's simply a case of using one finger per string - i.e., your 'a' finger on string 1 followed by your 'm' finger on string 2 and your 'i' finger on string 3. See the fingering diagram if you're not sure what p, i, m and a mean. As it's an arpeggio, let the notes ring out.

Bring out the melody with Rest Stroke

It's very common (and recommended) to play the melody notes using rest stroke on the 1st string. Rest stroke in this piece involves plucking the 1st string with your 'a' finger in such a way that it comes to rest on the string above (string 2 in this case). It's a more forceful stroke than the normal 'free stroke', so it's slightly louder and fuller in tone. This has the effect of emphasising the melody above the inner arpeggio notes on strings 2 and 3.

Fretting Hand

The fretting hand has a lot more work to do, and the greatest difficulty lies in the stretches that you need to do in order to reach some of the high melody notes while holding barré chords - not so easy but attainable with practice and perseverance.

The fretboard positions requiring your first finger to be played as fulll barré chords, i.e., across all the strings (or half-way across in some half-barré instances), are shown by Roman numerals - another classical guitar convention.

Note that for some of the 5th fret barré chords, you can opt to use a half-barré and play the low A bass note on the open 5th string if you prefer. It depends on your hand size and shape as to which option is better for you.

Metre and Rhythm

The metre is three beats per bar. The time signature is 'three-four' and a triplet rhythm is used throughout the whole piece for the arpeggio patterns. Triplets are three notes in the time of two, so there are nine (triplet) 8th notes per bar instead of six that would occur in a normal bar in three-four time if filled with 8th notes.

Chord Tones
Key of E MINOR (A section)
E minor
A minor
B 7
B D# F# A
Key of E MAJOR (B section)
E major
E G# B
A major
A C# E
B D# F# A
G# minor
G# B D#
Mediant (incomplete dominant)
D# diminished
D# F# A
Leading note
Chords and chord tones of Romance

Key and Chords used in Romance

A section

The key of the A section is E minor. The chords are E minor, which is the tonic or home chord, B7, which is the dominant chord that leads home to the tonic, and A minor, the subdominant chord, which leads to the dominant chord.

B section

The key is E major for this section. The plan is much the same, but the home or tonic chord is now E major, the subdominant is now A major instead of A minor but the dominant chord is still B7. There two extra chords in this section. D# diminished (as used in bars 19-20) contains the notes D# F# and A and is simply an incomplete dominant chord, B7, which consists of B D# F# A.

G# minor occurs in bars 29. It's called the mediant chord because, as it's built on scale degree 3, it lies midway between the tonic chord on scale degree 1 and the dominant chord on scale degree 5. In this context, however, it's actually better seen as the dominant chord but with the note G# temporarily displacing the B7 chord tone F# (which comes along to replace it a moment later).

© 2014 chasmac


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