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Romantic Guitar: Can You Feel the Love?

By Guitar Tips

It has been said that music is the universal language of love. Regardless of your background, most of us can relate to music as a sensual art. In this article we will take a look at translating emotion into a beautiful song using a few simple techniques.

First off, throw your speedy hands out the window. Technique is a fantastic thing for every guitarist to master, and you will be using it for playing this style of music. However, some of the most thought provoking music comes from slow and deliberate notes. Moving around your fretboard at lightning speed won't get you the sound you are looking for.

You might be surprised to read that playing music at a slower tempo (speed) can be harder than fast, technical riffs. Why would slower music be harder? This is where the art aspect of romantic music comes in... you feel it. When you're playing notes slowly, you hear the tone with clarity and notice if the musician is sincere with what he or she is playing.






The first thing you can do to work on your tone, is to brush up on some important techniques. For starters, you want to master the vibrato technique. Take your finger and place it on any fret you wish. Then pluck the string and shake it! Yes I said shake it (your finger that is.) If you played the technique correctly, it should make the note "wobble." In its purest form, vibrato gives the impression of your guitar singing. Vocalists do the same thing with their voices on long tones.

Your guitar's purpose is going to change when you play romantic guitar. Usually, the guitar's function is to set a rhythm and lay down a lead to enhance the vocals of the song. Now your guitar is the vocalist. See the difference? Your guitar will become the melody of the song and tell the listener a story. The guitar shifts from supporting the vocals to being the star of the show.


A great way to hear this is to listen to vocalists such as Andre Bocelli and Josh Groban. They use their voices to evoke emotion from their audience and you want to have the same affect with your guitar. Listen to the similarities between their voices and your guitar.

For instance, your guitar can use dynamic swells (gradually get louder or softer). You can slide to various notes, they can slur notes together. They can sing short and detached (staccato) and you can play notes short and detached. The list goes on.

Here are the basic techniques you will need to transform your guitar into a soloist:

-  Vibrato
-  Hammer On's / Pull Off's
-  Slides
-  Bends
-  Trills
-  Melodic Phrasing






Melodic Phrasing:   The word melody means "notes that form a distinct tune." Vocalists always sing the melody. Now that you have taken their place, your guitar plays the melody. Phrasing refers to the sequencing of the notes and how they are put together. This includes the rhythm, length of the note, and the specific note that you choose to play.

The melody and phrasing go hand in hand. Unless you are reading a piece of music that tells you to play the music with a certain phrasing, you will have to decide what the melody will sound like and how you will put it together.

With romantic and sensual music, this starts with choosing a key. The more sharps or flats in the key, the richer your music will sound. That's not a musical fact but something I have learned from personal experience. Luckily for us, the number of sharps or flats doesn't really matter because we don't have to alter our fingerings like a saxophone player might need to do.
After you have chosen a key, you want to think about how you want the music to sound. Play around with the notes found in that key and utilize your fretboard. This is where knowing all of the notes on your fretboard off by heart really comes into play.

Experiment with different phrasings and try not to sound like a guitar. If you want to serenade that special someone, you want the guitar to sing to them. The best way to learn how to do this is to hum the notes as you play them.

Believe me, this is embarrassing and shouldn't be practiced around any life forms unless you are a natural. All joking aside, it really works. You begin to think like a singer and that comes out in your guitar.

Here is an example for you to try. Listen and you'll hear how easily words could fit into the melody if someone was singing it.



There are some beautiful chords you can create using some basic principals. First off, I reiterate the fact that you will not be able to master smooth "romantic" style guitar until you know the notes on your fretboard. The reason why is due to the theory needed to write good music.

Using a basic minor 7 chord, you can create the following chords: 9, 11, and 13. These chords sound great regardless of whether you use the major or minor shapes. For the purpose of simplicity, we won't be diving into the theory behind these chords in this lesson. However, all of the chords and chord shapes can be found by going to the following sites:

Let's examine some of the chords we will be working with in this lesson:

Images courtesy of

....minor7b5 ...................minor7



...Keep in mind, all of the above are chord shapes. That means that the chord can be moved anywhere on the fretboard. The new root note names the chord (the root note is the note on the A string in the above cases).

With that in mind, you want to tweak your amp to give you a beautiful full jazz-like tone. Here are some settings for you to consider trying:

...Listen to this sound example using the progression Emin7b5, Ebmin7, Dmin7b5, Dbmin7.

It gives you an idea of the soulful feel you can get with these types of chords. Mind you, this progression follows a chromatic backbone. The more sharps and flats you add to a chord, the more colourful it becomes (in most cases).

They are extremely jazzy chords but don't let the long name intimidate you. They are just relatively simple chord shapes. The order of notes makes the name complex. I play the roots of the above chord progression on the 7th, 6th, 5th and 4th frets of the A string respectively. The complex chords offer a bright, less monotonous version of romantic music.

If you learn nothing else from this lesson, remember that "romantic" music is best when kept simple. Even the best Spanish players, known for their romantic flair, don't feel the need to play with lightning fast hands unless absolutely necessary for the music. Sometimes you'll find it useful, but unless you have the technique, playing your guitar slowly and with emotion will evoke the best response from your listening audience.




Written by Guitar Tips:If you've always wanted to learn to play the guitar but never had the chance, give me 17 minutes a day for 90 days and I'll show you how to play virtually any song you want! Visit



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