Romance is also known as Spanish Ballad, Romanza Espanol,
Spanish Romance, Romance Anonimo, Romanza, Romance d’amour, and Jeux Interdits. Nobody really
knows who composed this piece but it’s now believed by some to be a pre Spanish Inquisition
Jewish song. The Sephardic Jews had been in the Iberian Peninsular (Spain and Portugal) since
biblical times. Throughout their history they were persecuted in one form or another and this
reflects in their melancholic songs and melodies. During the Moorish occupation (711 – 1492) they lived in
relative harmony with the Moslems. But when the Christians finally captured the Alhambra in
1492, both Moors and Jews were asked to kindly leave, so they did. This put an end to an era
which could hardly be called romantic. But love and romance always finds a way to exist and get
immortalised in song.
Strange beliefs about this melody.
It’s interesting to read some of the comments on my
‘Ragtime Romance‘ and ‘Tremolo Romance‘ You tube video pages.
Here are some examples.
“U guys forgot to say that this song is from a Brazilian
player called Waldyr Azevedo. Name of the tune: Abismo de Rosas”
“using tremolo in Gomez’s Romance….very original
“The composer of romance (Jeux interdits) is unknown. What
makes you think its by Gomez? If you are referring to William Gomez, He does perform this
piece but he is not the composer. The composer is unknown.”
isn’t this “Romanza” by “edward elgar” ???? the original
version is not tremoloed…. but nice playing man!
“One fellow wrote to me and insisted that Romance was
composed by Narciso Yepes and was French in origin. Narciso Yepes plays this music in the
1952 movie “Jeux Interdits”, but if you have a good look at the credits, you will see that
Romance is credited as “Traditional: arranged – Narciso Yepes.”
I used Romance to develop technique
Romance is one of those pieces that
will never die. The first part in A minor is relatively easy to learn but it still has some
nasty stretches to master. The second section is a real bugger and classical guitar
lessons are strongly advised to get that right. The arpeggio style is common in
classical guitar pieces as is the tremolo and block chords.
I still remember many moons ago when I started playing the
guitar. I taught myself to read music and I had not taken any real classical guitar
lessons (around 1973). I shared the rent and a hippy lifestyle with a bunch of other
young people and we had a great time doing drugs, getting drunk and other silly things I
wouldn’t dream of doing now. But often they wanted to sleep when I felt like practicing my
guitar. So I would take my guitar to the Bondi Rocks and played all night to the sea and surf.
I only knew a few Carcassi and Sor pieces at the time as well as Romance. I
would dream up different ways to play it and this made technical practice a pleasure. I played
it in many different arpeggio styles as well as various tremolo and block chord styles.
When I started taking serious classical guitar
lessons I learned new ways to play it. It has been said that this is the easiest
classical piece to learn but the hardest to master. When I started playing in restaurants I
never considered including Romance in my repertoire. I thought nobody wanted
to hear it because it was such a simple, well known tune like Greensleves. But I was wrong. I
played it once after I had run out of the fancy stuff and the response was amazing. It got the
first applause of the whole night at the end of the night. I realized then that I had played it
so much I was actually deaf to the music because I was so hung up with playing with technique
always in my mind. I learned to loosen up after that and enjoy my own music. That was a real
revelation to me. I could ‘t hear the bloody music. I have since learned to not only hear it
but also feel it.
If you really want to enjoy the music you play, I have two bits
of advice. Firstly, get the technique right from the start by taking some classical
guitar lessons from a good teacher. The whole thing about technique is to get to know
it so well that you can later forget it when you play music. Secondly, split your practice time
into two sections. For the first half of your practice time focus on careful technical training
and then loosen up and just play without thinking about technique. Let your brain forget the
details and treat this playing time as a meditation where you train yourself to feel