The Secrets of Learning the Fretboard

Song Construction

In this lesson, you’ll learn how to construct the song, Romance Anonimo.  It is a beginner fingerstyle song that is great for demonstrating how you can construct a fingerstyle song from a simple melody into a harmonized solo arrangement.  I will break it down into three parts so you can use a similar method to create your own songs and arrangements.

Melody (high strings)

The guitar is a great instrument for playing melodies, harmonies, and even bass lines.  For Romance Anonimo, we will only use the 1st string for the melody.  It is common to use strings 1 – 3 for melodies.  Usually, the melody is the highest pitch played at any time.  This is a good guideline to start this process.

If you’re writing your own song, or arranging one that you know, I recommend that you start here.  I like to do this with Christmas songs.

Romance Anonimo Melody

Romance Anonimo Melody

Harmony (middle strings)

Fingerstyle songs use harmony to add depth to the song.  I like to use triads, or three note chords, to create some great harmonies.  Often, strings 2-4 are used for harmony.  The bass notes on the 5th and 6th string also play a role in the harmony, but we’ll talk more about them in their own section.

In Romance Anonimo, the 2nd and 3rd strings are used for harmony.  When combined with the melody on the first string, it creates a triad.  It also uses open strings, which can be allowed to ring.  In addition to sounding fuller, open strings make the song easier to play.

Some guitarists use alternate tunings to harmonize with open strings.  This is a great way to try some popular alternate tunings, such as DADGAD.

Romance Anonimo Harmony

Bass (low strings)

Strings 5-6 are used as bass strings.  Often, they play the root and keep the rhythm of the song.  You can use them as part of the harmony.  You may omit doubling the same note on higher-pitched strings even if it is an octave higher.

Often, the bass line gives a feeling of movement or stability to a song.  In Romance Anonimo, open strings are played often.  I feel like they give stability until the end when the lowest note moves more throughout the measures.  Listen for this in the examples below.

Romance Anonimo

Romance Anonimo

About Patrick MacFarlane 127 Articles
I've been teaching guitar online for 25 years. My site has been featured in Rolling Stone and Acoustic Guitar magazine. I'm the author of The Secrets of Learning the Fretboard and Guitar Lesson World The Book.

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