Martin O N - Progress Journal

So I’ve found my track to listen to for learning Romanza (YouTube link below). Bonus - it also includes a full lesson on how to play the piece and a link to a good free score (notation and tab). The guys at Classical Guitar Corner are amazing if anyone ever fancies exploring classical.

The lesson has also give me some better perspective on the piece - it’s actually quite difficult (especially the second part in major). I’m going to aim for what I heard once described as minimum-viable-piano (but on guitar obviously) and just focus on learning the first part (minor), the melody to the second part (major), and if I can get there, the bass note to go with the melody in the second part.

I’m also finding that my ancillary exploration of the Em and E scales across just the 1st string is really interesting, especially when taking the approach of (i) play a bar or two of chord (in whatever CAGED shape seems best); (ii) play a bar or two of melody on the relevant scale in quarter notes. Really ties the harmony and melody elements together in my ear and is much more challenging to do cleanly than it might sound.

Anyhow, off to work: happy guitaring everybody!

(PS If anybody who stops by here is also running a progress journal / learning log, please let me know as I’d be interested to see what you are getting up to).

Just drop in here and pick at random, loads to choose from :sunglasses:



Here’s my end of week on Romanza (Spanish Romance) practice. Plenty of progress - plenty of distance left to go.

1st (minor) section needs some technical work (particularly the section before, after and during the B bar chord) and lots more recall work. This morning’s recording was essentially ‘cold’ without having warmed up or played through so for that I’m happy with where we’ve got to over the week.

The 2nd (major) section is a work in progress. I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t take my own advice earlier in the week and work out a minimum-viable-version; instead of getting sucked into learning all the notes (which I didn’t have time for this week). Worth reflecting on that.

I did at least do one bit of homework that I set for myself, harmonic analysis. The minor section is in Em and is essentially: i - iv - V - i - V7 - i.
Like a pop song :slight_smile:

The major section is in Emaj and is: I - ii - V - I - IV - I - V7 - I.
Like a slightly jazzy pop song :slight_smile:

I didn’t spend as much time as I’d have liked on the scale aspect but I do at least remember that Emaj has 4 sharps (C,D,F,G).

I’m happy that the practice I did on the electric translated to classical pretty well. Loads of space for further musical development on the classical (phrasing, energy etc) but I think the approach allowed my hands to learn the movements well enough that I would be able to develop this further on classical without making that old left index finger injury worse.

I’ve really enjoyed learning this piece and it’s reminded me both why I love learning classical music and why I moved away from it. I might try to revisit this periodically (practising the spots that are difficult) to see if I can clean it up and put a performance piece together. Would be a good one to have under the fingers, and I really do like the less famous (harder to play) major section.

Anyhow, that’s enough reflecting for this one; on to the next project!

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Week 3 (March 11th on): I’m going to revisit a song I’ve always loved: Old Love (Clapton). I had more or less learned the rhythm part about a year ago but didn’t practice it much so need to refresh that. I’ve never tried to sing it so that’s this week’s main focus, along with transcribing the vocal melody on guitar.

As far as I know it’s essentially all in Am (mostly pentatonic) so my more technical practice will be trying to learn to sing the scale and connecting vocal with guitar. I’ll use some version of the “rhythm - fill - rhythm - fill” approach that Eric Haugen promotes. I think that’s going to be a challenge as my ear really isn’t very developed still.

Homework includes writing doing the roman numerals for the chord progression.

If there’s time (there probably won’t be) I’ll see if I can learn some phrases from the solo. No doubt I’ll end up doing some random Am pentatonic improv at least!

Link to my reference track:

Should be fun :slight_smile:

Hey Martin, I’ve just had a catch up on your journal overall as somehow I haven’t clocked it. It’s great that you’ve started one and it’ll be fun to keep track of how you’re getting on.

I recall you following me on my OM debut and were so kind in your words before jumping into an awesome piece of work yourself, and from then you’ve clearly stepped things on significantly.

Can’t wait to see what you do with Old Love, big fan of the song as well as the Clapton Unplugged show.

:+1: :+1:

Thank you! Am I remembering correctly that you played Half The World Away? I remember it was a song I really liked but hadn’t heard for ages and you gave a really nice rendition of it.

That was my one and only time at an OM but I must try to get back to it. It really focuses the mind having to perform. Even this little video log I’m keeping adds a little sharpness to the question of whether I actually have learned something. I realized when I start recording myself that I’d often stop and quickly correct mistakes (and you just can’t do that when playing for people, or even the camera!).

I’ll keep an eye out for you at future OMs/the forum.

Thanks for getting in touch :slight_smile:

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Yep, that was it Martin!!

So true with the red button keeping you honest when recording, no hiding until afterwards when you can hit delete!

Good to see you :slight_smile:

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Here’s the end of week check-point for Old Love.

  • I learned the chord progression and words (though still some ropy transitions, particularly on the descending Am bass-line and the E9).
  • I transcribed the vocal melody (first verse and chorus)
  • I experimented a lot with keys as the Clapton unplugged version doesn’t fit my vocal range. In the end I compromised on Eb tuning (so the whole thing down one semitone).
  • I wrote down the Roman numeral analysis. In Am, it’s basically:
    Verse: i - iv - VIIsus4 - VII [x2]
    Chorus (It’s making me…):
    VI - V7 - i (descending bass-line from R to 6)
    VI - V7 - VI - V9
    Pre-Verse (Old love…): same as Verse

Things to note for future development:

  • Can’t really sing this (missing many notes and just don’t ever feel comfortable). Might need a lesson to sort that out.
  • Didn’t ever feel like I had the rhthym locked in. I’m pretty sure I’m missing something.
  • I didn’t spend much time with playing/singing the pentatonic scale - need to keep doing that until it’s in my ear/voice.

All in all, a good week’s work and again I’m happy to move on. I think I have a short attention span so this weekly thing is good!

I’ve signed myself up for a 1-1 guitar lesson this Friday. Will be interested to see what comes out of that.

Happy guitar-ing everybody!



Really good rhythm and neat little riffs at the start. You should have more confidence in your singing: that was pretty good too.


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Week 4 (Little Wing, Hendrix): pretty sure I won’t get too far with this but seems like a good one to explore given my current interest in learning CAGED and chord fills.
I don’t know anything really about the tune. I started listening this morning and so far I’ve got:

  • tuned to Eb
  • in 4/4; Eb m
  • chord progression guess:
    i - III - iv - i
    V7 - iv7 - III ???

Will fill out more later when I have time.
Quick edit to add a link to the lesson I’m going to try to work from on this so I don’t lose it:

Update on chord progression (having looked it up). In Em (out of key chords in italics):

Em (i) | G (III) | Am (iv) | Em (i)

Bm (v) Bb (bV) | Am (iv) C (VI) | G (III) F (bII) | C (VI) D (VII)


Here’s (probably) my end of week video for this, though I may try again over the weekend. Rather than trying to sing this one, I decided I’d try to (i) record a basic rhythm guitar part, and (ii) play the vocal melody as lead over it. The first part of the video is me recording the rhythm and then swapping over the track in GarageBand to play the lead part.

Good things:

  • I pretty much have the chords learned (though still a bit to go on that. Maybe I should just try to recall them periodically during the day)
  • I experimented a bit with playing different chord shapes/voicings from CAGED
  • I transcribed the vocal melody and managed to (sort of) play it over the track
  • the couple of choruses of improv I threw in at the end for my own amusement had some good elements
  • I did my Roman numeral analysis.
  • I worked out a little bit of the chord sequence by ear.

Things to work on:

  • timing! I tried to record the rhythm to a metronome a few times and man-oh-man that was an eye-opener. Unless I really really focused on the metronome and course-corrected (which was a bit ragged sounding) I was off the beat within a few bars. I’m definitely going to start playing everything I learn to a click.

  • keep working on connecting ear with fretboard (mostly by sing/playing). It’s getting better as I pay attention to it but there are still plenty of times when the note I fret is a surprise (or worse, I don’t even have an expectation in mind and I’m letting my fingers dictate). Slow down and phrase more I think would be a good guide.

All in all very happy with where this got to over a short week’s study (I started Monday). I can see why people love this style of playing (rhythm fills etc) so much and it’s definitely one I’m going to try to get into more. Maybe a less challenging starting point than Little Wing would make sense!

I have a lesson today so I guess that will dictate what my next study item is. I’m guessing acoustic finger-picking stuff but will wait to see.

Happy guitaring everyone!

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Hi Martin,
:sunglasses: :clap: :clap: :clap:
You should not post this in your LL, I accidentally clicked on it at the bottom of my page otherwise I would have missed it … Okay, if you continue to work on this and record it again and looking for not to much feedback it will be fine here (and of course it is fine here), but otherwise please in AVOYP as far as I’m concerned
Definitely a song I should start working on (a year project at least :grimacing: )

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Thanks Roger - appreciate the kind feedback.

I’m really posting the videos as a discipline to keep me on track with actually doing what I set out as an intention at the start of the week. As a happy by-product I’m finding the recording process itself quite interesting and also a really useful practice / testing learning tool.

I’ll certainly look at posting in AVOYP in due course as well.

Hope you enjoy this song when you get to it - it’s one I can imagine I’ll be coming back to and learning more from for years!

All the best,


Week 5 (Stormy Monday): so far, I’ve got (by ear) Slow Blues, key of G, quick change (all dom7) i.e:
Think this is the original:
In-depth guide to the tune (to be explored):

Doesn’t seem like Justin has a lesson on it (odd given it’s a classic blues?). Some threads in the forum came up on a google search though so I’ll have a look at them too.

Main focus for this week is:

  • transcribe melody
  • get basic chords down
  • learn to sing it
  • link voice/notes with fingers (i.e. lots of sing/play of major pent scale, noting the intervals)
  • if time, explore more advanced chord voicing
  • some major soloing (matching pent scale to chord).

So here’s the end of the week recording. I got a bit distracted with other tunes this week so this is a good discipline to have to upload. This is a great tune and there’s loads to explore in it. I hadn’t played it for a few days and I’ve already started to forget some of what I learned (as evidenced by the video!). This is the first blues tune I’ve played that has some easy little riff-type things to include and also that uses 9th chords. Really enjoyed that. There are a few different versions (with different chords), but I think the original T-bone walker (which is what I’m close to in a simplified way here) is still my favourite.

Anyhow, happy with this week overall. I learned a new tune I like and will put into the repertoire for sing-song / jam sessions.

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Week 6 (The Nearness of You). For this week I’m going to work on The Nearness of You (Norah Jones version). I started learning this last Friday (from a David Harrisson tutorial from a few weeks ago) and have found myself constantly drawn back to it, even when I was supposed to be working on Stormy Monday (which I also really like!) last week. The main focus for this week is:

  • transcribe melody
  • learn to sing it (though I think I need capo 2 for my voice)
  • as part of the above 2, work on ear training (drone plus intervals)
  • get the chord changes clean (to a metronome)
  • consider the extensions used and explore other options

For some reason, I’m really drawn to these types of old-fashioned jazz tune and I’m fascinating by the chords.

YT links to the reference track (Norah Jones) and tutorial (David Harisson) below:

I have also recorded a start of week reference track for myself and will use that for comparison later this week (or early next week) when done with this.

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Terrific performance: really bluesy with some great dynamics.


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Thanks Brian!

Here’s the end of week recording. I’m happy enough with where I got to given distractions and being sick. I might try to record this again in a better key for my voice when feeling better. Overall, I’m happy: I mostly have the chord changes down; need to do a lot more for the vocal but it’s serviceable. I did transcribe the melody but can’t play it fluently.

These types of tunes have endless possibility for improvement so I suspect I’ll come back to this from time to time and tinker with bits and pieces.

Anyhow, that’s done for now and on to the next project. Piano has sucked me back in so it may be something on the piano rather than guitar (assuming that’s not breaking forum rules).

As always, I’m posting here primarily for myself as a discipline/record but comments are very welcome if anybody happens to stop by!


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