Watch Joan Armatrading Play Her Classic Ballad “Love and Affection”

Watch Joan Armatrading play "Love and Affection" on her Ovation 12-string guitar, and learn some tips for playing the song with her rich chord voicings.

“Love and Affection,” Joan Armatrading’s beguiling ballad from her self-titled 1976 album, was the young singer-songwriter’s first hit—it reached the top ten on the UK charts—and remains perhaps her best-known song. From its coy opening line, “I am not in love… but I’m open to persuasion,” accompanied by the chime of her 12-string, the song builds into a big-hearted celebration of romance and friendship, with a string-sweetened band and an alto sax solo.

When Armatrading visited Acoustic Guitar’s video studio in 2015, “Love and Affection” was one of the songs she performed solo on her Ovation 12-string. Check out the above performance, which stays close to the original album version and is the basis of this transcription. The ringing 12-string is central to her sound, for sure, but there’s plenty in the arrangement to reward a six-string player, too, thanks to the lush, up-the-neck chord voicings she uses.


The notation shows the song’s opening arpeggios, played with a flatpick; she extends the first measure by an eighth note, hitting the open sixth string before switching to F#11 and settling into 4/4 time. In measures 2 and 3, she strums an A6, B6, and a rich Emaj7 voicing at the 11th fret. Continuing in the song, she mixes arpeggios with strumming, then transitions into a fully strummed groove, especially on the circular E5–Badd11–Aadd9–Badd11 progression that carries most of the second half of the song. 

In terms of form, “Love and Affection” is tough to pin down. While the chart is divvied into six sections, nothing repeats exactly—the song gradually unfolds from beginning to end. Armatrading uses 14 different chords, but a number of them employ the same fingerings. The C#m7 and E5 are the same shape, at the fourth and seventh frets, respectively, with the top two strings ringing out on both. In addition, the Badd11, Aadd9, G6, F#11, and Fmaj7#11 are the same shape moved down the fretboard from the seventh to the first fret: all use the bottom portion of a standard E barre chord and leave the top two strings open.

Toward the end of the song, in the descending phrase G6–F#11–Fmaj7#11–E, keep your second, third, and fourth fingers holding the E shape, so that you fret the final open E chord without the first finger. That keeps you anchored and makes for smoother transitions.

“Love and Affection” has a few challenging fingerings, like the Aadd9/G#, C#m/E, and the seriously stretched-out Bbmaj7, with its fourth-finger barre four frets up from the root. You could substitute easier voicings—such as (by fret numbers, bottom to top) 046650 for C#m/E, or 6X776X for Bbmaj7. But give her shapes a shot—they create nice voice leading in the progression.

Due to copyright restrictions, we are unable to post notation or tablature for this musical work here. You can find it on page 56 of the May/June 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

This article originally appeared in the May/June 2022 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers
Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers

Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers, founding editor of Acoustic Guitar, is a grand prize winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest and author of The Complete Singer-Songwriter, Beyond Strumming, and other books and videos for musicians. In addition to his ongoing work with AG, he offers live workshops for guitarists and songwriters, plus video lessons, song charts, and tab, on Patreon.

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