rāga: ‘that which colours the mind’
George Howlett is a London-based musician and writer. I cover topics loosely related to jazz, rhythm, and global improvisation, drawing on my study of guitar, tabla, and santoor in India and the UK. Above all I aim to enthuse fellow musical searchers, connecting new textures and abstract sonic interrelations to the human voices, cultures, and passions behind them.
Recently I‘ve run a “Fresh Repertoire” lesson series in Guitar World, worked as an Indian classical musicologist for Darbar, and contributed to Jazzwise, The Wire, and JazzFM on subjects ranging from Coltrane and Hendrix to West African drumming and animal rhythmic capabilities. I also teach online and in local schools, and release music as Rāga Junglism. See the site for more!
Exploring how we can get the most out of our peg-twisting rituals, the project examines tuning horizons from multiple musical angles: practical, harmonic, historic, social, scientific, spiritual, and so forth…
Menu of Tunings (100+) • Altered-tuned artists • Divine Indian drones • Global instrument tunings • Joni’s stringed canvas • Alpha-melodic word-games • Double-siding: capo-harp hacks • Tales & quotes • Megatable: hidden relations • Glossary: tuning terms • Feedback
“There’s perhaps no better guide to alternate tunings than George Howlett’s ‘World Of Tuning’: with its compendium of 100 tunings, each helpfully accompanied by recorded samples, details on the intervallic relationships between strings, and bios of the guitarists who invented or popularised them…” (The Wire: Unofficial Channels, Aug 2022)
• Other Projects •
- ‘Living Traditions’: 21 articles for 21st-century Indian classical – in-depth Darbar collection exploring how music with ancient roots is adapting to a modern, interconnected world
- ‘Fresh Repertoire’: Guitar World series – new perspectives on the fretboard inspired by music from around the globe: Saharan harps, Ewe polyrhythm, Javanese microtonality, etc
- No Kanjira (with Jesse Bannister) – guitar, sax, samples:
• ARTICLES •
- Shahid Parvez interview: ‘What you play spontaneously should be perfect’ – discussing intuition, bounded innovation, and hyper-discipline with the world’s leading sitarist (Darbar)
- What is it about drummers? Rock mythology vs. tales of the tabla – why have disparate societies of the East and West built such similar stereotypes around their percussionists? (RJ)
- Curious cultural interchange: Indian music in Bristol – anatomy of a fascinating, scattered micro-scene, featuring jazz-funk jams, temple chants, and apocalyptic prophecies (The Wire)
• LESSONS •
- Altered guitar tunings: audio ‘menu’ of 100+ – database of 6-string tunings from around the world, with sound samples, listening links, technical discussion, interrelations, etc (RJ)
- West African music for the fretboard – reworking Ewe polyrhythms and Malian kora harps, and learning about the human lives, routines, and cultures behind them (Guitar World)
- Jazz walking basslines: making them really groove – turning to the low end for harmonic-melodic inspiration, and adapting some ‘bassistic’ inflections for soloing (Guitar World)
- Quick Links: Listen to my music, read my writing, ask about online tuition, try out my free guitar resources. Currently I’m writing a Hindustani ‘Raga Index‘, and trying to unravel John Coltrane’s mysterious, handwritten ‘Scales of India‘ notes with his friends and collaborators. See my CV here – and get in touch!