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• Ali Farka Touré tuning •

G-A-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • Associated with late Malian legend Ali Farka Touré (1939-2006), one of the Sahara Desert’s many towering guitar masters. The 6str is raised by a minor third, up to a G – which can then be used as a drone behind open-toned melodic lines in Gmaj (and its associated modes).   Touré’s […]

 

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• Oud (Arabic) tuning •

E-A-Db-Gb-B-E • OVERVIEW • The Arabic oud (fretless lute) is slightly larger than its Turkish cousin, and consequently takes deeper tunings. This interval pattern transposes a common tuning, popular in Syria and the surrounding region (…to jam with the original depth, move everything down 4 semitones: C-F-A-D-G-C).   Note the guitar-like circle of fourths (across […]

 

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• Oud (Turkish) tuning •

E-A-B-E-A-D • OVERVIEW • The Turkish oud (fretless lute) can take many different tunings. Often, the highest four courses (string-doubles) are set to B-E-A-D, while the deepest two tend to be set bespoke for the makam (melodic framework) in question (n.b. Also see my transposition of a common Arabic Oud tuning: E-A-Db-Gb-B-E).   This layout […]

 

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• Bağlama (‘Saz’) tuning •

G-G-D-D-A-A • OVERVIEW • The bağlama is a three-course lute of variable neck length, popular in Turkish folk music (n.b. nearby cultures call similar variants the saz, while other local names include kopuz, irisva, balta, and bulgari). Played with a hard cherrywood pick, the frets, often made of fishing line, are moveable – opening up […]

 

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• Kabosy (‘Leonard’s C’) tuning •

 C-G-D-G-B-D • OVERVIEW • The kabosy is a small box-lute played in Madagascar, likely descended from the Arabic oud (thus implying it is also a much-removed cousin of the European guitar and lute). Often made from scavenged materials such as scrap metal, fishing line, and bicycle brake cables, most designs have 4-6 strings, set over […]

 

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• Rakotomavo tuning •

Bb-F-C-G-C-E • OVERVIEW • Deep tuning by Germain Rakotomavo – a Malagasy master known for fusing the folk repertoire of Madagascar’s valiha (tube zither) with more guitaristic ideas, from jazz harmonies to the picking patterns of Merle Travis. This layout adapts a pattern common to the Antananarivo region and elsewhere (“I raise the B up […]

 

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• Haja’s Bb (‘Bighand’) tuning •

Bb-F-C-F-Bb-C • OVERVIEW • ‘Haja’ (pronounced ‘Adz’) is an innovative modern-generation guitarist from Madagascar. His exuberant, rhythmic playing style fuses elements from across the island’s wealth of sonic traditions – showcased via breathtaking solo electric performances as well as in his long-running fusion group Solomiral.   His preferred layout (equivalent to Orkney -2), adapted from […]

 

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• Charango tuning •

G-G-C-E-A-E • OVERVIEW • Mimics a common tuning of the charango: a small 10-string lute found in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, and elsewhere in the Andean region. A distant cousin of the guitar, the charango’s strings are paired into 5 ‘courses’ (like a 12-string) – and tuned to cluster within the span of a single […]

 

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• Jack’s Chikari (‘Sitaristic’) tuning •

Ḋ-Ḋ-D-G-B-E • OVERVIEW • My fellow British-based Indian raga explorer Jack Jennings replaces his Strat’s 6+5str with super-light gauges, both tuned to high D tones, in imitation of a sitar‘s chikari: two unfrettable ‘rhythm strings’ on the top side of the large Indian lute, used to add groove and textural colour to the main melody […]

 

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• Papuan Four-Key tuning •

F-Bb-C-F-A-C • OVERVIEW • New Guinea, just north of Australia, is marked by astonishing linguistic, cultural, and ecological diversities. One of the world’s largest islands, it is home to a quarter of all humanity’s surviving languages, with thousands of communities isolated from each other by volcanic highlands and dense rainforests. The region’s musical cultures overflow […]