line

• Schizophrenia tuning •

F#-F#-G-G-A-A • OVERVIEW • Highly unorthodox droning triad used by Thurston Moore on Sonic Youth’s Schizophrenia (1987) – a Joy Division-like song that explores the tuning’s strange slacknesses with long, wordless interludes, replete with dreamy harmonics and a slight microtonal spice. Requires a thinner 4str.   Contains nothing but three sequential diatonic scale tones, all […]

 

line

• Alphabet tuning •

A-B-C-D-E-F • OVERVIEW • ‘Alphabet’ tuning, while admittedly easy to remember, isn’t exactly the most melodically (or physically) practical. Nevertheless, there is always unique value to be found in embracing some creative chaos – in this case, via exploring the arbitrary nature of ‘Alpha-melodic’ tunings (i.e. those with notes chosen via some spelling-derived method).   These […]

 

line

• 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 […]

 

line

• Ten Years tuning •

D-E-C-A-D-E • OVERVIEW • One advantage of tuning via spelling is that you will always stumble upon some melodiously counterintuitive combinations. ‘Decade’ is a fantastic example of this, placing a wide middle between narrow outer intervals (‘major & minor 6ths sandwiched by major 2nds’). Take account of the uneven tension profile – e.g. between the super-slack […]

 

line

• Iris tuning •

B-D-D-D-D-D • OVERVIEW • Unique droning layout created by John Rzeznik for Iris, the Goo Goo Dolls’ 1998 smash-hit power ballad. Balances purity and dissonance: 5-1str are all tuned to D, while the 6str is taken right down to a superlow B – giving a narrow, crunchy minor 3rd gap between the deepest pair.   […]

 

line

• Zigzag Thirds (Major) tuning •

F-A-C-E-G-B • OVERVIEW • A ‘stack of thirds’, alternating between major and minor (i.e. semitone gaps of ‘4, 3, 4, 3, 4’). Proposed by Greek mathematician Dr. Costas Kyritsis as an ideal landscape for simplifying the shapes of all common diatonic chords – a logical point, given that much of Western harmony is built from […]

 

line

• Mesopotamian tuning •

B-A-G-D-A-D • OVERVIEW • ‘I once met a mysterious musician from Mesopotamia, who would only play guitar in his local tuning…’ Pattern: 10>10>7>7>5 Harmony: D6(sus4) | 6-5-4-1-5-1 • TUNING TONES • • SOUNDS • The actual music of Baghdad spans a rich variety of sonic and social influences, both ancient and modern. Long renowned as a […]

 

line

• Cabbage tuning •

C-A-Bb-A-G-E • OVERVIEW • C-A-Bb-A-G-E is surprisingly tasty, if rather impractical. Forms a ‘crunchy’ C13 chord…with the root(s) at the bottom. Seems silly, and it definitely is – but it’s essential to just shuffle things up sometimes. Anyway, J.S. Bach – probably the G.O.A.T. of global harmonic development – did similarly, famously ‘signing’ his name in […]

 

line

• One-Tone Drone (‘Ostrich’) tuning •

D-D-D-D-D-D • OVERVIEW • A ‘one-note drone’ tuning – comprising nothing but D tones. If you ignore octave-scatterings, these ‘monotonal’ arrangements can be classified as ‘trivially repetitive‘: referencing the ‘optimal simplicity’ of the note set (=triviality), and the ‘ever-looping’ sequence of tones (=repetitiveness). However, despite this apparent purity, the tuning’s true magic arises from the […]

 

line

• Bruce Palmer (‘Judy Blue Eyes’) tuning •

E-E-E-E-B-E • OVERVIEW • Two-tone drone tuning known as ‘Bruce Palmer modal’ after its creator, Buffalo Springfield bassist Bruce Palmer (1946-2004). Famously showcased by his Buffalo bandmate Stephen Stills at Woodstock in 1969, anchoring David Crosby & Graham Nash’s soaring vocal harmonies on the rhapsodic, romantic Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.   Forms a many-rooted E5 […]