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Bağlama / Saz

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, and other local names include kopuz, irisva, balta, and bulgari). Played with a cherrywood pick, the frets, made of fishing line, are moveable – opening up infinite microtonal shades. […]

 

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Airtap!

F-A-C-F-C-F • OVERVIEW • Used by Montreal acoustic genius Erik Mongrain to facilitate the virtuosic ‘lap-tapping’ techniques of Airtap!, an oldskool viral favourite (uploaded back in 2006: YouTube’s early days). Like playing piano, bass, & drums on the strings – all at the same time…   The intervallic structure matches the guitar’s ‘classic’ Gmaj shape […]

 

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Ten Years

D-E-C-A-D-E • OVERVIEW • One advantage of tuning via spelling is that you can stumble upon fresh, genuinely counterintuitive combinations. ‘Decade’ tuning is a fantastic example of this, placing a wide middle between narrow outer intervals (‘maj & min 6ths sandwiched by 2nds’). Mind the uneven looseness, for example between the slack 5str and super-taut […]

 

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Mesopotamian

B-A-G-D-A-D • OVERVIEW • ‘I once met a mysterious guitarist from Mesopotamia, who would only teach in his local tuning…’ لول Pattern: 10-10-7-7-5 | Harmony: D6(sus4) | Intervals: 6-5-4-1-5-1 • TUNE UP • [YT] • SOUNDS • The actual music of Baghdad spans a rich variety of sonic and social influences, both ancient and modern. […]

 

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Overtone Stack

G-B-D-F-G-A • OVERVIEW • My ‘squeezed’ sequence of tones 4 to 9 in the harmonic series – if ‘squashed’ to 12-tone equal temperament, they spell out a 9th arpeggio as an ascent-ordered stack of thirds: 1-3-5-b7-9. Bill Sethares’ variant keeps string tension within more sensible bounds, by adding a register-jump in the middle (C-E-G-Bb-C-D). Make […]

 

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Open Cm

C-G-C-G-C-Eb • OVERVIEW • Open Cm (unlike Open Dm, Gm, and Em) doesn’t really match with any of our familiar Standard-tuned minor-chord shapes (although it’s closest to the ‘xx0231’ Dmin sequence). Another ‘cross-note’ tuning – as you can easily ‘cross-over’ to Cmaj (like: 0-0-0-0-0-1).   The b3 is placed on 1str, giving the only minor […]