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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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• AirTap! tuning •

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 way back in 2006: YouTube’s early days). Like playing piano, bass, & drums on the strings – all at the same time…   The interval structure matches our ‘classic’ Gmaj shape […]

 

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• 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 […]

 

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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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• 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 […]

 

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• 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.   […]

 

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• Place to Be tuning •

C-G-C-F-G-E • OVERVIEW • Used to give life to the legato-tinged cluster voicings of Nick Drake’s Place to Be – the second track from 1972’s Pink Moon, his third and final album. Almost identical to his tuning for the title track: the only difference being that here, 2str is a full 5 semitones lower – decreasing […]

 

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• Pink Moon tuning •

C-G-C-F-C-E • OVERVIEW • A resonant Open C variant, with 1str left at E to create a wide-spread Cmaj11 voicing. Used by enigmatic English folkster Nick Drake for Pink Moon, the opening track of his 1972 album of the same name: capoed at 2fr, and slightly sharp of concert pitch (n.b. lower 2str by 5 […]

 

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• Hejira tuning •

C-G-D-F-G-C • OVERVIEW • Joni Mitchell’s setting for the divine arpeggiations of Hejira, released on her 1976 album of the same name. The title derives from an Arabic word (hijra / الهجرة), signifying ‘departure’ or ‘migration’ – particularly the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Medina. Joni came across the term while flicking through an […]

 

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• 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 […]