• Open Cmin (‘Wide Minor’) tuning •



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 tone an odd mix of emphasis (as the highest in pitch) and transience (being so high up, it clashes less with lower overtones). Great for modal playing, but seemingly rare – although it does turn up occasionally in outside-the-box classical guitar works.

Pattern: 7>5>7>5>3
Harmony: Cmin | 1-5-1-5-1-b3




Used superbly on visionary composer Carlo Domeniconi’s 1985-6 Koyunbaba Suite – an incredible Turkish-infused classical guitar piece inspired by his time living in Istanbul from 1977-80 (n.b. it’s usually all raised up a semitone, e.g. in Paulo Martelli’s performance below).


Also fingerstyle folksters such as Cairney Hill and Les Finnigan (Up All Night, Ralph’s Town, Hallow Evening).


  • Koyunbaba – Carlo Domeniconi – played by Paulo Martelli (2010):


6str 5str 4str 3str 2str 1str
Note C G C G C Eb
Alteration -4 -2 -2 0 +1 -1
Tension (%) -37 -21 -21 0 +12 -11
Freq. (Hz) 65 98 131 196 262 311
Pattern (>) 7 5 7 5 3
Semitones 0 7 12 19 24 27
Intervals 1 5 1 5 1 b3
  • See my Tunings Megatable for further such nerdery: more numbers, intervallic relations, comparative methods, etc. And to any genuine vibratory scientists reading: please critique my DIY analysis!


—Associated tunings: proximities of shape, concept, context, etc…

  • Open Csus (this with 1str +1): ultra-wide modal C
  • Cello/Haircut: a ‘stack of perfect 5ths’ C layout
  • Gothic: another Cm that ‘reverses’ 6&1str from here


—Further learnings: sources, readings, lessons, other onward links…

  • Cm tuning: practical and creative pros and cons on the Classical Guitar forum (“I know some people feel tuning changes are almost sacrilege…[but] as a composer, they really awake my creativity…”, “the power the low C has…feels so great… BOOOOoooooOOoooOooooommmMMmmm!”).
  • Domeniconi’s Koyunbaba: an interview with its composer (“…Koyunbaba literally means ‘sheep-father’, or ‘shepherd’, but also refers to…a 13th-century mystical saint-like figure whose grave is decorated with colored bits of cloth by Turkish villagers seeking his help with family problems…and the name of a wild, dry area in Southwestern Turkey. Domeniconi relates the story of how the area is seemingly cursed…”).


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rāga: ‘that which colours the mind’

George Howlett is a London-based musician, writer, and teacher. I play guitar, tabla, and santoor, loosely focusing on jazz, rhythm, and other global improvised traditions. Above all I seek to enthuse fellow sonic searchers, interconnecting fresh vibrations with the human voices, cultures, and passions behind them. Site above, follow below, & hit me up for…


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Dedicated to Nigel Tufnel – a true tuning connoisseur

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