‘World of Tuning’ homepage: Lessons, resources, and ideas stemming from my tuning work for Guitar World in early 2020. A fascinating, underappreciated field, which offers up unique insights into the nature of music and sound. Everything will stay ad-free and open-access – questions and feedback welcome! email@example.com
Everything you didn’t realise you wanted to know about guitar tuning…fresh perspectives from ancient Chinese manuscripts to modern psychoacoustics via jazz, Hendrix, and Hawaiian slack-key.
—Audio ‘menu’ of 60+ altered guitar tunings – ‘palate expander’ of various 6-string tunings from around the world, with sound samples, listening links, technical discussion, harmonic interrelations, etc
—Tuning onepager: a flexible, combinational approach – my ‘improved tuning method’ commission for GW, aimed at saving time and effort while also warming up your hands, ears, and mind (the ‘what’)
—Guitar World’s ‘Ultimate Tuning Guide’ – more detail on the process, explaining how to combine four key methods: fretmatching, melodic phrases, chordal checks, and natural harmonics (the ‘how’)
—The ‘impatient meditation’: guitar tuning in fine detail – in-depth exploration, approaching from many different angles: theoretical, physical, historical, psychological, spiritual, etc (the ‘why’)
—Indian tanpura samples in all 12 keys – bathe your ears in the clashing, cascading colours of the overtone series with some HQ Indian drones, great for adding texture to your improvisations (free to download)
—Musical puzzle: James Taylor’s ‘stretched’ tuning – is it possible to reach his microtonally-tweaked setup with no electronic technology, using a modified ‘harmonic beating’ method? (for frequency nerds)
—Open canvas: Joni Mitchell’s visual imagination – how does Joni’s intriguing, ‘colour palette’ approach to composing in altered tunings draw from her lifelong passion for painting? (GW – forthcoming)
[—Soon: more global tuning ideas, including microtonal concepts from Arabic maqam and Javanese gamelan. Currently writing an Index of Hindustani Raga with Darbar, so plenty on Indian classical tunings too]
Dedicated to my two tuning gurus – jazz master Guy Harrup from Bath, and Pandit Shivnath Mishra of the Benares sitar lineage. Questions & criticism encouraged – I’ll try and keep this project ‘in tune’, updating it continuously as more viewpoints come in. All contributions credited, all content to stay free. Tell me what I’ve missed, what else to add, etc!
George Howlett is a South London-based musician and writer. I play guitar, tabla drums, and santoor (Himalayan dulcimer), and write about topics loosely related to jazz, rhythm, and global improvised music. Currently I’m a musicologist for Darbar, write ‘Beyond the Repertoire‘ lessons for Guitar World, and release music as Rāga Junglism. See the site for more – or email firstname.lastname@example.org