Alternate Tunings

Yesterday morning, I woke up just before 5:00 a.m. and since it was my day off, I was a bit frustrated because I could have used that extra hour of sleep.  Sunday had been an enormous day at church, 15 hours worth, and though I was fine to get up early enough to Anjie to the airport, 5:00 was earlier than I wanted.  But I was awake, so I got up, grabbed some coffee and wandered into the living room, where my guitar was looking bored.  Instinctively, I picked it up.  I’ve been doing that a lot lately.  It’s been years since I’ve enjoyed playing guitar as much as I am these days.   I’m not much a player, but for reasons that I’ll have to blog about later, my skills are improving, and it’s just fun.

So I’m playing along in the key of A, holding a simple figuring, enjoying the fact that as I move it up and down the fretboard, I’m getting sounds I like, what they call droning chords (I think that’s what they call them), and it occurs to me to shift the fingering down a string, so that now we’re working in the key of E.  But it doesn’t work, because the “G” string isn’t right.  It’s an open string, so I think, what I’m doing will work if I were drop the G to an F#. So I do.

Sure enough, what I was trying to do worked.

Alternate ways of tuning the guitar is something I’ve always wanted to mess around with.  David Wilcox plays all kinds of tunings, but I’ve never taken the time to learn how all that works.  But the sheer delight of accidentally discovering that simple move from G to F# has inspired me.  As I played up and down the fretboard much of the day, I felt a kind of joy that often escapes me.

It’s not hard to make the application that change is like that.   Small re-tunings, a mere half-step’s worth, is often enough to dislodge the dissonance

No lyrics, though…

2 Comments

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  1. Yea for you Jeff!! Most of the time when I play I am adjusting my fingers in ways that sometimes hurts but the sound that results are amazeing to me (I need spelling lessons). Also alot of what I learn at first was an accident on my part but I heard it and ask myself “Can I do that again”?.
    Sometimes I have played this way and found that I recognize the tune and have to do a search online to see what it was. I am going to try and learn some songs that require detuneing to play certain songs. From what I understand thats tuneing all the strings down one note.??
    Anyway there are a lot of beautiful moments that can occur when going off the beaten path to listen for sounds that make your heart want to sore. Strum on dude!!

  2. I’m still looking for more time to practice. The only time it happens now is on Saturday night, preparing for Children’s worship, and on Sunday morning, when I’m surrounded by a rowdy bunch of kids all singing at the top of their lungs and dancing all over the room.

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