~ open tunings ~

open G blues ~

open G blues
open E rock
modal tunings

'... a way to fully motorize and orchestrate the mood on a plain old six string guitar ...'

In a nutshell. There is no easier way to begin rocking out for guitarists than to tune up in an open tuning. Beginners through super advanced cats get the same start point power chord just by banging on the thing in an open tuning. So the question becomes ... do you want to rock on out right now ? Got your git, gear turned on ? Here are the pitches:

the big roar
chord melody
storylines
'the house is a rockin'

Open G 5 strings = G D G B D / open G video

Open E 6 string = E B E G# B E /

the big roar
chord melody
storylines
'the house is a rockin'

Electic cats. Tune up to these pitches and step on something to make the big roar.

Playing acoustic? Same pitches and find a slide.

Rock and roll. based on these pitches

all the same chord ... #1 hit dock of the bay

the big roar
chord melody
storylines
'the house is a rockin'

Got to find some blues first. Find these pitches and jam along to the soundtrack.

the big roar
chord melody
storylines
'the house is a rockin'

The superhoot riff. Here's the central shape for the guitar method portion of this work. Have this under your fingers ?

Example 1.?

rockola

First songs. Surley these lines ring a bell. Learned by ear now find the pitches in the open G blues tuning on the one string. All three chord and the truth, surely rote'm up.

all about sound video

Key to the highway. Surley these lines ring a bell. Learned by ear now find the pitches in the open G blues tuning on the one string. Learn these by rote and Example 1.

all about sound video

House of the rising sun. Surley these lines ring a bell. Learned by ear now find the pitches in the open G blues tuning on the one string. Learn these by rote and Example 1.

Four

Banjo / open G. For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 1.

Some open chord magic. This next stepwise idea in the key of E major is based on the open E chord shape, which we stretch open a bit and then reshape a wee bit on the penultimate chord. Looking at the chord symbols in the next example, we see a variety of color tones used to enhance tha basic stepwise motion. That we achieve all this color with minimal effort is guitar magic cool.

We include three open strings, the low E and upper B and E, to help create the magic. This stepwise progression can be a lot of fun, bits of it are part of some very popular songs and its a great way for mostly open chord players to explore and perhaps find some new coolness higher up the neck. And while not quite an open tuning, surely we're moving that way with this type of motion of one chord shape up the neck. Example 18c.

open tuning

Cool? I've loved this motion since the first time I played it. Surely can't remember now where I picked it up now. Hope its 'another first' for some of you :)

New color tones? Well in addition to getting up the neck in this last idea we also expanded past the triad in some unexpected ways. By analyzing the open strings in relation to the diatonic major and minor triads of the key of E major some interesting colors evolved.

A new way forward. As I title this work in part as to be of 'modern guitar', one of its intents is to help folks 'modernize' their playing. So while the above E chord example is in concert tuning; EADGBE, a part of this discussion and links off illuminate what open tunings can do for us to modernize. For most often, open tuning lets our guitar do the work for us in finding the new colors we love to discover. We can get some very incredible sounds with just one finger, or a slide, while using two and three fingers for chords can fully orchestrate our ideas.

With easing up the fret hand tasking and its motions, the strum hand is cut loose and often can just go wild as the rhythm motor. The process of synching up the two is dramatically simplified and our work takes on a whole new level of energy.

If you sing with your guitar tuned in standard concert tuning, chances are the melody note to sing is somewhere in the chord. If you're using open chords then chances are also good that there's some doubling of pitch in the chord. If that pitch is your melody note, then the guitar is deciding what pitch you sing. Which don't get me wrong can be a good thing for sure. Its been done this way for a long long time with tons of great music.

But ... if you're strong enough with your voice pitches and need more room to interpret your pitches / melodies, in using open tunings to back your voice chances are the melody pitch is not going to jump right out. Ya got to find it anew, and maybe each time for a while, but in that finding of the pitch you open the door to a whole new world of your vocal expression. You find your own ways to glide into the pitch you need. In this glide your own vocal style evolves. Is the glide applicable to regular concert tuning? Absolutely.

Blues cats will attest to the open tunings and the magic they provide. As our original banjos were open tuned to an open G chord, turns out that there's the very cool and concise 'blue core' physically on the middle strings of this tuning. Slide players love this core as it is completely movable for any of the scale degrees.

modern guitar
modern guitar
modern guitar
modern guitar
open tuning
rhythm motor
sing and guitar
vocal glide
blues and open G tuning

Overview. The idea of voicing a chord follows along with the voices in a vocal choir. And with six strings and pitches generally available, we guitarists usually have choices in how to stack up our pitches. S just like a regular choir of singers, we too have 'sections' that combine to make the whole sound. From the lowest bass pitches and up through tenor, alto to soprano on top.

the American chromatic
the wayback machine

So just what is a chord voicing? For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 1.

The fifth's of metal. For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 1.

'Beginner' chord shapes. For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 1.

'Open' chord shapes. For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 1.

'Barre' chord shapes. For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 1.

'Easy' chord shapes. For most of us, any new chord shape that comes along is often a bit tricky at first to get to and away from in progressions etc. The solution for those so impassioned is the 'one strum per' method. And while not very musical, it works in gettting a new shape under our fingers. Example 1.

Inversions of chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Color tones. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

6th chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

6 / 9 chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Major 7th chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Augmented chords / V7+5. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Diminished chords. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

Color tones. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

In today's music, while it's near impossible to hear any difference in pitches or tunings, the duality of our pitches enables the blue melodic magic weave over stable, closely tuned chord pitches. Just how central this relationship might be is more about one's own art directions but surely lives at the stylistic heart of Americana guitar. The bend-able string / pitch ability over precisely tuned chords is the basis of our guitar arts.

blue notes
a wide array of chords

The explosive potenetial of the diminished color. As tempos accelerated in bop andits post incarnates, the diminished colors becomes the great accelerator of American jazz. Thanks to its symmetrically sequenced DNA of minor 3rds, two solid theories emerge.

First, simply that the diminished color can slip between two of any diatonic motions at the drop of a hat. Surely some are more awkward, but jazz cats often dig on the challenge of finding the balance and proper presentation based on style, tempo and feel.

The second theory helps creates the various double Two / Five motions. Based mostly on the b9 in V7b9, the fully diminshed 7th chord in this dominant's V7 trnsion encourages chord motion moved around by the minor third interval. We can find this motion in three very lovely jazz classics.

"Satin Doll." The essential wedding gig lovesong, this Strayhorn / Ellington / Mercer 1953 classic number is really built around the Two / Five motion. There's seven different pairings in the song. Bar's five and six of the eight bar A section have what we're looking for here; a double Two / Five a half step apart. Sort of like this. Example 1.

Two / Five
'A' section
half step motions

Strollin'. The idea of a 'silent architecture of music' refers to the structural nuts and bolts of the pitches we use to create our American musical sounds. Part art, part science and surely part magic of nature, understanding this architectural theory helps us project and filter any idea through a wider range of options. Knowing the basis empowers us to sort things out as each new pitch comes along. The idea is to build an intellectual theory structure within, so as the new ideas come along we have a framework to store, organize and recall our ideas.

"Moment'sNotice.". The idea of a 'silent architecture of music' refers to the structural nuts and bolts of the pitches we use to create our American musical sounds. Part art, part science and surely part magic of nature, understanding this architectural theory helps us project and filter any idea through a wider range of options. Knowing the basis empowers us to sort things out as each new pitch comes along. The idea is to build an intellectual theory structure within, so as the new ideas come along we have a framework to store, organize and recall our ideas.

Along the way of this discover process we need to explore some of the history and by necessity, the basics of natural sound, i.e., acoustics, and how we are thought to physically hear sound. This is our first topic of a few where music and math will meet. We combine these to create the precursor for understanding why we tune our instruments of today the way we do and what we gain by tuning the pitches in this manner.

And even though our story includes thousands of years of creative output, creating the rich and varied collection of music we enjoy today, this silent architectural structuring of our pitches has yet to vary very far from its origins. Founded on earthly natural sounds and as we'll soon see, its scientifically measurable acoustical properties, we've simply tweaked our tuning of this core a time or two over the millenia to arrive at today's pitch resource for the modern guitarist.

As guitarists. Turns out all we need to begin this discovery is of course built right into our instruments. We're simply going to use the pitches created by the guitar's natural string harmonics to recreate one way of how our pitches come to us. From the historical view of this, the whole theory tamale revolves around the two pitch octave interval, which lives on today in so many of our cherished American melodies.

string harmonics video

Our story begins at the blacksmith's shop. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

"The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known."

Pete Seeger

Grout, Donald Jay. A History of Western Music, p. 10. W.W.Norton and Company Inc. New York, 1960.

 

Aebersold, James and Slone, Ken. Charlie Parker Omnibook. New York: Atlantic Music Corp., 1978. I know this is a troubling stand to take but I felt I had to and as jazz player, I based it on Charlie Parker's compositions in the Omnibook. Find a copy, count the number of tunes, then compare the number of major key to minor key songs. Any real book of popular American song, by a mix of composers, will follow along similar lines in this regard.regard.

So why a perfect 11th? Simply in that this is the same pitch above our root as the perfect fourth, just now moved up an octave. Again we bump into the idea that with the colortones, the music theory of the natural diatonic 11th is usually more about chords than melody. Thus, having an 11th usually implies that we also have some sort of 9th in our chord. And having a 9th implies we've a 7th in the chord as well. 'The finger bone's connected to the hand bone, the hand bone's connected to the wrist bone' ... all in a perfectly closed loop. Ex. 1.

color tones
chords
melody
loops of pitches
numerical scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
two octave C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio degrees
1
.
3
.
5
.
7
.
9
.
11
.
.
.
15
C major arpeggio
C
.
E
.
G
.
B
.
D
.
F
.
.
.
C

'A half step above our tonic pitch.'

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation