Non-Standard Tuning

What difference does it make anyway?

Non-diatonic tuning….

The diatonic scales were established in Greece before the Greek Tribes were united… and well before the Year of Our Lord….

The different “Church Scales” or Modes that are most common in Western Music are named after the different Greek Tribes, but other peoples used other patterns of notes. The dominant sequence of notes in Western Music is the Major Scale or Ionian Mode. Any other pattern of notes sounds a bit “off” to Western ears. Though the Pentatonic or Five-Tone Scale is rife in Blues and Rock and Country and Jazz… too much… and it starts to sound… Asian….

But… it weren’t always like that….

Standard Guitar Tuning is: EADGBe, and does not constitute a chord when all of the strings are struck open. Standard Tuning makes playing scales simpler because the stretch is restricted for the most part and one finger plays one note for the most part, which is unlike the mandolin or the fiddle (in Standard Tuning: GDAE (same as lower four strings of a guitar, but flipped, which increases the interval when ascending in scale).

“Standard” Banjo Tuning is Open G: gDGBd. When you strum the banjo, you get a G chord. When you try to PLAY the banjo, the intervals are non-uniform…. So… banjo players tune differently for different songs… like some guitar players… especially slide players….

Mountain Modal tuning has several names including G Modal, Sawmill or Mountain Minor tuning. The tuning is: gDGCd. So… you no longer get a G Major chord when you strum the stings…. You get a G sus 4 chord… which is neither Major… nor Minor… so… it tends to be a little disquieting to the Western ear…. Thus… the characteristic “modal” sound…. For songs like Little Sadie…. And… Shady Grove….

And… it seems to be making a comeback in some modern Country songs….




One thought on “Non-Standard Tuning

  1. Pingback: Non-Standard Tuning | Wright-Wang Extreme Mystery, Inc.

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