Remember the open tuning article last month? Well, we've found a guitarist who changes tuning on every song. We noticed this death-defying feat from American guitarist Michael Hedges when he supported Suzanne Vega on a recent British concert. We'd already cocked an ear to his mesmerising Windham Hill LP, "Aerial Boundaries", and noted tape collages, deft bass support from Michael Manring, and a technique from Hedges' guitars which made analysis difficult. "Yes, I do change tuning for each song live," he told us, "and I plan the set to fit the changes."
He got his initial inspiration to fiddle with tuning pegs from Joni Mitchell: "And not just the blues players' open tunings, but more experimental things. She got it from David Crosby, who was in Buffalo Springfield, and then Crosby Stills and Nash."
A short tune called 'Hot Type' on "Boundaries" sounded the weirdest tuning: but when Michael actually told us the notes, we felt dizzy. "Low to high it's A, the same as an electric bass, down a fifth from the normal E; B, a whole step up from the normal A; the D string up to E; the G string down half a tone to F#; the B string down a whole step to A; and the high E down a whole step to D. Yes, it's a weird one!" He uses 56, 46, 34, 26, 17, and 13 gauges to contain these pitches.
"With that tuning, the strings do flap around a bit, yeah, but I like that. I use a fairly high action, heavy-ish strings, and a brass nut and end-pins for sustain." And if you fancy trying it, we suggest you also use a prayer or two before the off.
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!