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  #46  
Old 11-28-2015, 05:03 PM
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Rick, I'm sure you know this, but if you don't like the way everyone sounds in DADGAD, and you're looking to not sound like them, I'd not listen to DADGAD for inspiration - look anywhere else. Listen to trombone players :-) or orchestra, or a jazz combo, or a marching band, or a choir, then see what your imagination comes up with and go from there. Chances are much higher you'll come up with something unique. I almost never set out to say "let's come up with something in DADGAD", unless I'm doing something instructional. Otherwise, it's whatever strikes me. It might be an idea away from the guitar that turns out to fit well in some tuning or another, or maybe I pick up a guitar that happens to be in that tuning. Often, it changes in progress. I even have one tune I started working out in DGDGAD, and got it completely done, tabbed out and everything, when I discovered it actually worked better in standard!
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  #47  
Old 11-28-2015, 06:00 PM
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I don't use DADGAD or other open tunings because I get the voicings I want/need in either standard or with low E dropped to D. It's simply a different strokes/different folks thing.
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  #48  
Old 11-28-2015, 06:45 PM
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Rick, I'm sure you know this, but if you don't like the way everyone sounds in DADGAD
I will stop the quote right there since I never said or even implied that. There are plenty of tunes written in DADGAD and other open string type tunings that are well done composition wise. I like what I have written in DADGAD for example. When there is a good melody that suits ("Sheebeg Sheemore" for example) it can be very nice indeed. Another example (which is also a tap tune - horrors upon horrors) of a tune I like is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfF4QLO-L_4

It's just that there is very high amount of things that to me sound very monotonous and un-thought out.
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  #49  
Old 11-28-2015, 06:53 PM
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Originally Posted by rick-slo View Post
I will stop the quote right there since I never said or even implied that. There are plenty of tunes written in DADGAD and other open string type tuning. I like what I have written in DADGAD for example. When there is a good melody that suits ("Sheebeg Sheemore" for example) it can be very nice indeed. Another example (which is also a tap tune - horrors upon horrors) of a tune I like is
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfF4QLO-L_4

It's just that there is very high amount of things that to me sound very monotonous and un-thought out.
OK, I guess I took the "DAGDAD, hmm" to be a less than ringing assessment across the board. I still don't see how one can blame a tuning for someone's lack of melody. I like melody, too, and I find many of the players you seem to dislike to be extremely melodic. Perhaps you should seek out more *arrangements* of tunes (regardless of tuning). Those have a melody you already know to start with, so you're less likely to be subjected to someone else's idea of melody in an original. You might check out my friend Sandy Shalk's 2 videos for Stefan Grossman, for example - all jazz standards (one in DADGAD, the other in Open G). He's got great melodies to start with, so I don't think you'll object to the core material. He uses DADGAD and Open G to create some nice jazzy harmonies that put a new flavor on the old standards. They do sound a bit different, and you may or may not like what he does with the tunes, but then that's the point, he puts his own creative spin on them.
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Last edited by Doug Young; 11-28-2015 at 06:59 PM.
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  #50  
Old 11-28-2015, 07:10 PM
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OK, I guess I took the "DAGDAD, hmm" to be a less than ringing assessment across the board. I still don't see how one can blame a tuning for someone's lack of melody. I like melody, too, and I find many of the players you seem to dislike to be extremely melodic. Perhaps you should seek out more *arrangements* of tunes (regardless of tuning). Those have a melody you already know to start with, so you're less likely to be subjected to someone else's idea of melody in an original. You might check out my friend Sandy Shalk's 2 videos for Stefan Grossman, for example - all jazz standards (one in DADGAD, the other in Open G). He's got great melodies to start with, so I don't think you'll object to the core material. He uses DADGAD and Open G to create some nice jazzy harmonies that put a new flavor on the old standards. They do sound a bit different, but then that's the point, he puts his own creative spin on them.
I come from mainly a classical music background. I am akin to melodies and song structure (logical development). Standard tuning tends have more chordal structure and in my opinion tends to make use of more interesting chord progressions and a greater use of tension and release. The modal tuning tends to be played out more linearly, which is of course a valid way of playing, but in many hands simply meanders.
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  #51  
Old 11-28-2015, 07:11 PM
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DADGAD has all the same notes in it as any other tuning. It's not the tuning, it's what you do with it.

For an example. Or check out Mike Dawes, who used to post here a bit, playing Tony's Goodbye Porkpie Hat:


I take lessons from Mike, and really love his style. Thanks for posting!
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  #52  
Old 11-28-2015, 07:30 PM
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The modal tuning tends to be played out more linearly
Exactly. That comes thru in your music. That's what I meant when I guessed you probably didn't care for traditional, folk, Irish, etc, where there's often a different concept of harmony, very non-western, non-classical, often modal. I like that style of music, you seem to not, which is all fine, different strokes...

I totally agree about "hands meandering". I think we covered that early on - the player should drive, not the tuning. Steve Baughman did his big rampage years ago about the "yellow pages" style of playing, where one "lets the fingers do the walking". As long as the player is in charge, and playing music, driving the direction, choosing the melody, choosing the chords, making the music in their heads come alive on the guitar, then hopefully all is well (tho you still might not like it). If someone's letting the tuning drive, then it's probably less satisfying unless the player gets lucky - and it also probably ends up sounding like everyone else who's letting the tuning drive. But again, to me, that has nothing to do with any specific tuning (tho Steve argues alternate tunings make it easier to turn the brain and ears off and let the fingers run on). But I've heard lots of mindless noodling in standard tuning.

One way to avoid this is to be sure you really have a melody that stands on its own. One approach is to simply arrange existing tunes, where there's a well defined melody to start with. (That can still mean modal if you start with traditional tunes). I think more players should do that, it's informative. It's also a great way to learn a new tuning, especially if you try to use the expected harmony - there's no cheating, when the music says you need an Eb9b5, you need to figure out how to play it. I almost always start an exploration of a new tuning by arranging something, a folk tune, a Beatles tune, whatever. When writing originals, it's a good idea to make sure you know what melody is, that you can sing it, etc. How would it be performed by a band, with the melody on a flute or sax? Again, not necessary, there are styles of music (even classical music) where there's not a simple singable melody, but at least it's a good tool for making sure you're playing something with intention and not "letting the fingers do the walking".

By the way, I suggested early in this thread checking out the Bach stuff that both Tony McManus and Robin Bullock have been doing in DADGAD. Perhaps closer to what you're looking for.
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  #53  
Old 11-28-2015, 07:54 PM
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Don't agree at all with the idea that Irish, folk, traditional music is non-western and has different concepts of harmony. The harmony is perhaps thinner than in some other music, but it's basic occidental harmony concepts. Also thinner harmony was what I meant by more linear, not anything directly due to the melody line.
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  #54  
Old 11-28-2015, 08:00 PM
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Don't agree at all with the idea that Irish, folk, traditional music is non-western and has different concepts of harmony. The harmony is perhaps thinner than in some other music, but it's basic occidental harmony concepts. Also thinner harmony was what I meant by more linear, not anything directly due to the melody line.
Ok, I interpreted you differently. My understanding, and what I meant, is that traditional irish (as well as lots of other traditional music) was/is often modal, and often actually had no harmony concept at all - everyone played the melody. Guitars were a rather non-welcome intrusion at sessions at first because they tended to force I-IV-V harmony on tunes, which sounded "wrong". That has been adressed in part by guitarists learning to play more modally, using DADGAD and Drop D for example.
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  #55  
Old 11-28-2015, 08:22 PM
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Ok, I interpreted you differently. My understanding, and what I meant, is that traditional irish (as well as lots of other traditional music) was/is often modal, and often actually had no harmony concept at all - everyone played the melody. Guitars were a rather non-welcome intrusion at sessions at first because they tended to force I-IV-V harmony on tunes, which sounded "wrong". That has been adressed in part by guitarists learning to play more modally, using DADGAD and Drop D for example.
I enjoyed early choral music growing up. My mother was a choir director in a very large church and we had lots of recordings of more choral music playing at home. The slightly haunting quality (to my ears) of many of those pieces attracts me very much. As far as playing this type of music on the guitar I don't think there is much out there where harmony (modal tonal center, or otherwise) is totally absent.
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  #56  
Old 11-28-2015, 09:39 PM
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These days, western harmony has crept into a lot of traditional music, but it wasn't always the way it is now. This seems to be a decent historical description. http://www.tomhanway.com/melbay.htm

A few apropro quotes:

"Traditionally, piping tunes had no harmony save for droning, typically at a fifth, but even at a fourth, third, or second if appropriate to the tune, whereby tonal centers were reinforced. Fiddlers also used drones as harmony. "

"Even today, in piping, fiddling, and harping, the ornamentation and the tune are virtually inseparable. The ornamentation is the tune. "

"Some nineteenth century tunes resist harmonization or being locked into a single tonality. They have "complex tonality" with competing "tonal centers," like two (or more) little suns exercising gravitational pulls on nearby satellite notes. They give the impression of changing keys or leaving notes hanging in mid-air. Such melodies may befuddle classically trained musician whose "ears" have been trained to hear equally tempered music, major-minor keys, modulations, and Western harmony."

When you hear Martin Simpson, even on his own tunes, he's tending to try to create this kind of effect, melody, lots of ornamention (which "is the tune" according to the above), and ambiguous harmony. Sometimes the same with Pierre Bensusan, tho completely different, and he brings in a lot of jazz as well.
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  #57  
Old 11-28-2015, 10:00 PM
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When you hear Martin Simpson, even on his own tunes, he's tending to try to create this kind of effect, melody, lots of ornamention (which "is the tune" according to the above), and ambiguous harmony. Sometimes the same with Pierre Bensusan, tho completely different, and he brings in a lot of jazz as well.
Did you see my link earlier in the thread from Simpson's website?
Here it is: http://www.playdadgad.com/dadgad/introduction.htm
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  #58  
Old 11-28-2015, 10:21 PM
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Did you see my link earlier in the thread from Simpson's website?
Here it is: http://www.playdadgad.com/dadgad/introduction.htm
This is Simon Fox's comment, right? Yes, very much like Baughman's yellow pages rant. Just looked and found an abbreviated version in one of his Mel Bay book online:

https://books.google.com/books?id=SI...alking&f=false

He calls alternative tunings "both a blessing and a scourge on the guitar world". Steve, of course, plays 99% of the time in all kinds of pretty whacky tunings....

All of which I think I've been trying to say. If you "let the tuning drive" you end up finding the same licks everyone else finds, and you sound the same. If you are in charge and play the music you intend to play, the tuning won't matter. My only dispute with this is that the same thing is true in standard tuning. If you just naturally let your fingers whip out the same standard tuning cliches, then it's no different. It's probably no different on piano, or any other instrument.

For me, perhaps oddly, I think it works the other way around. I've played in standard for so long that my fingers just go to all the expected places. When I use an alternate tuning that's new to me, I'm lost, so I can't play any cliches and I can't "let my fingers do the walking". It forces me to listen and figure out what I'm hearing. What's the melody? what's the chord I'm hearing? What bass line do I want? and then I have to find them in the tuning.
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  #59  
Old 11-28-2015, 10:36 PM
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My bad, Simon Fox it is. Anyway, interesting comments from an insider.
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  #60  
Old 11-28-2015, 10:58 PM
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Useful comments, tho not particularly unique. Even Pierre talks about this sort of thing a lot. I know a little bit about DADGAD, and have been trying to do my part to address this, including in the thread, trying to express the issue that you need to drive, not let the tuning drive. And of course in my DADGAD books, I run thru at least 9 different keys. Just have to be able to play what's in your head, not what's in the strings.
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