Tag Archives: writing tunes

No Rules

Alternate Tunings
About 8-10 years ago I found my self in a little bit of a rut- sort of burned out on guitar. Then there was a series of events all of which help me to find fufillment in playing acoustic guitar. A couple of them I already wrote about in a previous post about Tuck Andress. It was around this period that I started playing around with alternate tunings. Just when I had thought I had seen it all I attended a Preston Reed clinic and concert and started using the body as a percussion instrument. One concept that came to mind was “NO RULES!”.

When you take the guitar and completely retune the instrument it is like starting over. Your normal chord shapes and structures will not necessarily work in the new tuning and you have to abandon your previous views on how to compose. People often ask me how I write my tunes and honestly they are almost all different but for the most part I like to start with a melody line and then fill in the bass notes. By the time the melody and bass are together there are only so many possibilities of what other notes you can fit with six strings, four fingers and a thumb! It is fun to start with a drum beat some times but I have found that I often get too caught up in the groove of the percussion and bass until I can no longer hear a melody or even a second section. Over all exploring what the guitar has to offer in any given alternate tuning can be a nice break from the theory-driven aspects of standard tuning.

I saw Preston Reed perform again recently only this time it was the as a music fan instead of a guitar player. It was just as inspiring but it a whole new way. Up till this point I had been focused on the complexity and technique of his playing, this time around I was swirling in the compositions.

So today I would like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes:

Wes Montgomery played impossible things on the guitar because it was never pointed out to him that they were impossible.” Ronnie Scott