Monday, March 21, 2011

Current instrument tunings

Because it really is kinda funny.  Eight stringed instruments in the house, eight different tunings.  Only one instrument is in its natural tuning.

Here's where they're at:
  • Mandolin:  G3-D4-A4-E5 (natural tuning)
  • Strat:  C2-G2-D3-A3-E4-G4 (Guitar Craft standard tuning)
  • Fretless:  Bb1-F2-C3-G3-D4-G4 (experiment - 5ths with 4th on top)
  • Banjo:  G4-G2-D3-Bb3-F4 (experiment - open Gm7)
  • SoloEtte:  Bb1-F2-Bb2-F3-Bb3-F4 (experiment - open Bb5)
  • Ibanez dreadnought:  B1-F#2-D3-F#3-C#4-C#4 ("Raindigger" tuning - open Bm9)
  • Ovation:  C2-C3-D3-G3-A3-D4 ("Aerial Boundaries" tuning)
  • Classical:  C2-A2-D3-G3-B3-E4 ("Scratch" tuning:  partial capo on 3fr, strings 1-5)
I guess we'll see what changes first!  :-)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dufour resources

Just so I've got access to them here...  :-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

The genre: 'violent acoustic' guitar

The final thought in that last post got me thinking.   So the genre, for lack of a better term, is either "percussive acoustic" or (per Michael Hedges) "violent acoustic".  Right now at least--these folks are still delightfully new to me--the critic in me would say:
  • Andy McKee and Antoine Dufour are the standout composers.  There is certainly some head music in there, but (like Michael Hedges) there is also some music in there.
  • Andy McKee and Don Ross can set the groove like no one else.
  • Antoine Dufour steals the show for the mind-boggling  (and I do mean ridiculous) technique.
  • Erik Mongrain is a mood master, and rates honorable mention on both some compositions and grooves.  He also appears to be a comfortable improviser.  His new "lap-tapping" direction should prove to be really interesting.
  • Kaki King is the one most likely to throw in the sort of tongue-in-cheek tonal abuse that I love so much.  I think she may be the premier improviser, at least in my sense of the word.
  • Don Ross is the ambassador, the salesman.  I think he's also been the one most encumbered with comparisons to Michael Hedges, which is unfair.
  • Andy McKee is the Sam Bush of the genre.  You just can not help but smile when you watch him play.  He writes fantastic songs and he's just plain fun.
  • Stephen Bennett is like the Jon Anderson of the genre--he's the spirit lifter.  A beautiful aesthetic and apparently a heavy influence on several of the above.
  • Preston Reed is the workhorse.  He's been doing this for quite a while, he's solid and really fun to either watch or hear.
There are lots of others;  I'm happy to say that the genre is alive and well.  Among the crowd there are many different styles and unique voices, and my brain is still leaking trying to grasp everything that I'm hearing.  It's quite possible that the above comments might change in a few months--what I can say is that if they do, it will only be because of some jaw-dropping music.  :-)

Of interest:  I'm not yet aware of any fretless players in here.  Yes, I know that frets give the percussive effects a great deal of their identity, but I can assure you that both fretless and nylon strings can produce similar effects.  Kaki King aside, there also seems to be a great deal of room for melodic improvisation in here, and I am curious to see where my love of double-harmonic scales might lead--fretted or fretless.

It's a hell of a time for innovation on the basic instrument.  Keep in mind that Pandora radio has also brought me to Dan Crary during this same time, and as astonishing as his work is (still can't believe I went this many years without noticing it--especially his 12-string work and some stellar compositions), what I just can't stop churning through is the genre Michael Hedges brought to the mainstream.


Antoine Dufour

I think my brain just sprung a leak.  HFS:

Among the heavy hitters operating today, Dufour stands out to me both for his absolutely mesmerising technical virtuosity, and also his compositional skills.  Right now I'd give him top bill in composition along with Andy McKee.

Erik Mongrain

Credit Pandora radio for getting Erik Mongrain in front of me. After the third or fourth "Man, what is this? I gotta know!" in which his name was the answer, I took a look on YouTube.


I think we've got another heavy hitter out there. His voice is unique, and how's this for creating a mood:

Add to Antoine Dufour, Andy McKee, Don Ross, and of course Michael Hedges.  Great innovators are at work now!