hopefully above and beyond what you had
imagined it would be.
We need to talk about DADGAD. How did
you discover it?
James Jensen at Solid Air Records encouraged me to think about doing some more
open tunings stuff, figuring that since I was so
comfortable in standard tuning that I would
kind of thrash around in DADGAD and maybe
find some different things. What he didn’t
anticipate was that as soon as I started working in DADGAD I pretty much went straight
for all the musical stuff that I already knew and
I just adapted the fingerings: “Where are my
6ths, where are my 10ths, and where are all
my familiar intervals, and how do I make this
work and make the texture of this work?” And
it wasn’t just DADGAD; I started off with some
open G, open Gm, CGDGAD, but the one that I
ended up sticking with more than anything else
is DADGAD. I just found that it’s such a musical
tuning, especially when you start stepping outside of D major and start playing in other keys,
whether it’s G or A or B.
But I really have enjoyed B% because then
you can get an E%maj7 chord that just doesn’t
exist in standard tuning, where you’re basically fingering the first fret of strings six, four
and two, and if you miss out the fifth string,
what you have is E%-E%-G-B%-D. And, of course,
the D on top is the major 7, and that’s an
open string so you get that extra sonority
that comes from that. The thing I’ve really
enjoyed, and I hope that when people play
through my transcriptions and compositions
that they are alert to all the cross-fingering,
because DADGAD can let you do so many
cool cross-fingerings that are just so hard to
get in standard tuning, and being able to
just throw an open string in there—and open
string against those two adjacent scale tones
on the second and third strings—it gives you
all kinds of fun stuff to play with.
It’s being called “Second Standard” now.
Yeah, “The Other Standard Tuning.” I call standard “missionary tuning.”
Or F, I love to play in F.
Oh, F is great in DADGAD! I am looking at
an arrangement of “I Am the Walrus” right
now that starts on a B and I’m doing that in
DADGAD. The main verse is in A. A is a great
key in DADGAD. To be honest, I forget that I’m
in DADGAD. I’m just in another standard tuning. And having those two adjacent scale tones,
so that you have the G and the A string next to
each other becomes a really useful thing.
A lot of people never get out of D major.
And you know that’s great, in DADGAD the
D stuff is like what E is in standard tuning,
and there’s certainly no shortage of E stuff
in standard tuning. But it has proven itself
to be extremely musical, and very often it
allows me to do things ... for example, I have
an arrangement of “Every Breath You Take”
that’s on my last album Pop Goes Guitar, and
it’s also in the book that Hal Leonard put out.
In DADGAD, doing that in G I can play the
riff and I can play the melody at the same
time, whereas in standard tuning if you use
Andy Summers’ fingering, there’s just no way
that you can play the melody because it’s
not accessible to you, and that’s true with a
lot of stuff. DADGAD allows pop tunes to sit
very soloistically in a way that standard tuning
doesn’t, or you have to work a lot harder.