Guitar in Two Weeks, day 13: Open Tuning

Finally – it took more than a year, but here’s the next lesson: on open tunings.

I have had three life-changing epiphanies in my life as a guitar player. The first was the first time I tried a twelve-string guitar. I realized that the fullness of that sound was what I had been dreaming of all my life, I just hadn’t known it. Fifteen years later, I bought an old Ibanez twelve-string, and although it would be a lie to say that it’s the best guitar in the world, there is nothing wrong with that sound of twelve shiny strings.

The second was when I first tried a Martin guitar. I immediately realized that that was the sound I was after. Fifteen years later, my wife got me an HD-28, and I have bliss within reach whenever I need it (in more sense than one).

The third was when I first tuned to an open D chord.

On a side note, that was in a way the most life-changing experience of them all, because that’s when dylanchords started for real (and man, has that taken up a large part of my life in the fifteen years since then). I had alreadyput up on a little site a few tabs that I couldn’t find elsewhere, but it was when I made the tabs of the New York versions of Blood on the Tracks that the idea of a comprehensive site with exact chords to Dylan’s entire output was born for real.

Open and Alternate Tunings

Just so that the terms are clear: the “open” in “open tunings” means that all the strings are tuned to tones belonging to one particular chord, so that you’ll get a full chord if you play all the strings open.

“Alternate tunings” would then refer to all the other different ways one can tune the guitar. In principle, the dropped D, double dropped D, and Dropped C would count as alternate tunings, but because they are so relatively common, they have their own names.

General remarks

Before we go into the specific tunings, a few words about alternate and open tunings in general.

First, the reason to play in open tunings in the first place is not (or not only) to get simpler chords. One might think that playing with open tunings would be a huge advantage in general:  there is at least one chord where one doesn’t have to do anything with the left hand.

But  that one chord cannot outweigh all the potential disadvantages:

  • All the other chords become more troublesome. Of course, all the chords of the same kind as the chord you have tuned to (i.e. all the major chords if you play in open G or D) can be played with a simple barre chord at the appropriate fret. E.g. In open D, you will have the subdominant G major at the fifth fret and the dominant A at the seventh. But that’s just about all you can do with those chords: play them. No fancy bass runs, no hammer-ons and melodic finesse, no use of the open strings.
  • An open string is like a binary number: it’s either on or off, and beyond that, there is really nothing much you can do with it, whereas a skilled instrumentalist has far greater control of the tone quality once there is a finger on the string. You can bend it, you can apply some vibrato, you can slide up to it or down from it, you can mute it, you can release it — all those wonderful things that make the music breathe and sound natural; all those things that a binary number can’t.
  • Besides, the major chords may be easy to get at, but what about minor chords, seventh chords, other fancy chords? try to play a Cm6 chord — or a Dm7-5 chord for that matter — in open D tuning, and you’ll know what I mean. It’s not that it can’t be done, but it may just not be worth the effort.
    Standard tuning is a quite wonderful invention in that respect: with strings tuned a fourth apart (with a major third thrown in for good measure, between the second and third strings), just about any combination is within reach.
  • And last but not least, one should not underestimate the value of having somewhere to place one’s fingers. A nice side effect of fingering a chord is that one also holds the guitar still . . .

All in all: in practice, in open tunings you’re limited to play in one main key. If you tune to open D, D is what you’ll be playing.

And that is OK: open tunings are for songs or arrangements where one chord dominates. Modal pieces, bluesy tunes, folk ballads — that’s where the open tunings shine.

“Modal” in this context means more or less a style where the “classical” hierarchy of tonic, subdominant, and dominant does not apply, but where other chord relationships dominate. Examples are “Masters of War” and “It’s Alright Ma” from Dylan’s repertory, and songs like “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor” or just about any minor key song from the Irish tradition.

Joni Mitchell’s Naming System

Joni Mitchell is the Queen of altered tunings — she uses hundreds of them. In order to tell them apart, she uses a naming convention. First, the note of the lowest string, then five numbers that indicate the number of frets to the next string, i.e. on which fret to finger one string in order to find the tone of next.

Thus, standard tuning would be named E55545 and dropped D tuning D75545. I will use this convention in the following.

The Most Important Open Tunings

Enough talk — time to get our hands dirty.

There are two or three open/alternate tunings that are widely used, and a host of others that show up here and there. I will concentrate on open D, but the principles are the same in all of them.

Open D

in open D, the whole guitar is tuned to a D major chord,

D - A - d - f# - a - d'

To get there from standard tuning, tune down the lowest and the two highest strings one whole tone and the third string a semitone. The Ds on the outer strings should sound the same as the D you already have on the fourth string in standard tuning. Likewise, the second string should sound like the fifth.

In Joni-naming, this means: D75435. Tune the deepest string to D — one whole tone down from standard tuning. It should sound equal to the fourth string. Then check that the fifth string is equal to the sixth string fretted at the seventh fret and the fourth string equal to the fifth fretted at the fifth fret (they should, if you start with standard tuning). Go on with the remaining strings according to the Joni pattern.

When you’re done, you should hear a wonderfully rich and full chord when you strike all the strings.

A word about pure and tempered tunings: As I mentioned in lesson 6, an instrument like the guitar is always slightly out of tune. This is true for standard tuning, but in open tuning one actually has the option to tune closer to the pure intervals: since you’ll mostly be playing in/around one key, you don’t have to be as cautious as in standard tuning about the problems with temperament, and you can tune the third string to a pure f#, without worrying too much about what might happen if you need that string in an A flat major chord. You won’t.

What’s With The “Open D/E” Thing?

You may come across a label like “open D/E”, or you may see a song you know as an open D song referred to as being in open E. What’s up with that?

The answer is that open D and open E are essentially the same tuning, only at different pitch levels. That means: the intervals between the strings are the same, so you will use the same chord shapes. This becomes quite clear in Joni notation:

open D = D75435
open E = E75435

If you tune to open D and put a capo at the second fret, you are actually playing in open E.

Which of the two you choose, is up to you –

  • You may prefer the darker sound of open D, or the brighter of open E.
  • For open D, there are four strings you have to retune; for open E only three.
  • Open E may be harder on you strings, since three of them are tuned up from their usual position.

Open D Chord Shapes

Here are some of the most important chord shapes in open D tuning:

oooooo    o  ooo    o   oo    o o  o    o o oo
======    ======    ======    ======    ======    ------
||||||    ||||||    ||||||    |||1||    |||1||    111111
------    ------    ------    ------    ------   5------
||||||    ||||||    ||||||    |2||3|    |2||||    ||||||
------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------
||||||    ||||||    |||1||    ||||||    ||||||    ||||||
------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------
||||||    ||2|||    ||2|||    ||||||    ||||||    ||||||
------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------
||||||    |3||||    |3||||      G         G         G
------    ------    ------
  D         D         D

 o   o     o  oo     o  o      o  oo       ooo
======    ======    ======    ======    ======    ------
|||1||    |||1||    |||1||    |||1||    ||||||    111111
------    ------    ------    ------    ------   7------
||2|3|    2|3|||    ||2||3    ||2|||    ||1|||    ||||||
------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------
||||||    ||||||    ||||||    ||||||    ||||||    ||||||
------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------
||||||    ||||||    ||||||    ||||||    |3||||    ||||||
------    ------    ------    ------    ------    ------
  A          A         A        A         A         A   

  o oo     o oo     o oo o
======   ======     ======
|||1||   ||||||     ||||||
------   ------     ------
23||||   ||||||     |2||3|
------   ------     ------
||||||   |||1||     ||||||
------   ------     ------
||||||   23||||     ||||||
------   ------     ------
  Em      F#m         Bm

I’ve included several versions of some of the chords, but the table is by no means complete. It’s in the nature of the open tuning that you can play around with it — play any of the tones in the chord anywhere on the fretboard for different shades of the sonority, or for different licks. So, the first chords in the New York version of Tangled Up In Blue are D [000897] — C [000675].

It should also be noted that most of these names are “wrong”. The Em chord isn’t a plain Em, but an Em7add4, and F#m is really F#m-6. The “A” chords are even worse: only the last one is actually a plain A. This has to do with the open character of the tuning: typically, there will be open strings sounding, and the exact name of the chord or the exact notes in it are not that important. All the A chords above fill the “A” slot, and that’s what matters.

Some of the chords above go together in groups:

D [054000]     D
a [042000]     G [020120]
G [020100]     A [x02120]

etc.

A few words about some of the chords:

D

You may ask: why bother with lots of fingerings, when I can get a D chord literally without lifting a finger (well, actually, the opposite: without placing a finger)? As I’ve indicated, it’s a matter of chord sequences, chord nuances, and preference.

The [054000] variant, e.g. has a full octave between the two lowest strings. This doubled bass tone is a powerful reenforcement of the key (inicdentally, this is the same sound as the Double Dropped C that Dylan favoured for a while in the mid-60s). Furthermore, the tone of the third string (g#) is doubled on the fourth string. This tone is the “third”, the tone that decides whether a chord is minor or major. Taken together, these two features give a very strong sense of the main tonality.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, one might play a shape like D [000300] or [050300], where there is no third at all — hence, the key is neither major or minor. If one adds one finger, one gets [000330], and one is well on the way toward a delta blues feeling.

G

I’ve talked earlier about establishing the key by having the main key note of the chord in the bass, and that the key note is usually heard on many strings, for reenforcement. The G chord in open D defies all these principles: the key note is heard on one string only, the third.

Instead, the chord is dominated by the tone D, on strings 1, 4 and 6. In fact, the G chord in this tuning is most of all an embellishing variant of the main D sonority. This is precisely the same function as the c chord has in Dylan’s most cherished figure: G-c/g-G (320003-3×2013-320003). This “embellished d” character is emphasized by the alternative fingering 020100, where the open second string adds yet another tone from the D major chord. You may also recognize the “physical” similarity between the two figures:

G-C-G     D-G-D
------    ------
320003    000000
3x2013    002010
320003    000000

A

If the G chord is merely a variant of D, the A chord in open D is merely a variant of G. It is basically a G chord with an A in the bass, which technically is an A11 (played x02120. This variant of the dominant is a quite rare guest in Dylan’s songs prior to blood on the tracks, but quite common after that album. Part of the explanation is that 11-chords are central in the gospel tradition, which Dylan dived into shortly afterwards, but it is not either impossible that he discovered its sweetness through the use of this A chord.

One-Finger Barre Chords

If one wants “genuine” versions of the G and A chords, one can use the barre forms: G = [555555] and A = [777777].Since these are one-finger barres, it is fairly easy to extend them with interesting embellishments, e.g. a simple but effective boogie shuffle:

D: 000000  020100   030300   020100 
G: 555555  575655   585855   575655
A: 777777  797877   7a7a77   797877
(a=10th fret)

Open G

The other main open tuning is open G, which is a preferred tuning among slide guitar players. It is also Keith Richards’ favorite tuning. (Actually, Keef removes the lowest string.)

Of course, most of what has been said about Open D applies to Open G as well. As a matter of fact, all the chord shapes apply too, if you just shift everything one string down. I will therefore just outline what I find to be the most interesting differences.

Tuning

Open G has a G major chord on the open strings:

D - G - d - g - b - d'

Joni tuning: D57543. Compare this to open D: D75435, and you will see that the intervals are the same, they just fall between different strings.

Bass vs. The Rest

In Open D, the key note is on the lowest bass string, as well as on the brightest string, and it naturally dominates everything.

In Open G, on the other hand, the key note is on the open fifth string, which means that you can’t just strike all strings and get that full-bodied sound as in open D.

This may seem like a disadvantage, and is in fact the reason why Keef removes his lowest string, but the gain is considerable:

With an extra string below the key note, you have a whole range of extra bass runs, figures and configurations available. In open D, everything centres around D. In open G, you can emphasise the subdominant (which has the deepest bass string, as opposed to open D, where it has none); and reach the key note from below, not just above.

The advantages require slightly more control than, say, in open D, to be realized. If Open D is the strummer’s dream, Open G is the fingerpicker’s or slide player’s dream come true. (oooh, very poetic!)

Chord Shapes

The differences with regard to the bass strings also means that the chord shapes you will mostly use, are slightly different than in Open D. A very useful feature of Open G is that the four lowest strings are in pairs: d on 4th/6th, g on 3rd/5th. This means that it is very easy to use the same patterns on both pairs. Many of the chord shapes have the two strings of a pair fingered at the same fret (e.g. 202010, 020210, etc.), and this shape becomes almost second nature.

Here are just a couple of the chords that differ from their open D counterparts:

 ooooo    o   o    o oo
======   ======   ======
||||||   ||||||   ||||||
------   ------   ------
||||||   ||||||   2|3|||
------   ------   ------
||||||   ||||||   ||||||
------   ------   ------
||||||   |||1||   ||||||
------   ------   ------
||||||   2|3|||   ||||||
  G        G        Em

o o  o    o o o   x  o
======   ======   ======
||||1|   ||||1|   ||||||
------   ------   ------
|2|3||   2|3|||   ||1|||
------   ------   ------
||||||   ||||||   ||||||
------   ------   ------
||||||   ||||||   ||||||
------   ------   ------
||||||   ||||||   |4||||
  D7       C        C

The second G above (505400) immediately shows the “paired strings” pattern. The shape is a way of overcoming the “I can’t use the deepest string” problem, by doubling the bass tone.

The D7 and C pair for me constitute the most distinctive difference between open G and open D. The equivalent chord shapes to the “standard” versions in open D would be C = [x02010] or [x02012] and D = [xx0210] or [xx0212]. As I mentioned above, this C is almost just a variant of G, and the D a variant of C; we’re almost never out of the control zone of the main key.

That would be a very un-open-G way to play it. Using the shapes C = [202010] and D = [020210] instead, with the distinctive paired strings pattern, we’re in a completely different sound world. The D here is emphatically a seventh chord, i.e. a very independent character from the main key, emphasising the difference rather than blurring it. And the C chord, while still not boasting a strong C character of its own, at least stands out from G (thanks to the doubled bass strings 4 and 6, with the tone e, absolutely not part of a G chord).

The last C shape, x520xx, remedies the lack of a key-note in the other C shapes. Obviously, it is not a shape particularly suitable for strumming, since one only plays on three strings in the middle. But for fingerpicking it is quite useful. Then, one can also use some of the x-ed out strings for embellishment.

Examples

Needless to say, there’s Blood on the Tracks – all the songs were first recorded in open D (well, open E, actually), and they are alle transcribed in that tuning.

Joni Mitchell should be represented. Her song “Hejira” off the album of the same title, is played in C77325-tuning and can be found here. The tricky part is to get the main picking pattern going: the pattern covers two measures instead of the simple one-measure patterns we have encountered so far. Once that is in place, the song is actually fairly simple to play.

Tallest Man on Earth: Where Do My Bluebird Fly

Then there’s the most recent star on altered tuning heaven: The Tallest Man on Earth. His guitar technique is exquisite, his musicality astounding, and his stage presence is breathtaking. The first song, “Where Do My Bluebird Fly”, is in open G minor (D57533), and it is actually not too difficult, once you master the two-measure picking pattern.

The Tallest Man usually capos his guitar far up the neck. Both this and the following song have a capo at the eighth fret.

 

 

Intro:
    :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
||------------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
||*-----0-----0-----|-0-----0---------|-----0-----0-----|-0-----0---------|
||------3-----3-----|-3---------3-----|-----2-----2-----|-2---------0-----|
||------5-------5---|-----5-------5---|-----4-------4---|-----4-------0---|
||*-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
||------------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|

                                     ____________________________________
                                    | 1.                                 |
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|------------------||
|-----0-----0-----|-0-----0---------|-----2-----2-----|-2-----2-----2---*||
|-----0-----0-----|-0-----0---0-----|-----5-----5-----|-5-----5-----5----||
|-----1-------1---|-----1-------0---|-----4-------4---|-----4-------4----||
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------*||
|-1-------1-------|-1-------1-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0--------||

 ____________________________________
| 2.
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----2-----2-----|-2-------0-------|
|-----5-----5-----|-5-------2-------|
|-----4-------4---|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------3-------|

|-----------------|-0---------------|-----------------|-1---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----0p2---------|-------------0---|-----2-----------|-------------0---|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----3-------3---|-----3-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|

|-----------------|-3---------------|-----------------|-0---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----0-----------|-------------0---|-----0p2---------|-------------0---|
|-----1-------1---|-----1-------1---|-----3-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-1-------1-------|-1-------1-------|-3-------3-------|-4-------4-------|

|-----------------|-0---------------|-----------------|-1---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----0p2---------|-------------0---|-----2-----------|-------------0---|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----3-------3---|-----3-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------| 

|-----------------|-3---------------|-----------------|-0---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----0-----------|-------------0---|-----0p2---------|-------------0---|
|-----1-------1---|-----1-------1---|-----3-------3---|-----3-------3---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-1-------1-------|-1-------1-------|-3-------3-------|-3-------3-------|
                                                            oh well, I 

|-----------------|-0---------------|-----------------|-1---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----0p2---------|-------------0---|-----2-----------|-------------0---|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----3-------3---|-----3-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
  know you shook the set-up baby,         of all the    leaves upon the
  know our song is all but healthy        as I see dry leaves fallin'

|-----------------|-3---------------|-----------------|-0---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----0-----------|-------------0---|-----0p2---------|-------------0---|
|-----1-------1---|-----1-------1---|-----3-------3---|-----3-------3---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-1-------1-------|-1-------1-------|-3-------3-------|-3-------3-------|
  ground                                                        And I
  down,                         oh

|-----------------|-3---------------|-----------------|-0---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----0-----------|-------------0---|-----2-----------|-------------0---|
|-----1-------1---|-----1-------1---|-----3-------3---|-----3-------3---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-1-------1-------|-1-------1-------|-3-------3-------|-3-------3-------|
      With all this fever in my       mind,                     I could 

|-----------------|-0---------------|-----------------|-3---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----3-----------|-------------0---|-----0-----------|-------------0---|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----1-------1---|-----1-------1---|
|-3-------3-------|-3-------3-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-1-------1-------|-1-------1-------|
  drown in your     kerosene          eyes        Oh,

|-----------------|-0---------------|-----------------|-0---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----0-----------|-------------0---|-----2-----------|-------------0---|
|-----1-------1---|-----1-------1---|-----3-------3---|-----3-------3---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-1-------1-------|-1-------1-------|-3-------3-------|-3-------3-------|
      you're just a riddle in the     sky         Oh,

|-----------------|-0---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----2-----------|-------------0---|
|-----3-------3---|-----2-------2---|
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-3-------3-------|-2-------2-------|
  where do   my     bluebird            fly?

And as the early sign of dawn of thunder
I see you stir the fog around
And when you find the voice and gears of sunset
we'll hear that high and lonesome sound, oh
And I will question every wind
if they gone through the glow of your eyes Oh,
you're just a riddle in the sky Oh,
where do my bluebird fly?

Oh, well I know you shook your feathers baby
upon the ghosts along my trail
And I know your lie was sold and buried
before I knew it was for sale, oh
With all this fever in my mind
I could aim for your kerosene eyes Oh,
you're just a target in the sky oh,
where do my bluebird fly?

Tallest Man on Earth: The Lion’s Heart

The second example, in Open G, is more tricky, especially at the breakneck speed of the album version. Check out the live video (and enjoy the mastery with which he kills the annoying clapping!), and give it a try:

 

  D6
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-0---------------|-----------------|-0---------------|
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----2-----------|-------------2---|-----2-----------|-------------0---|
|-----4-------4---|-----4-------4---|-----4-------4---|-----4-------0---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|

  G                                   Gmaj7/f#
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|
|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-4-------4-------|-4-------4-------|

  Em7                                                   D7sus4
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-0---------------|-------0---------|-----------------|
|-0---------0-----|-------0---------|---0---------0---|-1---------------|
|-------2-------0-|-----------0-----|--0--------0-----|-0---------0-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----2-------2---|-----2-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-2-------2-------|-2-------2-------|-2-------2-------|-0-------0-------|

  G                                   Gmaj7/f#
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|
|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-4-------4-------|-4-------4-------|

  C/g                                 D7
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-0h2-0-----------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-1---------1-----|-------1---------|-----0h1---------|-0h1-------------|
|-0-----0-------0-|-----------0-----|-----2---------2-|-----------2-----|
|-----2-------2---|-----2-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|

  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----0h1---------|-0h1-------------|
|-----2---------2-|-----------2-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
                            There's a

    G                                   Gmaj7/f#
    :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
||------------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
||*-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|
||------4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|
||------0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
||*-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
||------------------|-----------------|-4-------4-------|-4-------4-------|
    pa -    lace a - fallin'  There's a smoke   in   the sky      There's a
    catching     the train to where he's    heard you have been   He's a 

  C/g                                 D7
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-0h2-0-----------|-----------0-----|-------0----------||
|-1---------1-----|-------1---------|-----0h1---------|-0h1-------------*||
|-0-----0-------0-|-----------0-----|-----2---------2-|-----------2------||
|-----2-------2---|-----2-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0----||
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------*||
|-----------------|-----------------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0--------||
  boy     running   downhill to the   lowlands     to - night.  And he's
  fool    now a -  mong us,     a     dreamer      with-in,     dreaming of 

  G                                   Gmaj7/f#
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|
|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-4-------4-------|-4-------4-------|
  you

  Em7                                                   D7sus4
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-0---------------|-------0---------|-----------------|
|-0---------0-----|-------0---------|---0---------0---|-1---------------|
|-------2-------0-|-----------0-----|--0--------0-----|-0---------0-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----2-------2---|-----2-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-2-------2-------|-2-------2-------|-2-------2-------|-0-------0-------|
                                                             And on that...

  G                                   Gmaj7/f#
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|
|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-4-------4-------|-4-------4-------|
  day     there was snowfall in the   street, yellow    light.  And they

  C/g                                 D7
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-0h2-0-----------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-1---------1-----|-------1---------|-----0h1---------|-0h1-------------|
|-0-----0-------0-|-----------0-----|-----2---------2-|-----------2-----|
|-----2-------2---|-----2-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
  cleared the bill and rails just by those dark shimmer eyes    In that 

  G                                   Gmaj7/f#
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|-0-----0-----3p0-|-------0---------|
|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|-----4-----4-----|---4-------4-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-4-------4-------|-4-------4-------|
land      there's a winter, In that      winter's a    day,     in  that 

  C/g                                 D
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-0h2-0-----------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-1---------1-----|-------1---------|-----------3-----|-----------3-----|
|-0-----0-------0-|-----------0-----|-----0-----------|-------0---------|
|-----2-------2---|-----2-------0---|-----4-------4---|-----4-------0---|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----------------|-----------------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
  day     there's a moment    when it all     goes your way,    and you

  Em                C                 D7
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----------0-----|-----------1-----|-----0h1---------|-0h1-------------|
|-----0-----------|-----0-----------|-----2---------2-|-----------0-----|
|-----2-------0---|-----2-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-----------------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-2-------2-------|-----------------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
  know it's a       lion's      heart                           That will

  Em                C                 D7
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------0-----|-------0---------|
|-----------0-----|-----------1-----|-----0h1---------|-0h1-------------|
|-----0-----------|-----0-----------|-----2---------2-|-----------2-----|
|-----2-------0---|-----2-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-----------------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-2-------2-------|-----------------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
  tumble      and   tear a  -   part

                                      C                 D7
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----------------|-----------------|
|-----0h1---------|-0h1-------------|-5---------------|-1---------------|
|-----2---------2-|-----------0-----|-0---------0-----|-2---------2-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----5-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-----------------|-----------------|-5-------5-------|-----------------|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-----------------|-0-------0-------|
                            when he's coming down the   hills      for      you.

But can you still now remember who's been hiding up there?
Through his howling at twilight all his songs of despair?
Do you remember the caller of a black and white crime?
Well he lives by that memory and falls from his mind

And you know it's a lion's heart
That will tumble and tear apart
When he's coming down the hills for you

Well he'll

    Bm6                                 C
    :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
||------------------|-0---------------|-----------------|-0---------------|
||*-----------3-----|-------3---------|-----------5-----|-------5---------|
||------0-----------|-----------0-----|-----0-----------|-----------0-----|
||------4-------4---|-----4-------4---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
||*-4-------4-------|-4-------4-------|-5-------5-------|-5-------5-------|
||------------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|
  walk    in the    city        for - ever                  Oh,
  no      real goodbye         if you mean it               So I 

  G                                   D7
  :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------------|-0---------------|-----------0-----|-------0----------||
|-----------0-----|-------0---------|-----0h1---------|-0h1-------------*||
|-----0-----------|-----------0-----|-----2---------2-|-----------2------||
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0----||
|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------|-----------------*||
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|-0-------0--------||
  walk    in a      time    to be     gone                   Well there's
  guess   I'm for - ever        a  -  lone

:   .   .   .     :   .   .   .
|-----------0-----|-2-----0---------|
|-----0h1---------|-0h1-------------|
|-----2---------2-|-----------2-----|
|-----0-------0---|-----0-------0---|
|-----------------|-----------------|
|-0-------0-------|-0-------0-------|
                      Now he's a

Now he's a stranger among us, he will die in the park
Where he hides from the statues and the weather remarks
In that land there's a winter
In that winter's a day
In that day there's a moment when it all goes away

And you know it's a lion's heart
That will tumble and tear apart
When it's coming down the hills for you

All the Lessons


24 thoughts on “Guitar in Two Weeks, day 13: Open Tuning

  1. Just found your site and am really impressed. Nice work here.
    The Open D/E tuning is great, I am surprised there is not a bigger following of it. I was introduced to it through the Black Crowes “she talks to angels” and “cant always get what you want” by the stones. Both were long time favorites and once I figured out they were both in Open E I started to see a pattern. I then found “buckets of rain” and here we are, I leave one guitar tuned to it constantly and am always looking for new tunes to learn. Seems to be several here that I have never tried out.
    A note on tuning, someone shared this with me and it is a bit hard to explain without pictures but to remember how to tune to G/A and D/E, finger A or E chords in standard tuning and then tune the string to the note that fingered string is. The D and G are the same but you have to visualize it as if there was a fret behind the nut and then you have the issue of needing to lower the other strings to tone they would be if they were on the fret behind the nut.
    I usually tune to the open D because I think it is ealier on the instrument and the strings are less likely to break but tuning to that Open E, in my opnion gives a “brighter” sound and the Open D is a little darker. Don’t know if there is any basis for that other than just personal preference.
    Anyway nice piece.

  2. Ah! Great! I’ve been waiting a year for this — just noticed it. Have to go back and review the earlier lessons.
    Can I ask: If you were playing a nylon-string guitar, how would you handle the strummed songs? Fingerpick them instead? Use a pick anyway? Strum with your thumb?

  3. Personally, I have never strummed with the thumb, but I know it can be done. :) I would either use a pick (perhaps a thinner one than I would use with steel strings) or the index finger. Using the index finger has the advantage that the hand position is more or less the same as with a pick. There is one problem, though: on the one hand, it’s a huge advantage with a well-shaped nail for this way of playing – on the other, the nail will wear down more quickly this way, which is a disadvantage if one also uses the nails for fingepicking. Can’t have it all, I suppose.

  4. Thanks so much for the Lion’s Heart tab. I’ve been wanting to try to play it for some time, but my skills are not sufficient to figure it out for myself. If you ever do tab others by TTMOE, rest assured that your efforts will be appreciated, particularly if it happened to be a tab for Thousand Ways…

  5. Because I’m both a bit slow and a total pedant, I’ve spent the last 3 weeks making a distinction between prayers heard and prayers answered, while checking Things Twice on a regular basis. Luckily, I wanted a tab for Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right yesterday, and so happened across your tab for Thousand Ways.

    Another outstanding tab, thank you. Your sites are signal in the internoise.

  6. Hey do you have any more tallest man tabs?
    these are amazing and I’m a huge appreciator of your dylanchords site
    cheers
    Pat

  7. You’re the only person on the internet I trust to tab the Tallest Man on Earth. For the love of God and all that is Holy, don’t stop here, sir.

    • Thanks for the confidence. I do believe there are some tabs out there that are quite good, though, but you can expect the Tallest tabs to be trickling out on the site anyway — if only because it’s fun…

  8. Just in case it’s of interest to any of you, here is the list of TTMOE tabs that I use. Some are very high quality, others are at least a useful starting point.

    My apologies to the authors if I have misattributed any tabs, and to Eyolf for hijacking his blog.

    If anyone is able to point me at any other worthwhile TTMOE tabs, I’d certainly appreciate it. I’d be particularly interested in Thrown Right at Me, if anyone can help with that.

    Westy619′s Drying of the Lawns: http://www.scribd.com/doc/62831768/Drying-of-the-Lawns-Tab
    Peter Dunn’s The Gardener: http://theresnowhereelse.wordpress.com/tabs/
    Peter Dunn’s Honey won’t You Let Me In
    Somebody’s Into the Stream: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/tallest_man_on_earth/into_the_stream_guitar_pro.htm
    Somebody’s It Will Follow the Rain: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/the_tallest_man_on_earth/it_will_follow_the_rain_guitar_pro.htm
    Misovuk’s I Won’t be Found: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/tallest_man_on_earth/i_wont_be_found_guitar_pro.htm
    Peter Dunn’s King of Spain
    Somebody’s Like the Wheel: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/the_tallest_man_on_earth/like_the_wheel_tab.htm
    Eyolf’s A Lion’s Heart, of course
    Erickd’s Little River: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/the_tallest_man_on_earth/little_river_tab.htm
    Misovuk’s Love is All: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/tallest_man_on_earth/love_is_all_guitar_pro.htm
    Misovuk’s Pistol Dreams: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/tallest_man_on_earth/pistol_dreams_guitar_pro.htm
    Peter Dunn’s The Sparrow and the Medicine
    Peter Dunn’s Steal Tomorrow
    Soulriver’s Tangle in this Trampled Wheat: http://www.yourchords.com/315943/The-Tallest-Man-On-Earth/Tangle-In-This-Trampled-Wheat-Tab/
    Eyolf’s Thousand Ways, of course
    Somebody’s Troubles Will be Gone: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/the_tallest_man_on_earth/troubles_will_be_gone_guitar_pro.htm
    Peter Dunn’s Walk the Line
    Eyolf’s Where do My Bluebird Fly, of course
    Mastabassa’s The Wild Hunt: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/the_tallest_man_on_earth/the_wild_hunt_tab.htm
    Osss10′s You’re Going Back: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/t/the_tallest_man_on_earth/youre_going_back_tab.htm

  9. Thanks for this! Very useful. I’ve just decided to do them all, but in the meantime, this will be my reference list.
    There are a couple more on dylanchords.info now

  10. Exciting news! Clearly, my list will be a lot simpler in the future.

    Thanks again for all your hard work.

  11. Given the amount of TTMOE discussion in this post and its replies, hopefully it’s the best place for me to mention my solution to the Wild Hunt lyrical conundrum.

    I agree that he sings exactly the phonemes that you propose. But not the words.

    How about ‘Oh Hell, I guess I know no wile I will go under to’ instead?

  12. Eyolf, I think the correct lyric might be:

    “Oh hell, I guess I know no wile, I will go under too,”

    Exact same spoken sound as you picked out, but I think this is the logical sentence. Particularly with the surrounding context: He hears old machines humming down below, knows that he doesn’t have any “wile” to avoid the same fate in the end, but just kicks the can down the road for now.

    What do you think?

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