I’ve got a point to make, but to get there, first I have to tell a little story. So I’m going to ramble a little bit for no good reason other than to tell how I got to my point.
A few days ago, I came home to find that my wife had broken out some of our old home videos of my son when he was a baby. That’s another story entirely, really, but on one of the videos, I was playing my guitar. I remember it quite well, actually, because it was Halloween 2000, it was unusually warm for that state, and we put our son out on our front porch in his playpen while I sat and played the Allman Brothers’ “Little Martha” and my wife handed out candy to legions of miniature demons, Jedi, and ballerinas.
I remembered trying to play “Little Martha” last year, and that I got frustrated and quit trying because I sucked. On that video, I was playing just fine. But since last year I’ve been practicing pretty hard. So I decided to try it again.
The kicker is that “Little Martha” isn’t in standard tuning. It’s tuned to an open E chord. (Or, if you’re like me and most others, you avoid overstressing the neck by tuning to an open D and using a capo at the second fret.)
While playing around with “Little Martha” (and I did surprisingly well, actually…I was pleased), I remembered reading something recently that another one of my favorite songs was tuned to an open E: The Black Crowes’ “She Talks to Angels.”
Well, I learned “Little Martha” in open tuning, from finding a tab online. Never tried it any other way. “She Talks to Angels,” on the other hand, I’d learned by ear when I was in high school, in standard tuning. I was used to it by now. I wholly sucked at it, but I was used to it. I thought, “hey, I’ll give it a try” and five minutes of re-figuring scales later I was flying through it.
“Easy,” I thought. “So much easier in the open tuning. Wow.” Not every song is meant to be played in an open tuning, of course, but for some things it’s just simpler.
Later that night I was thinking: how much easier could all sorts of things be for me, if I just tuned myself differently every now and then?
Filed under: Art, Life and other states of existence, Music, Taoism | 1 Comment »