How many tunings

marg
@marg
one month ago
536 posts

Dusty, thanks for all the info. I like trying out new possibilities, hearing all the new discoveries that are possible with the dulcimer. With an extra dulcimer & extra time, it's fun to explore 

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
1,441 posts

Each tuning needs its own tab, marg, but a small adjustment may be all that's needed.

However, there are obvious limitations.  In a 1-5-7 tuning in D, meaning DAC, there is no F# on the melody string. So you cannot play a D major chord as you would in DAA or DAd.  But that's the point. It's a tuning for minor-sounding melodies.

There are two main reasons why people who fret across all the strings and play chords change tunings a lot less than drone style players.  One is that we don't need to since we have access to notes not available on the melody string.  But the second is that a new tuning requires learning new chords shapes. 




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
marg
@marg
2 months ago
536 posts

(However, if you only fret on the melody string,)

I don't just use the melody, I was using that as an example - I know I can play in DAA using a DGD tab & the other way around, the melody string tab is the same with both - I just need to change my cords. So, I was wondering if the 157 or 154 could be played in tabs I had a lot of, like the DAd or DAA or DGd on the melody string - I could than put the cords with it or if they needed their own tabs?

marg
@marg
2 months ago
536 posts

yes, capos changes the tunings quickly and either there is a tab or if you know the pattern of the tab can just do a DAd or DAA - like put a capo on say the 3rd fret and if there isn't a tab written out for capo 3 just play the DAd tab pattern, the 2,3,&1 Dad tab would be played on the 5th, 6th, & 4th frets 

Interesting and confusing, the more we learn the more there is.

   I knew about some of the tunings but when I hear about the GGd - it made me wonder just how many there are. I am sure each instrument has a tuning it sounds the best with. Now, I'm thinking to try which one of the G tunings sounds best on one of my dulcimers, GGD, DGd, GDd or GDg  can they all be played in DGD tabs ... - ... what about GDc or GDf# is it also a G turning or something else in 154 & 157 

Thank you for taking time to post all of this, I hope it helps many others

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
1,441 posts

You're getting it. Marg.  Remember in my first post when I mentioned that if you are tuned to D, you can probably go down to C or up to E, but going lower or higher than those keys would require different strings?  One reason to use a "reverse" tuning like DGd would be to play in the key of G while still using the same set of strings.

Another thing: the drones can only be the 1 and the 5, but you don't necessarily have to have both.  For example, a "unison" tuning of ddd is quite common. In that case you only have the 1 drone and there is no 5.

And yes, you can theoretically invent any number of tunings.  The Canadian dulcimer player Rick Scott uses all kinds of bizarre tunings.  Some of them, he admits, he arrived at because his old wooden peg tuners slipped, but he just left them and wrote a new song!  

However, if you only fret on the melody string, then you are limited because the drones should only be the 1 and/or 5, and you also have to have the right fret spacing for the melody you want to play.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
marg
@marg
2 months ago
536 posts

ok, getting it

 the bass and middle strings are 1 and 5 and the only string that changes is the melody string.

(DGd is a little different, but you could just count the same way we did before to find other tunings in that pattern.  It is a little different because DGd is considered a "reverse" tuning where the root (or the 1, that is the note that tells us the key) is on the middle string.)

marg
@marg
2 months ago
536 posts

OK, I wrote out lots of #'s & letters to match up to the 155, 158, 154 &157 - that I understand now but what tabs would 154 &157 play?

but is the GGd like 115 & DDa, EEb, AAe, CCg - what tabs would they play? GGd I play DGd tab, what tabs could CCg play

How many of these can someone make up? Ha, my page now looks like some kind of code, I feel like you could shuffle many of these around to make more & more tunings.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
1,441 posts

marg:

Dusty, thanks the numbers make sense this way.

So, if DAd is 158, any combination of 158 I could play a DAd tab - like your EBe, CGc, Bfb it would just be in a different key but I could play a DAd tab

or DAA 155, again any combination of 155 I could play a DAA tab like FCC, EBB, CGG

Yes.  You got it!

marg: what would DGd be 148 but all your numbers are 15 something or GGd ( or is it 115)

I meant 1-1-5 for GGD.  Sorry about that. I just changed it in the original to avoid any confusion.

Technically, the only possible drones are the 1 and the 5. That is why in most tunings, the bass and middle strings are 1 and 5 and the only string that changes is the melody string.

DGd is a little different, but you could just count the same way we did before to find other tunings in that pattern.  It is a little different because DGd is considered a "reverse" tuning where the root (or the 1, that is the note that tells us the key) is on the middle string.  DGd is used in the same way as GDd, so it is an Ionian or 1-5-5 tuning, but technically it would be 5-1-5. What is reversed is simply the order of the 1 and the 5 notes on the drones.

marg: 154 & 157 have their own tabs? Can they be played on just the melody line with any of the other tabs?

Of the four main tunings I referred to earlier, 1-5-5 (Ionian) and 1-5-8 (Mixolydian) sound major, and 1-5-4 (Dorian) and 1-5-7 (Aeolian) sound minor. There is separate tab for those tunings.  If you play in a drone style where you only fret the melody string, you have to use those tunings for certain tunes.  For example, to play Shady Grove you will tune to a  1-5-7 tuning and your root or resting place will be on the first fret.  

Because a lot of tab is now written for people (like myself) who fret across all the strings and make use of other tools (some would say "crutches") such as capos and extra frets, many tunes that were once only played in 1-5-7 or 1-5-4 tunings can be written in 1-5-8 or 1-5-5 tunings.  To use that same example, if you tune 1-5-8 and use a capo at the first fret, you can play Shady Grove, but you will have to make use of the middle string for some of the melody. Similarly, if you have a 1+ fret you can also play the tune without a capo in DAd, again sometimes using the middle string. These methods are not traditional, though.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie

updated by @dusty-turtle: 03/24/21 12:18:51AM
marg
@marg
2 months ago
536 posts

Dusty, thanks the numbers make sense this way.

So, if DAd is 158, any combination of 158 I could play a DAd tab - like your EBe, CGc, Bfb it would just be in a different key but I could play a DAd tab

or DAA 155, again any combination of 155 I could play a DAA tab like FCC, EBB, CGG

what would DGd be 148 but all your numbers are 15 something or GGd ( or is it 115) - i think this doesn't make any sense to me once I get away from the 155 or 158

154 & 157 have their own tabs? Can they be played on just the melody line with any of the other tabs?


updated by @marg: 03/23/21 11:48:56PM
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
1,441 posts

Marg, the short answer is that there are 12 possible keys to tune to for any specific tuning.

The important information in your question is the numbers to which you refer.  Those refer to scale positions of the notes.

Let's start with D and count the letters until we come back to D.

D = 1

E = 2

F# = 3

G = 4

A = 5

B= 6

C = 7

D = 8

So DAA is 1-5-5, DAC is 1-5-7, DAG is 1-5-4, and DAd is 1-5-8.  Those are the 4 main tunings we use. (Although I find the use of modal names for tunings to be confusing, in case you are wondering, 1-5-5 is Ionian, 1-5-8 is mixolydian, 1-5-4 is Dorian, and 1-5-7 is Aeolian.)

You can start on any note, not just D.  As you know, EBe and CGc are other 1-5-8 tunings.  But you could start on any note you want and arrange the strings in the same pattern.  Let's try F.

F = 1

G= 2

A = 3

Bb = 4

C = 5

D = 6

Eb = 7

F = 8

So a 1-5-8 tuning would be FCf.   A 1-5-5 tuning would be FCC.  A 1-5-4 tuning would be FCBb.  A 1-5-7 tuning would be FCEb.

There are twelve notes in the chromatic scale, and we could start this pattern on any of them, so each tuning can be used for any of the 12 keys.

However, in practice, folk, old-timey, bluegrass, or Celtic sessions usually stick to 4 main keys: C, D, G, and A.  So you might want to just ensure you know how to play in each of those keys rather than worry about the oddballs like Eb or F or Ab or whatever.

And remember that if you are tuned to the key of D, you can probably tune down to C or up to E, but any more than that you will probably need to change strings.

To your question about GGD, a "normal" 1-1-5 or Ionian tuning in G would be GDD.  So your GGD just uses two G drones instead.  But to figure out how to use that tuning in other keys, just count.

G = 1

A = 2

B= 3

C#= 4

D = 5

And we don't even have to go any higher.  Tune your bass and middle strings to whatever note you want, start on that letter as number 1 and count to 5.  That 5 will be the note you want for the melody string.

C, D, E, F, G, so in C, it would be CCG.  ABC#DE, so in A it would be AAE.

Again, if you know the alphabet and can count to 8, you can do this yourself.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie

updated by @dusty-turtle: 03/23/21 11:57:23PM
marg
@marg
2 months ago
536 posts

How many different tunings can go with the standard tabs of DAdd or DAA or DGD

Is there a list somewhere?

I would like to try a number of different tunings but not sure what they would be or what tab I could play with them. I know theirs  #'s 155,158 but I don't understand that, so looking for a list of tunings.

I know ones like CGc,  EBe & so on & play the DAd tabs

GGd I just hear the other day, so many I don't know - how would I find out the different tunings?

thanks


updated by @marg: 03/23/21 10:58:59PM