Thursday, May 20, 2004

Nick Drake is all awkward and dead


What makes Nick Drake probably the most interesting of all the famous guitarists is the way he used alternate tunings. In piano playing, you play a lot of weird, dischordant-sounding chords with five or more notes, called tone clusters. In standard guitar tuning, it's hard to play tone cluster chords, so Nick Drake used a variety of mysterious and often unique alternate tunings to play these chords. Generally speaking the chord shapes are still hard, as they're often barre chords and usually require all six strings. And because Nick Drake is all awkward and dead, these tunings and chords are often lost. My advice to anyone is to experiment with tone clusters and dissonant chords, because it's the only area of the guitar which hasn't been explored. Except by folk guitarists who write lots of songs about rivers, that is.

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