Michael Hedges Guitar Tunings

Michael’s guitar tunings are cleverly presented in a searchable tunings database at Stropes Editions, Ltd. (Let us all give thanks to John Stropes for deciding to post it and Don Adams for the tenacity to code all those gazillion subscripted numerals!) But before you run over there and stock up on tunings, I’d like to say something I think needs saying about Michael’s tunings.

All too often I get e-mail from folks telling me they’ve learned such and such a Hedges tune with nothing but the tuning. Even something as complex as “Aerial Boundaries”. But then when I ask questions such as, “So, you got the upstroke with the thumb in measures 45 and 46 while the other two voices are going?”, or, “So, you got the right hand pinky muting on the upstrokes in the bridge on ‘Jitterboogie’?”…I get blank stares. My point is that Michael’s music is so rich and full of brilliant nuances which are essential to the music’s execution that you’re not likely to get it all without a perfect transcription. And while the available videos help, don’t fool yourself—there’s more going on than you can see. You are likely to pluck out what your ears and hands are ready for, but not necessarily the full depth of what’s really there. So if you’re going to invest the time to learn Michael’s tunes, you ought to do it right so you get the most out of it. As Michael once said about learning to play other people’s music, “…the path to yourself may be through others.” But if you agree with that notion, do it right and check out Michael Hedges/Rhythm, Sonority Silence or any of the individual transcriptions of Michael’s music transcribed by John Stropes. The man’s passion is to make this music accessible to the rest of us and he does so with total accuracy and incredible insight. In many ways, he knows Michael’s music better than Michael.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for tunings to jump start you onto something of your own or to take Michael’s tunes in a radically different direction in the same way he does with other folk’s music, then bon voyage!

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