This is one of those nothing-to-do-with-iPads posts. While idly browsing eBay one day, I stumbled across the spider capo. It lets you fret the strings individually so you can come up with some really wacky tunings.
As well as the obvious guitar version, there’s a four-string version for banjos, mandolins, etc. My instrument of choice is the Irish bouzouki, and I have never got on well with capos because of the way the pressure on the octave pairs of strings make them go out of tune. But with a bit of fiddling around with it, this one sounds quite good because you can put different pressure on different pairs of strings.
After playing around with it for a while, I discovered a tuning that I liked so much I semi-permanently retuned my bouzouki and stopped using the capo. I tuned the 2nd & 3rd pairs of strings up a semitone to change the GDAD tuning to G-Eb-Bb-D. Not quite easily pronounceable as the DADGAD guitar tuning, but lovely nonetheless. The open chord is an Eb maj7, which also makes it easier to accompany Tom’s Eb alto sax, and suits Ellie’s preference for playing her flute in Bb and Eb.
Since this discovery, many of the tunes I’ve written have used this tuning. This set of three short tunes is probably my favourite recording I’ve made in the last year. It also uses the Friedlander Violin – more on that another time.
I also created a video for it using the visualiser in iTunes, which is rather hypnotic.