Here is a very interesting Video of an Acoustic Guitar arrangement of the traditional Irish tune Shi Bhig Shi Mhor in DADGAD tuning, played by Pierre Bensusan. This arrangement is an improvisation around the original tune. The last couple of minutes of the video has a split screen of right and left hand which will enable you to get in close and see what’s going on. Pierre is one of those guitar players that can make something complex sound and look simple. Pierre Bensusan plays mainly in DADGAD, but a major difference in his playing and many other DADGAD players is that he doesn’t limit his playing to tunes which are strictly DADGAD or tunes in D or D Minor, he treats the tuning as if it were standard tuning.
To check out Pierre Bensusan’s website go to Pierre Bensusan DADGAD Music, I recently attended a concert and a Workshop of Pierre’s, and let me tell you, he’s exceptional !
Pierre Bensusan is one of my two favourite fingerstyle acoustic guitarists, the other being the late Michael Hedges. Bensusan is the master of DADGAD tuning. The song that he is doing, from my memory was an old O’Carolan tune about a battle between two groups of warring fairies. I like Bensusan because he takes a tune and makes it his own. This piece is a grreat one to add to the acoustic guitarists repertoire. One thing that I often do is use an instrumental to string a couple of tunes together which are in the same key or even play a whole tune as a guitar break. By playing solo arrangements it will make you a stronger player and also it’s handy for when the vocal mike falls off the stage and you need to recover without a fuss.
Michael Hedges admired Pierre Bensusan so much he recorded a tune called Bensusan on Aerial Boundaries and Bensusan recorded a tune in memory of Michael Hedges on the Intuite album. Bensusan’s music has a certain amount of sensitivity, don’t be fooled by the ease which he plays it, try it yourself. 🙂 Then you may have an idea why I admire this guy so much.
John Renbourn the British guitarist has been at the forefront of acoustic fingerstyle guitar for many years now, he is a former member of the band Pentangle, and recored some extraordinary music with American Guitar Player / Historian Stefan Grossman.
This youtube has him doing Sandwood down to Kyle, it’s in DADGAD tuning, the tuning that Davey Graham made famous and Pierre Bensusan has mastered.
To see Grossman an Renbourn performing he jazz standard Round Midnight click the link
Grossman and Renbourn Youtube
Many guitar players around the world that have played acoustic guitar for years and have been avid watchers and listeners of its development, would know the impact of Davey Graham the British guitar player. For many players he was their inspiration in sending them off in another direction. Have a listen to this old recording on youtube video of Davey Graham and you might very well hear a similarity in what Jimmy Page did on the Led Zeppelin 111 album. Davey Graham had an impact on other great players of the time such as Nick Drake, John Martyn, John Renbourn, Richard Thompson, all his contemporaries, but the Davey Graham flavour is definitely there, also there’s more cigarette smoke in there than I’ve seen in about 30 years or so. I could almost post this amongst crazy hippy sixties stuff, but the guitar playing is of too much value.
This video is part of a film from the late sixties, complete with gypsy hippy dancer floating backwards and forward in front of Davey in a cafe. Most of us that play open tuned guitar recognise Davey Graham for his contribution to DADGAD guitar.
Also check out Jimmy Page from Led zeppelin playing acoustic guitar on Bron-yr-aur Stomp, it could be of great interest when you hear the rhythm part
Steven Baughman is a magnificentopen tuning fingerstyle guitar player. I first heard of himabout 8 years ago when I was playing Celtic style guitar and from memory Pierre Bensusan had mentioned how good he was, so I followed through on therecommendation.
Traditional Celtic tunes are not only beautiful to listen to but as a player they give you a lot back in return for your efforts, regardless how old they often are, there is always something new to be found in them. I recommend if you plan on learning any of the Celtic tunes, see if you can get to hear a vocal version, this may help you interpret them. The third song is very humorous in its execution in this song check out the rhytmic texture created by his right hand, also watch Steve’s left hand very closely in the first two songs. A lot of players try this style, Steve Baughman does it better than most.
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If you are new to open tuning a guitar
Open Tuning = tune the guitar differently
DADGAD = tune your your lowest bass string to D
Your A string stays the same
Your D string stays the same
Your G string stays the same
Your B string drops down to A
And your high E string drops to D
This is a very good tuning to start with and there are a number of resources available.
I have TAB and dots in DADGAD at www.the-guitarplayer.com/