Category Archives: Theory


Akhak Gwebeom

The Akhak kwebŏm or Akhak Gwebeom or [in Hangul: 악학궤범 ; in Hanja: 樂學軌範] translates to as “musical cannons” it is the most comprehensive musical treatise on the subject of Korean music. It was compiled and published in the early Yi Dynasty during 1493 by a team headed by Song Hyŏn [1439–1504] and other editors, at the order of King Sŏngjong [ruled 1469–1494].

Consisting of nine chapters [kwŏn or chüan] in three fascicles, the treatise describes and classifies musical instruments [for aak, tangak and hyangak], musical theory, sacrificial and ritual music, costumes and ceremonial accessories for court musicians and dancers, and tangak and hyangak court dances [chŏngjae], including dancing and singing. It is an invaluable source not only for the study of Korean music theory and history, but also for the study of Korean dance, literature and language.

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Chang, Sa-hun [1976]. Hanguk Eumaksa, The History of Korean Music. Seoul, South Korea: Eumsa © 1983 by the International Council for Traditional Music ;

Hornbostel-Sachs System

It is a system of musical instrument classification devised by Erich Moritz von Hornbostel and Curt Sachs and first published in the Zeitschrift für Ethnologie in 1914. An English translation was published in the Galpin Society Journal in 1961.

It is the most widely used system for classifying musical instruments by ethnomusicologists and organologists; people who study musical instruments. The system was updated in 2011 as part of the work of the Musical Instrument Museums Online [MIMO] Project.

Authors note: My website utilizes a simplified version of the “Hornbostel Sachs System” omitting technical and vague sounding terms and keeping it close to plain language for search and ease of navigation throughout this site.


** Percussion
*** Clacks
*** Clappers
*** Lithophones
*** Metallophones
**** Cymbals
**** Gongs
*** Pitched
**** Xylophones
*** Scrappers
*** Shaken
**** Rattles


** Drums
*** Barrel
*** Cylindrical
*** Frame
*** Kettle
*** Pot
*** Friction


** Lutes
*** Guitar
*** Spike
*** Viols

** Zithers
*** Bar
*** Box
*** Stick
*** Tube
*** Trough
*** Dulcimers


** Flutes
*** Duct
*** Transverse
*** Panflutes
*** Vessels

** Reeds
*** Bagpipes
*** Shawms
*** Free
**** Pipes
**** Gourds
**** Sets

** Trumpets


Bayin Eight Sound System

The bayin or eight sound or fold system is organized by the materials the instruments are made of rather than how they are played.

Silk [in Mandarin Chinese: 絲 Pinyin sī]: is a category assigned to the stringed instruments be they plucked [as in the pipa, lute or zheng, zither, bowed [as in the erhu], or struck [as in Yangqin].

Bamboo [in Chinese: 竹 zhú] Musical instruments who are predominantly aerophones of the flute and reed categories. Notably the membranous transverse flute [the dizi], the bawu, etc.

Wood: [in Chinese: 木 mù]:

Stone: [in Chinese: 石 shí]:

Metal: [in Chinese: 金 jīn]:

Clay: [in Chinese: 土 tǔ]:

Skin:  [in Chinese: 革 gé]:

Gourd: [In Chinese: 匏 páo]: this category predominately includes aerophones, mainly the Sheng, Sho, Hulusi – may also include the Khean, Mbuat, Keluri, Sumpoton.

Bayin System
Materials Names [M. Ch.] Names [Pin.]
Bamboo zhú
Stone shí
Metal jīn
Gourd páo
Skin g

Guitar Tunings / Indonesian


Indonesian Guitar Tunings
Names Nomenclature Tunings
Stem Las Bas F Maj 13#11 F C D G B E
Kemayoran F C D G C E
Stem Pal F Bb D G C E
Stem Krembang Kacang F# A C# F# B E
Los Quinn Tallu-Tallu G Major G C D G B D
Karambagan Raised A Major G A D G B E
E Minor E B D G B E
Andu Andu Rudang A Sus 4/7 E A D G A E
Rabana E Minor E A E G A E

Citations: Discography: Liner Notes from the Music of Indonesia Series Vol. 20 Indonesian Guitars SFW40447 pp. 10-11 [adobe PDF file] ;

Guitar Tunings / Papua New Guinea


Papua New Guinea / Guitar Tunings
Names Nomenclature Region Tunings
Standard Em11th * E A D G B E
Faiv Ki E A B F# B D#
Faiv Ki E A B E G# B
Faiv Ki F  Bb C G C E
Faiv Ki F Bb C F A C
Samoan Ki G A D A D F#
C Ki East New Britain G C D G B D
Samoan Ki Open D Maj 7 Hood Lagoon D E A E A C#

Citations: Bibliography: Guitar Style, Open Tunings, and Stringband Music in Papua New Guinea by ~ Denis Crowdy ; Apwithirer: Studies in Papua New Guinea Musics, 9 ; Three: Analysis – Samoan Ki and the Hood Lagoon Area Page 46, Page 60 ; ISBN 9980-68-048-2 [book] Websites ; George Winston [ – Slack Key Information Booklet ; Section III ] ;

Guitar Tunings / Alternate


Guitar Tunings / Alternate
Names Nomenclature Pitch Tunings
Standard Renterant Emin11th E A D G B E
Semitone Renterant E [flat] min 11th Eb Ab Dd Gb Bb Ee
Tone Down Renterant  D D G C F A D
  Renterant D# D# G# C# F# A# D#
  Renterant C# C# F# B E G# C#
  Renterant C C F Bb Eb G C
Lute Renterant   E A D F# B E
Lute No. 2 Renterant   E A D F# A E
  Renterant A Sus 4/7 E A D G A E
Lazy D Renterant   E A D G B D
All Fourths Renterant   F A D G C F
Augmented 4ths Renterant C F# C F# C F#
  Dropped C6th C A D G B E
  Open C6th C E G A C E
Major Thirds Open C C E G C E G
  Dropped C C G C F A D
  Modal  C C G C G B D
   Open C Maj 7 C G C G B E
Orkney Modal G Sus 4/4 C G C G C D
  Dropped C C G D G A D
  Open G / C Add4 C G D G B D
    C Sus 2 C G D G C D
  Dropped C C G D G B E
  Open  C C G D G C E
  Modal D Sus 4 D A D F A D
Double D
Dropped   D A D G B D
Dropped D Dropped  D D A D G B E
Dropped D Maj 7 D A D F# A C#
Dropped D 6/9 D A D F# B E
Open D Minor D A D F A D
Vestapol Open D Major D A D F# A D
Curtis Mayfield Open F# F# A# C# F# A# F#
Tarro Patch Open G D G D G B D
Dobro Open G G B D G B D
Slide Open A E A E A C# E
Alternate Open A E A C# A C# E 
  Open A Sus 4 D A D G B E



West Africa Guitar Tunings
Names Nomenclature Tunings
Taara No. 1 C Maj 6th C / A / D / G / B / E
Sinquente Cix Open G Major D / G / D / G / B / D
F / A / D / G / B / E
Taara No. 2 F / A / D / G / C / E
Jarabi F / C / D / G / C / E
Wassalou / Songhai Raised A Major G / A / D / G / B / E
Djeli Madi Tounkara C / Bb / D / G / C / F
Djeli Madi Tounkara Rentrant C# C# / F# / B / E / G# / C#

Citations: Bibliography: Mande Music by Eric Charry pp. 288-290 Guitar Tuning ~ Traditional And Modern Music of the Maninka and Mandinka of Western Africa. The University of Chicago Press ISBN 0-226-101062-2 © 2000 ;

Guitar Tunings / Central & East Africa
Names Nomenclature Tunings
Standard E Min 11 E / A / D / G / B / E
E Min7+11 E / A / D / G / B / D
Mi Composé E / A / [d] / G / B / E
Jean Bosco Mwenda F / A / D / G / C / E
Botswana F / X / A / C / F / X
Daniel Kachamba Full C
Daniel Kachamba Half C
Daniel Kachamba LG
Daniel Kachamba KG High Six
Daniel Kachamba CG
Daniel Kachamba Spanish E / C# / A / E / A / E
Zambia D Maj 7 D / A / D / F# / A / C#
Hauyani G / E / C / G / E / C
Hauyani G / E / C / G / C / C

Note: The “X” denotes removed strings. Mi Composé tuning as used for Rumba and Soukous in Congo DRC, differs from the standard tuning. In which only the D string has been replaced with the bottom E string to raise the D to an entire octave.

The “Lazy D Tuning” E A D G B D as we know it in North America; is used in the genre of Maskandi music.

The tuning mentioned in the table under Botswana comes from a youtube channel Bokete7 featuring guitarists who perform a unique way in playing guitar example Ronnie performing Ba Koba Bana Where it is tuned to an open chord tuning although it not the same F X A C F X. The X denotes a missing string and the guitar is often flipped so the strings are facing from the bottom up like the Hawaiian slide guitar. Although played with strumming and picking. The amount of strings can vary from four stringed guitars, five stringed guitars to six stringed guitars.

Citations: Bibliography: Theory of African Music Volume II by Gerhard Kubik – Chapter IX Genealogy of a Malawian Musician Family pp. 247 ISBN-13: 978-0-226-45694-2 ISBN-10: 0-225-45694-3 ; Garland Encyclopedia Book Africa [book & audio cd] ; Africa & The Blues by Gerhard Kubik ; Some Characteristics Of The Blues Page 83 ; University Press of Mississippi ; ISBN 978-1-57807-146-4 ;