Tag 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



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 ;

Samoa / Guitar Tunings

The alternate guitar tunings as represented on this page from the Samoan slack key tradition of Igi Le.

1.) Standard Tuning E / A / D / G / B / E called “Ki Sepaniolo” meaning “Spanish Tuning” or “Standard Tuning” and is mainly played in the key of C.

2.) Open G Major tuning D / G / D / G / B / D in Hawaiian slack key it is called the Tarro Patch tuning. In Samoa it is called “Ki Tu Fa” which probably means “Fourth Position Key”.

3.) A variation of the G Major Tuning G / F / D / G / B / D called “Sui Ki A Le Ki Tu Fa” meaning “Slack Key of the Open G” – and “sui” means “change” or “weaken”, which could also be taken to mean “slack”.

4.) D Wahine Tuning D / A / D / F# / A / C# sometimes called “Ki Salamo” and also “Repentance Tuning”.  This tuning was likely introduced originally from Hawaiian Slack Key.

5.) The Sui Ki Maualuga or High Slack Key tuning in Hawaiian Slack Key is C / G / C / G / A / E as used by Leonard Kwan. Also the Hawaiian Slack Key guitarist Sonny Chillingworth used a C Mauna Loa Tuning that he called the Samoan Mauna Loa Tuning F / G / C / G / C / E – on the Samoan song “Let Me Hear You Whisper” on his
recording Sonny Solo. Note the tunings are similar to one another.

6.) There is an undocumented tuning called “Ki Tu Lua” or the “Second Position Key”. It is speculated that this tuning could be the F Wahine tuning C / F / C / G / C / E  for reference the Hawaiian Slack Key guitarist Sonny Chillingworth occasionally played in a C major tuning that he called the “Samoan C major tuning F / G / C / G / C / E.

Tunings / Samoan Guitar
Names Key / Pitch Tunings
Ki Sepaniolo Standard E A D G B E
Ki Ta Lua C F C G C E
Sui Ki Maualuga High Slack Key C G C G A C
Sui Ki Maualuga High Slack Key C G C G A E
Ki Ta Lua Second Position Key C G C G C E
Ki Ta Lua Second Position Key F G C G C E
Sui Ki A Le Ki Tu Fa Slack Key Open G G F D G B D
Ki Salamo Repentance Tuning  D A D F# A C#
Ki Tu Fa Open G D G D G B D

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: georgewinston.com [Slack Key Guitar, Book 1 pdf file] ;