Alternate Tunings / South America

These are alternate guitar tunings that are used in Peruvian and other South American Guitar traditions. The open and dropped tunings are the more commonly used alternate tunings.

The same tunings under numerous different names can be found in Peru, Argentina, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. For example D / A / D / F# / B / E the D 6/9 tuning, it is known as Rondeñas in Flamenco and used in the Amazonian region of Peru. It is also known as D Ni`ihau / Old Mauna Loa tuning in Hawaiian Slack Key Guitar.

Note: Should you attempt a tuning whose notes maybe a semitone or tone above the Baulin F / A / D / G / B / E. I would recommend the lightest string gauge set available for nylon string guitars. These tunings can be used on acoustic steel string and electric guitars with appropriate gauges.

Scordatura / Guitar Tunings / South America
Names Nomenclature Region Tuning
Standard Em11th * E A D G B E
Setime Dulce Peru E A D G B D
Wailija E A Dd G B E
Argentina E A D G C# E
  A Maj Cajamarca E A D A C# E
Victima   E A D G C# E
Vaulin F Minor E A C# F# B E
Diablo No. 1 F# A C# F# B F#
Diablo No. 2  Cusco E A C# F# B Eb
E A D# F# B E
Diablo E A D# F# B D#
Victim F Minor E A D# F# B E
E A D G B G
Baulin D Minor F A D G B E
F A D G Bb E
Huayno Peru F B D G B E
F Bb D G B E
F Bb D G C E
  E C D G B E
Peru E G D G B E
Drop C Argentina C A D G B E
Drop D D A D G B E
D 6 / 9 D A D F# B E
Open D Minor D A D F A D
Open D Major D A D F# A D
Yaravi Peru D B D G B E
Baulin / Harp Peru D B D F# B E
Open E Minor * E B E G B E
Open E Major * E B E G# B E
Diablo? E Bb E G# B E
Ancashina, Peru E G D G B E
Open G Major * D G D G B D
G6 D G D G B E
D G D G D F#
D G D G# B D#
* G A D G B E
Comuncha Open G Major Peru G B D G B D
Comuncha Peru G B D G B E
G Minor * G Bb D G B E
Diablo G Bb D G C E
C Maj 7 G C D G B E
G C D G C E

Citations: Bibliography: Websites: Pacoweb.net [archived on the wayback machine] ;

Agogo

Name: Agogo.
Type: Idiophones > Metallophones > Bells.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 111.242
Country: Nigeria.
Region: West Africa.

Description: An agogô [in Yoruba: agogo, literal meaning bell] is a single or a multiple bell now used throughout the world but with origins in traditional Yoruba music and also in the samba baterias [percussion ensembles] in Samba festivals throughout Brazil.

The agogô may be the oldest samba instrument and was based on West African Yoruba single or double bells. The agogô has the highest pitch of any of the bateria instruments.

Citations:

Alternate Tunings / Guitar

 

Guitar Tunings / Alternate
Names Nomenclature Pitch Tunings
Standard Renterant E m11th E / A / D / G / B / E
Semitone Renterant Eb Eb / Ab / Db / Gb / Bb / Eb
Tone Down Renterant D D / G / C / F / A / D
Renterant D# D# / G# / C# / F# / A# / D#
Renterant C C / F / Bb / Eb / G / C
Renterant C# C# / F# / B / E / 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 D E / A / D / G / B / D
E / A / D / E / A / E
All Fourths Renterant F F / A / D / G / C / F
New Standard Renterant C / G / D / A / E / G
Augmented 4ths Renterant F C / F# / C / F# / C / F#
* * * *
 Dropped  A A / G / C / F / A / D
Semitone Down Dropped A# / Bb A# / F / A# / D# / G / C
Dropped B B / F# / B / E / G# / C#
Dropped B B / Gb / Bb / Eb / Ab / Db
Major S6th C / A / D / G / B / E
* * * *
Modal C C / F / C / G / C / D
Double Drop C C / G / C / F / A / C
Dropped C C / G / C / F / A / D
Dropped C# C# / G# / C# / F# / A# / D#
Open C# C# / G# / C# / F / G# / C#
Alternate Dropped C Sus 4/9 C / G / C / E / G / D
Vestapol Open C C / G / C / E / G / C
Dropped C Sus 4 C / G / C / F / G / C
Dropped C Sus 4/9 C / G / C / F / C / D
C C / G / C / G / C / D
Open C6 C / G / C / G / A / E
Modal 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
C / G / C / G / C / E
* * * *
Dropped C C / G / D / G / A / D
Open G / C Add4 C / G / D / G / B / D
Dropped C C / G / D / G / B / E
C Sus 2 C / G / D / G / C / D
Open C C / G / D / G / C / E
* * * *
C6th Lap Steel C6 C / E / G / A / C / E
Major Thirds Major C C / E / G / C / E / G
* * * *
Dropped D Min 7 D / A / D / F / A / C
Dropped D Maj 7 D / A / D / F# / A / C#
Dropped D Minor D / A / D / F / A / D
Dropped D 6/9 D / A / D / F# / B / E
Open D Major D / A / D / F# / A / D
Open B Min 7 D / A / D / F# / B / D
D# D# / A# / D# / F / A# / E
* * * *
D A D G A D Modal D Sus 4 D / A / D / G / A / D
Open A Sus 4 D / A / D / G / A / E
Double Dropped D D / A / D / G / B / D
Double Dropped D Dropped Db Db / Ab / Db / Gb / Bb / Db
Dropped D Dropped  D D / A / D / G / B / E
D# / A# / D# / G# / C / F
* * *  *
Open E Sus 2 E / B / E / F# / B / E
Open E Minor E / B / E / G / B / E
Open E Major E / B / E / G# / B / E
* * *  *
Open F C / F / C / F / A / C
F 5th C / F / C / F / C / F
F Sus 2 C / G / C / F / G / C
Open F F / A / C / F / C / F
Open F F / A / C / F / C / F
Open F F / Ab / C / F / C / F
Alternate Cross-Note F F / C / F / Ab / C / F
Curtis Mayfield F# F# / A# / C# / F# / A# / F#
* * *  *
D / G / D / F# / B / D
D / G / D / F# / B / E
D / G / D / G / A / D
D / G / D / G / A / E
G6 D / G / D / G / B / E
Dropped G D / G / D / G / B / D
Dobro Open G G / B / D / G / B / D
* * * *
Alternate Open A Major E / A / C# / E / A / C#
Open A Major E / A / C# / E / A / E
Alternate Open A Major E / A / C# / A / C# / E
Slide Open A Major E / A / E / A / C# / E
* * * *

Pakhawaj

Name: Pakhawaj.
Type: Membranophones > Drums > Barrel.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.22
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The pakhawaj [in Hindi: पखावज pakhavaj] or mridang is a barrel-shaped, two-headed drum, having its origins in the Indian subcontinent. It is a variant and descendant of the older mridang.

Usage: The pakhawaj is considered the main drum used by percussionists and ensembles under the dhrupad school. The use of the drum is found outside of druphad. The pakhavaj has a low, mellow tone, very rich in harmonics.

Set horizontally on a cushion in front of the drummer’s crossed leg, the larger bass-skin is played with the left hand, the treble skin by the right hand. The bass face is smeared with wet wheat dough which acts as the kiran and is the cause of the vivid bass sound the pakhavaj produces.

Tuning: The Pakhawaj is tuned like the tabla, with wooden wedges that are placed under the tautening straps. The fine tuning is done on the woven outer ring which is part of the skin. The bass skin is traditionally prepared for playing by applying a freshly made batter of flour and water in order to receive its low-pitched sound.

Citations:

Barrel

Barrel Drums are a class of membranophone or drum, that is characterized by a barrel shape with a bulge in the middle. They are often one-headed and open at the bottom. Examples include the Vietnamese trong chau and the bendre of the Mossi of Burkina Faso. Barrel drum is played horizontally.

  • Buk – Korea
  • Dhak – India
  • Dhol – India
  • Dholak – North India, Pakistan, and Nepal
  • Glong khaek – Thailand
  • Glong songna – Thailand
  • Glong thad – Thailand
  • Kabaro – Ethiopia
  • Kendhang – Indonesia
  • Khol – India
  • Mridangam – South India
  • Pakhawaj – North India
  • Sampho – Cambodia
  • Tanbou – Haiti
  • Tanggu – China
  • Taphon – Thailand

Keiroko

Name: Keiroko.
Type: Membranophones > Drums > Barrel.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.221.1
Country: Japan.
Region: Far East Asia.

Description: The Keiroko is a double-sided barrel drum from Japan that was originally imported from China in the 8th century for use in Gagaku [court music]. It measures about 18 cm x 18 cm. Currently the instrument has survived as a performers prop in the court dance ikkyoku.

Playing Techniques: The Keiroko has two tacked heads and it has always been paired with furitsuzumi was held in the left hand and the keiroko suspended from the same hand or from the neck and struck with a stick held in the right hand.

Citations: Bibliography: Encyclopedia of Music, Tokyo 1981, David W. Hughes ; Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary of Music, Book G to O, page 370; Websites:

Veekku Chenda

Name: Veekku Chenda.
Type: Membranophones > Barrel > Drums.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.22
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The Veekku Chenda [in Malayalam: വീക് ചെണ്ട, Veekku Chenda or അച്ഛൻ ചെണ്ട Acchan Chenda] is a type of Chenda or drum used to keep the “thalam” or the basic rhythm while playing the Chenda. The “Chenda Vattam” of the “Uruttu Chenda” is always the “Valam Thala” or the “Right Head” which is made of multiple layers of skin to produce a bass sound. The meaning of “Veekku” in Malayalam language is “beating hard”. The artist produce sound on “Veekku Chenda” by hitting the drum using a stick without twisting or rolling his wrist.

The Chenda is a cylindrical percussion instrument used widely in the state of Kerala and Tulu Nadu of Karnataka State in India. In Tulu Nadu it is known as chande. It has a length of two feet and a diameter of one foot. Both ends are covered [usually with animal’s skin] with the “Chenda Vattam”.

Playing Techniques: The Chenda is suspended from the drummers neck so that it hangs vertically. Though both sides can be used for playing, only one is actually beaten. Using two sticks, the drummer strikes the upper parchment.

Construction: The animal skin is usually of a cow, in a traditional Chenda other skins are not used [skin of bull, ox etc. are not used] to have a quality sound the skin from the abdominal part of the cow is taken.

Depending upon the size, structure and function of the Chenda, they are classified as, “Veekku Chenda” [വീക് ചെണ്ട] or “Acchan Chenda” [അച്ഛൻ ചെണ്ട], “Uruttu Chenda” [ഉര്രുട്ട് ചെണ്ട], “Muri Chenda” etc.

Citations: chendamelam.net [website] ; Valamthala – Veekam Chenda [website article] ;

Cenda

Name: Cenda.
Type: Membranophones > Drums > Barrel.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.221.1
Country: Kerala, India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The cenda [plural cende] is a double headed drum that is played in Kerala, South Asia. The cenda is played mainly by members of the Marar and Pothuvali communities. This drum has our main use is temple music the drum; where several cenda are accompanied by ilatalam [cymbals] in the Thayambaka, kulal [flute] and kombu [trumpet] in the cenda melam.

Construction: The body is made from cylinder of jackwood, 55 cm in height and 22 cm in diameter. Two bamboo hoops are fixed over the animal skin membranes to complete the drum.

Citations: Bibliography: L.K. A.K: Lyer: The Cochin Tribes and Castes [Madras and London, 1909-12 / R1969; A. C. Pandeya: The Art of Kathakali [Allahabad, 2/1961] ; Pribislav Pitöeff ; Stanley Sadie ~ New Grove Dictionary of Music Book A to F Vol. 1 Page 323 ;

Thavil

Name: Thavil.
Type: Membranophones > Barrel > Drums.
Hornbostel-Sachs No#: 211.22
Country: India.
Region: South Asia.

Description: The thavil [in Tamil: தவில் thavil] or tavil is a barrel shaped drum from Tamilnadu. It is used in temple and folk music, where it often accompanies the nadaswaram and also in Carnatic music. The thavil and the nadaswaram are essential components of traditional festivals and ceremonies in South India.

Thanjavur is famous for thavil, so called Thanjavur Thavil. In Carnatic Filmi songs thavils are mostly used, Notable movies: “Thillaanaa Mohanambal”, “Paruthiveeran”, “Karagattakaran”.

Playing Techniques: In the context of folk music, a pair of wider, slimmer sticks are sometimes used. Thanjavur is famous for thavil, so called Thanjavur Thavil.

Construction: The drum consists of a barrel-shaped solid shell, which is carved from a large cylindrical block of jackfruit tree [Artocarpus heterophyllus] 40.64 cm to 16 inches long and in the centre it is 34.29 cm 13.5 inches in diameter and less than half a cm in thickness.

Both the faces of the instrument are almost of the same diameter. The left face of the drum is loaded with a paste on the inside of the drum face to a circular area of two inches. The skins, often in layers, are stretched and stitched over both the faces in a very peculiar manner.

Citations:

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