Of all the open tunings DADGAD is arguably the
most popular. The tuning offers new and interesting
sounds that are not readily achieved in standard
tuning. The most obvious reason for using DADGAD is
the ability to use the open strings in a number of
keys, to fill out the sound. Particularly for a
guitarist wishing to arrange tunes for solo
performance, this is a key feature. The tuning is
very flattering in that pleasing sounds are possible
with relatively little effort.
There are two sides to this, however. The ease of playing in keys such as D,
A and G can lead to a dependence on the open strings and a laziness in pursuing
musical ideas to their full potential. The open strings can become boring to
listen to after a while, particularly in live performance. This point has been
well made with a fair amount of criticism leveled at guitarists using tunings
such as DADGAD. However, the solution to this problem is not obvious, since on
the surface the tuning is biased towards certain ways of playing. This can be
frustrating and just as in standard tuning, players might feel they are in a
rut. In DADGAD the ruts are particularly deep.
This book was written to help players expand their use of DADGAD beyond the
obvious elements. A section is given to note selection using the modal scale
system. This section was written especially for DADGAD tuning, and scale
harmonizations are provided which reference over 300 chord diagrams. The modal
framework allows a number of key signatures to be surprisingly accessible in
DADGAD, for example Bb, F and A minor.
The use of ornamentation is described, particularly for rendering Celtic
pieces as a solo guitarist. Techniques for mimicking instruments such as fiddles
and pipes are covered including finger triplets, thumb triplets, left hand
ornamentation and percussive effects.
A section on harp style guitar explains how DADGAD is ideal for producing
melodies in a cascading manner across several strings. The open strings in the
tuning can be used to great effect to create a harp like sound. This topic
requires a degree of right hand organization and a section is given to avoiding
bad habits which hinder right hand freedom.