Tuning your guitar to sound a major, minor or modal chord is very useful in performing
traditional Irish music, especially in interpreting music originally played on the harp.
A modern harpist would use semitone levers to raise the pitch of selected strings
one semitone in order to tune the harp to any major or minor key. A guitar player
can emulate this by using the any of the above "open" or "alternative" tunings.
The TablEdit programme comes with a built-in tuner for the guitar tuning used.
A good quality capo is also required. I use a "Kaiser" clothes peg-type
for quick changes, or a "Quickdraw" (recommended).
The most basic alternative tuning is DADGBE (by convention from the bass or 6th string) or "Dropped D tuning". This tuning's better suited to tunes in the key of D or Dm, than standard tuning EADGBE, where the bass string is tuned to E and is effectively redundant
when the first position D chord is played. A much fuller and richer basic D chord can be produced with the bass string tuned to low D. As with most open tunings strings are lowered rather than raised in pitch to prevent breaking strings. If you decide to tune your guitar to any of the above tunings you'll be slackening tension only in selected strings. You'll never need to tighten the tension in any string higher than standard tuning, so don't be afraid of breaking strings. There is one exception to this, Open C (CGCGCE) is the only tuning where a string
(the B string) is raised in pitch one semitone to C.
For convenience use has been made of colour coding in the tabulated lists of tunes
(on Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, and Page 7).
There are many more open tunings for the guitar. [See Steve McWilliams's comprehensive list at: CLICK HERE FOR LIST. I have found, like many other guitarists, that the above 11 alternative guitar tunings are the most useful for playing both traditional Irish tunes and other types of folk and modern music. DADGAD and Open G (DGDGBD) are my favourites and I use them more than any other tuning. There may be more tunings out there such as "Orkney" tuning (CGDGCD) with which I am currently experimenting and discovering new possibilities.
Thanks Steve Baughman).
Also thanks to Simon Prager, blues & ragtime guitarist from the U.K. for suggesting DADEAE. To quote from Simon's message in my Guestbook
". . . .because you can play in D, G, A, E and a few other keys without a capo".
It would seem to be a variation on Open E modal (EADEAE) which was
kindly given to me by Dick Gaughn many years ago
(see "Baptist Johnston" on the o'Carolan page)
Alternate Tunings (PDF).rar
and unpack this folder for much more information