Almost all of the songs I write start life as musical ideas I find through working and experimenting with guitar tunings. Full guitar capos and partial guitar capos are also part of my songwriting toolbox – sometimes I use both to produce a guitar run or melody that stands out and becomes the foundation stone of the song.
I’m not quite sure who first lit this particular fire all those years but I do know I was listening to Joni Mitchell , Nick Drake , Ralph McTell , John Martyn and trying to work out how they played X or Y song. I knew it wasn’t in standard guitar tuning !
No internet back then to help you find things like lists of tunings , tabs or performance videos – I did my best to work things out by ear. (I’ve heard of people who went 20 years working out how John Martyn played “May You Never” )
Usual Alias is a good example of a song that emerged from messing about in DGCGCD tuning ( 6th to 1st string) . My Windows XP desktop computer had given up the ghost that day. I found a fast ascending fingerstyle guitar run and linked it to an idea about escaping the tyranny of software that goes out of date . A different idea of a guy escaping from a crazy personal situation grew from that and I linked that to about a story I’d read about how some film & pop stars book into hotels under different names to avoid detection.
If you want to know what tunings I use for a particular song or if you are a songwriter / lyric writer interested in collaboration please feel free to contact me.
From time to time I’ve collaborated with other songwriters and I’m certainly open to doing so again!
It’s a different challenge and fortunately most of my experiences have been positive. It takes you out of your comfort zone and pushes you into new territory. I also think such a change can often help you get over a “writing block” with your own songs.
A good example of this came when I worked on some country songs with lyric writer Baz Lowe , who lives at the picturesque English village of East Boldre in the New Forest.
With the help of producer Dave Phillips, I really enjoyed working towards new songwriting goals. The result was three songs you can find here on Soundcloud :