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Old 05-24-2005, 02:19 PM   #1
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The Tunings of Michael Hedges

This whole forum suffers from the incredible lack of knowledge about this genius of acoustic guitar, Michael Hedges, so in this thread I will be providing information on the extensive list of alternate tunings he uses for his brilliant acoustic compositions, with another thread to be started on his colleague and Windham Hill label founder, Will Ackerman.

These alternate tunings are very often modal and not designed for typical acoustic techniques such as slide or blues/rock styles. They are lush and sometimes dissonant tools to playing beautiful, almost orchestral acoustic guitar and naturally lend themselves to all sorts of great techniques, such as harmonic slapping and the "explosive pull-off." Harmonic slapping is incredibly effective and easy in these open tunings: it takes a while to get the hang of but you can get incredible, dulcimer-like textures by turning the guitar onto your lap like a lap steel, hitting harmonics at the seventh, twelfth, and fifth nodes with your left hand, and tapping out bass notes on the lower strings with your right hand. This is a typical Hedges technique that makes one guitar sometimes sound like four plus a drum set.

The explosive pull-off is great also: for this, you fret a one finger barre on the lowest strings (often, but not always, mind you, the tunings on the low strings are some permutation of a power chord or a sus2 chord) and pull off by dragging your fingers across the strings, arpeggiating them as you go. Followed by a quick strum or slap, you can get incredibly percussive passages going. These are two basic but unbelievably effective Hedges tricks that will certainly impress the quieter ladies who couldn't tell shredding from a bee sting and who care just as little for it.

Now, some tunings Hedges uses. These should seriously inspire your compositional quality on acoustic, as some unbelievable chords are possible in these tunings. After this, some definitive song examples from Hedges' work that show what you can be capable of with practice in these modes.

All tunings are low to high and come with examples of Hedges songs in which they are used. For tabs, many can be found at http://www.rootwitch.com. On unison notes on lower strings, the E string is usually tuned down while the A string is tuned up: for The 2nd Law or Aerial Boundaries, for instance, the E would tune down to A or C, while A would remain at its A or tune up to C. Unison notes on the middle two and top two strings are usually in perfect unison (no octaves).

1.) AADGBD - "The 2nd Law"
2.) CCDGAD - "Aerial Boundaries"
3.) DAEEAA - "All Along the Watchtower"
4.) Bb F Bb C F Bb - "Baal T'shuvah"
5.) CGDGAC - "Bensusan"
6.) BADGAD - "The Funky Avocado"
7.) AADF#AA - "Gospel"
8.) DADGCC - "Ritual Dance"
9.) DADGAD - "Ragamuffin"

Here are some of my personal favorite open tunings, similarly constructed to Hedges'. I have written songs in these tunings that I'll post up here sometime.

DADFGC
CGDEbGD
DGDEAC#

Now for uploads.

"Aerial Boundaries" - the title track off the album of the same name, this is the song that I most frequently cite as being the perfect blend of incredible technical dexterity, innovation, and compositional skill. A beautiful song that uses tapping, slapped harmonics, and hammer-ons and pull-offs with extensive miking and reverb effects, this is one man on one guitar sounding as if he were four, and the result is incredible. Hats off to anyone that can play this, although it's pretty **** impossible.

http://s41.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=0EQ6V4NOI9P5U02ED55H9NKWSZ

"Ragamuffin" - My personal favorite by Mr. Hedges, this song has got an awesome chorus riff that's really percussive and great. It also illustrates a lot of original ways to play in DADGAD tuning, which is normally the exclusive turf of Celtic guitarists.

http://s41.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=39XVH3RUEYWUL0YB8GSIH3B1NF

"Jitterboogie" - A flatpicked monstrosity with tons of cool rhythmic stuff.

http://s41.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=1HJ6JW2UY7I3802WADWPZEUSQV

"Gospel" - This song will make you smile. It's bouncy, percussive, and fun to listen to.

http://s41.yousendit.com/d.aspx?id=1YZI3CN3GZKMH03PIZM50B1RXS

Hedges' other work is widely variant. He's done outstandingly original covers of songs like "All Along the Watchtower" (the tuning for which I've provided above). There's a lot of New-Age-styled stuff utilizing harp guitar--a guitar with a harp neck with five harp strings. His other work is all over the map.

These tunings should inspire you to new modes in your acoustic playing, coupled with one the finest--perhaps THE finest--and most innovative modern acoustic artist that has ever lived. Have fun with the tunings and the songs.
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Old 05-24-2005, 02:21 PM   #2
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thank god, I thought no one would end my suffering
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Old 05-24-2005, 02:24 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Papa Shank
thank god, I thought no one would end my suffering
Instead of retarded jokes, maybe you should check out the songs. Just because I used a little unneccesary hyperbole in the intro to the post doesn't mean that someone won't appreciate this.
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Old 05-24-2005, 02:29 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Cain
Instead of retarded jokes, maybe you should check out the songs. Just because I used a little unneccesary hyperbole in the intro to the post doesn't mean that someone won't appreciate this.
Yeah but it doesn't mean I can't voice myself, if someone appreciates your thread fine but guess what, I don't. End of story.
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Old 05-24-2005, 02:30 PM   #5
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Yeah but it doesn't mean I can't voice myself, if someone appreciates your thread fine but guess what, I don't. End of story.
Ok, sorry to hear that. Didn't mean to make a thread that you didn't find useful.
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Old 05-24-2005, 02:32 PM   #6
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Ok, sorry to hear that. Didn't mean to make a thread that you didn't find useful.
bring it
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Old 05-24-2005, 02:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Papa Shank
bring it
Look, what exactly is the problem here? I don't think this is a useless spam thread. I thought that maybe some people would appreciate an introduction to this artist or at the very least some alternate tunings that they weren't exposed to. I'll edit out the stupid praise that my post is admittedly filled with if that's what the big deal is all about. But not to sound like a noob or anything, but why do you have to come and derail my thread with comments like this instead of simply not posting in it, if you don't feel like you want to make use of the information?
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Old 05-24-2005, 02:49 PM   #8
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Bumped just in case someone will find this to be useful rather than useless.
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Old 05-24-2005, 03:37 PM   #9
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kudos for knowing about michael hedges, my guitar teacher went to school with him.

edit : mind you, though, that there are other greats of the "hedges" school of guitar... Don Alder, Don Ross, Justin King, Preston Reed, and others...

www.donalder.com/da.wmv

cool song (also dagad I believe) if you're into the whole percussive-acoustic style : www.donalder.com/da.wmv

Last edited by Puzzle; 05-24-2005 at 03:40 PM.
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Old 05-24-2005, 03:38 PM   #10
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Holy shit. A Michael Hedges Thread.

I'm so sick of hearing about that Justin King guy.

Thank god someone else on this forum knows who Hedges is.
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Old 05-24-2005, 04:40 PM   #11
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I love Michael Hedges. I have those tracks already, but nice thread anyway.
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Old 05-24-2005, 05:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Shredder
Holy shit. A Michael Hedges Thread.

I'm so sick of hearing about that Justin King guy.

Thank god someone else on this forum knows who Hedges is.
Heh, nice. What stuff have you heard by him?
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Old 05-24-2005, 05:39 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The_Shredder
Holy shit. A Michael Hedges Thread.

I'm so sick of hearing about that Justin King guy.

Thank god someone else on this forum knows who Hedges is.
lol wut about me?

thxguyz
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Old 05-24-2005, 05:42 PM   #14
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Michael Hedges, Leo Kottke, and Phil Keaggy are the only acoustic guitarists I can listen to for extended periods of time.
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Old 05-24-2005, 05:48 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Cain
Heh, nice. What stuff have you heard by him?
- Quite a bit. I'm most familiar with his stuff from Oracle.

And Eggo, you don't count.
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Old 05-24-2005, 05:50 PM   #16
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Shredder, I'm actually kind of surprised you're a fan. Not that I'm accusing you of close-mindedness, but I've rarely seen you take to any artists outside of genres including Petrucci, Vai, etc.
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Old 05-24-2005, 05:57 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by knicks0929
Shredder, I'm actually kind of surprised you're a fan. Not that I'm accusing you of close-mindedness, but I've rarely seen you take to any artists outside of genres including Petrucci, Vai, etc.
I was surprised when I found out Eggo was a fan of Delerium too. It's a genre of music that doesn't involve a direct relation to Jazz, or Johnny Mac.
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Old 05-24-2005, 06:06 PM   #18
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wow...i need cd recommendations...quickly~!
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Old 05-24-2005, 06:11 PM   #19
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All those Windham Hill guys are awesome. Some of it is cheese, but Will Ackerman (who's the founder of Hedges' label, Windham Hill) gets up to even more lush and beautiful tunes than Hedges. Hedges is more like an acoustic rock star.

There's this other guy too, Bruce Becvar, who's been trapped in this "yoga music" thing where he'll write music in conjunction with psychiatrists used for relaxing disturbed or stressed patients, but his early stuff has massive guitar orchestration with lots of different acoustics playing interlocking parts. I thought I hit on something original when I wrote a song like that, but then I learned that he did it first.

Has anybody tried out the tunings? They were, after all, the point of the thread.
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Old 05-24-2005, 06:14 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by i2 enegade
wow...i need cd recommendations...quickly~!
I take it you like the songs. My reccommendation is definitely for "Aerial Boundaries," his most famous album, and then check out "Beyond Boundaries" which is a best-of with over sixteen great songs, including a cover of Frank Zappa's "Sofa No. 1." "Live on the Double Planet" is an awesome disc, mostly because you get to hear Hedges pulling all of his crazy complex stuff live with no assistance.

I unfortunately do not own any other albums of his besides those, although Oracle has a ton of great stuff on it. Hedges isn't one for filler, you're likely to enjoy anything you might find of his.
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Old 05-24-2005, 07:24 PM   #21
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hmm...thanks.

I'll definitely check them out.
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Old 05-25-2005, 10:08 AM   #22
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Bumped...this thread is worth a look guys.
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Old 05-25-2005, 11:10 AM   #23
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Quote:
3.) DAEEAA - "All Along the Watchtower"
I've been looking for that

Very nice Cain. It's great to see some other Michael Hedges fans. Amazing guitarist and fantastic thread.

Quote:
take it you like the songs. My reccommendation is definitely for "Aerial Boundaries,"
That's a great album
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Old 05-25-2005, 04:09 PM   #24
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I've been looking for that

Very nice Cain. It's great to see some other Michael Hedges fans. Amazing guitarist and fantastic thread.
Glad to hear it. I'll bump this one more time and let it die.
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Old 05-25-2005, 04:41 PM   #25
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Hedges has had a profound influence on my acoustic playing and compositions in general. Ragamuffin is a favourite of mine, too.
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Old 05-25-2005, 04:54 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Passion,Grace and Fire
Hedges has had a profound influence on my acoustic playing and compositions in general. Ragamuffin is a favourite of mine, too.
If I get my scanner working, I'll upload Stropes' tab. It's crazy hard, but fun.
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Old 05-25-2005, 05:42 PM   #27
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Thanks its nice to see some one on the forum who appreciates Michael Hedges, I was big fan of his and Will Ackerman with the Windham hill stuff, I saw Micheal and Leo Kottke in concert in the 1980s, that was a great show, Michael Hedges is a great showman, I really did not like his singing, he stopped playing the dynamic stuff, and he alternated intermental and vocal, the whole set, at the end he and Leo played together, Michael brought out the Harp guitar, true genus he really changed how an acoustic is played.

I worked up aerail boundaries and Rickovers dream, my two favorites off the first album, I had all the albums I could get, I only have Aerial Boundaries on CD now. Its a pitty that he died in the car accident, I was looking for more great music from him, I am glad I saw him when I had a chance.
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Old 05-25-2005, 06:17 PM   #28
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These Hedges songs are much appreciated. I happened to download a video from a link here awhile ago, figured I'd upload it to YSI for the sake of this thread. Merry Kwanza

http://s1.youshareit.com/files/19569290c91dac1523992cdd6f230ceb.html
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Old 05-25-2005, 11:07 PM   #29
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Thank you Calllisto Ashus, I saw Michael Hedges in concert and the video really brought back memories,

Lots of imaginary reps.
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Old 05-25-2005, 11:11 PM   #30
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Thank you Calllisto Ashus, I saw Michael Hedges in concert and the video really brought back memories,

Lots of imaginary reps.
That must have been quite the experience. When was that?

You must be older than me, since he died in '97.
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