The resonance, bass response, and chord coloring possible with open tunings not only produce a lusher, more dynamic sound from your guitar, they also greatly expand your palette of creative options when composing original songs, arranging cover tunes, or just jamming with friends.
In this Open D edition of Acoustic Coffeehouse, Ellis Paul teaches you 64 open D chord shapes and voicings, which form 8 versatile chord scales in the tuning. You’ll be able to mix any combinations of them in your grooves and arrangements, you can strum or fingerpick them, and Ellis shows you how to easily embellish them to pull out harmony notes, guitar hooks, fills, and melody lines.
”Joni Mitchell, Steven Stills, Curtis Mayfield, Keith Richards, Mississippi John Hurt, Jimmy Page, Duane Allman, and Robert Johnson are just a few of the artists that have incorporated open tunings into their music. There are so many benefits to using an open tuning and I’ll demonstrate all of them in this Open D edition of Acoustic Coffeehouse.
We’ll explore the resonance of the droning strings in an open tuning; how open tunings simplify the neck of the guitar for chord shapes; how you can visualize chord formations more like a piano; how the harmony strings and octave strings are easy to access and ride against the resonance of the ringing strings; how bass lines are more resonant because the low E is tuned down to D, and how percussiveness is increased by the floppier tension on the down-tuned strings.”
In the first section of the course, Ellis guides you through a thorough primer on Open D tunings including What is an Open Tuning?, Benefits of Open Tunings, Open D Tuning, Major & Minor Chord Barre, Scales on All Six Strings, and Octave Shapes.
Chord scales and chord voicings are focused on in the second section of the course. For each of the Chord Scales, Ellis will teach you all of the scale’s chord shapes and then show you a variety of creative applications you can access within the shapes and scales.
In the third and final section, you’ll apply your Open D chord vocabulary and all of the creative applications by learning three full-length songs; Innocence and The Afterlife, Maria's Beautiful Mess, and The Storyteller's Suitcase. Ellis will first perform the song and then break down all of the parts (intro, verse, bridge, chorus, etc.) move by move.
Innocence and The Afterlife ”An explanation of The Innocence and the Afterlife. The song began as a guitar riff, which sounded to me like a Celtic story song, and its sadness suggestion a wake. That led me to the story of my father's passing and explaining the afterlife to my daughter. NOTE! I have taken the guitar down even one more half-step to open C#. Despite doing this, we will still refer to this as open D. I do this to get a better bass response, more percussive strings and a lower key to sing to! Open C# is C#-G#-C#-F-G#-C#, with the capo on the third fret here.”
Maria's Beautiful Mess ”Maria's Beautiful Mess is one of my most popular songs. Again, this song is in open C#, but all the lessons we learned in open D apply here. This song will give you a great skill set in open tunings if you master it. Don't forget to tune to open C#: C#-G#-C#-F-G#-C#. In the performance, you’ll hear a snare and kick drum effect I have by slapping on the body of the guitar.”
The Storyteller's Suitcase ”I wrote this song for other songwriters about the life and the adventures you have on the road and the people you meet along the way. The chorus has a very Celtic vibe to it, and I flare out my hands and stoke the strings with my nails to increase the brightness. Be also aware of the hammer-ons that drive the rhythm of the songs. Don't forget to tune to open C#: C#-G#-C#-F-G#-C#. Capo 5th fret.”
Ellis will explain and demonstrate all of the key concepts and approaches along the way. You’ll get standard notation and tabs for each of the performances, both of which are synced to the video. In addition, you’ll be able to loop or slow down any of the videos so that you can work with the lessons at your own pace.
Grab your guitar, tune to open D, and let’s hit the coffeehouse with Ellis Paul!