Lesson 123: Zen Guitar
What is Zen Guitar?
Zen Guitar is a concept/ philosophy invented by Philip Toshio Sudo. Philip Toshio Sudo was a Japanese/ American who has performed a lot as a street musician in New York. You may want to check out:
The Zen Guitar Tuning
The idea is to use an alternate ( alternative) tuning. The Zen Guitar tuning is DADAAD, low to high. This is a D power chord, which is neither major nor minor.
The nice thing about using a new tuning is that you have to start all over, from the beginning. You can't rely on standard chord or scale fingerings, but you have to find new ways to play in this tuning.
This means that everyone is a beginner. It is very easy to make music on the guitar in the Zen Guitar tuning. Even a person who has never touched a guitar before can just start jamming and making music right away. You can just strum all the open strings and it is a nice D5, a D power chord.
Some Chord Fingerings in the Zen Guitar Tuning
The next step is to find other chords by putting some fingers down on the fretboard.
A very easy and logical way to play in the Zen Guitar tuning is to use an easy fingering and move it up and down along the fretboard. One thing that sounds very good and works well is to let some open strings ring and let them be part of several chords. This is called using a drone - there will be more on this later in this lesson.
Let's take a look at a couple of particularly nice chord forms. In the Zen Guitar tuning, the first one below is a Dadd9 chord ( DDAEAD, low to high) and the second one is a Gadd9 chord ( GDGAAD, low to high).
By moving these fingerings up and down the fretboard/ neck, you will get a lot of interesting chords/ sounds. Just experiment, play around and when you find something nice, you can figure out what it is.
A personal favorite of mine is the third one above, which turns out to be a Bbmaj9 chord ( BbFCAD, low to high). It sounds very nice when arpeggiated. I use this chord in my song Sensei & Unsui:
Let's look at some more chord forms. In the Zen Guitar tuning, the first one below is a Bb major chord ( BbFD, low to high) and the second one is a D minor chord ( DAF, low to high). The third one is an F power chord ( FCF, low to high) and the fourth one is a D power chord ( DAD, low to high)
Some Scale Fingerings in the Zen Guitar Tuning
Playing scales can be a bit tricky in the Zen Guitar tuning. The first fingering below is a D major scale, the second one is a D Dorian minor scale and the third one is a D minor pentatonic scale.
In the Zen Guitar tuning, the scale below is a D Major scale. The tones on the 2nd/ A string are a b c# d e f# g a and the tones on the 1st/ D string are d e f# g a b c# d.
Playing in the Zen Guitar Tuning
The Zen Guitar tuning makes it easy to:
Drones in the Zen Guitar Tuning
A drone can be:
A Nice Little Melody
The melody below is writtten by Philip Toshio Sudo. You can hear him playing it at the end of his song Raise the Spirit, which can be found here.
Some Sound Files:
Some Sheet Music:
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