Drop D tuning; Unchained Melody
Here’s a video of “Unchained Melody”, one of the prettiest tunes of my youth, and a short lesson on how it’s played in “Drop D” tuning. (This 3 minute lesson is a much-shortened version of what you’d get in a 10 minute “quick-take” lesson.)
“Drop D” tuning is a great way to begin to explore “alternate” tunings on the guitar. Standard tuning was designed to give total chromatic accessibility on the instrument. This means that, within any 5 fret area, you can reach every note of the chromatic scale. Alternate tunings often sacrifice a bit of that in order to get interesting modal sounds. In essence, the guitar can be tuned to an open chord (it would often be major, minor, or, as in the case of the popular “DADGAD” tuning, a suspended 4th tuning) so that, in the overtones and the open strings, you hear a particular underlying tonal coloration.
While “Drop D” tuning is just a slight step in that direction, it offers a rich, low D bass, which, used in combination with the other bass strings, frees up the left hand for more facility and ease. While doing this, it allows the player to retain most of the chord and scale shapes from standard tuning, making adjustments only on the low string. The video lesson pretty much speaks for itself, and I hope you enjoy the video performance as well. Here’s the performance:
And here’s the video lesson: