Exploration of unorthodox tunings and muscle memory practice for the electric guitar

Jones, LA 2019, Exploration of unorthodox tunings and muscle memory practice for the electric guitar , PhD thesis, University of Salford.

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Abstract

The following body of research focuses on addressing the use of alternate tunings and muscle memory practice for the electric guitar. An over-reliance on existing muscle memory is commonplace among guitarists and this is often seen as a catalyst by the player to seek out new material using different fretboard patterns and shapes . While this can be effective, it is crucial to realise that often it is the sounds generated by the muscle memory the player wishes to change, not the muscle memory itself. After all, muscle memory provides enormous technical advantages for the guitarist, such as facilitating the execution of fast single note passages or being able to draw upon a range of chord voicings with ease.

My research will demonstrate that by changing the tuning, not the muscle memory information, the player can in fact retain existing muscle memory while at the same time completely changing the harmonic, melodic and timbral implications of the sounds they are generating. Changing the tuning also causes the player to develop new muscle memory shapes and patterns in line with their own musical aesthetics. Indeed, should the player find themselves in the same situation with another tuning, there are virtually an infinite amount of alternatives they can try, each tuning being completely unique.

This portfolio also addresses issues surrounding notation for the guitar in relation to the use of alternate tunings and muscle memory. I will evaluate different notational methods that emphasise prescriptive and descriptive aspects and assess the most suitable methods for my own research.

The purpose of this research is:

  1. Create new harmonies, sounds and timbres that can be derived from unorthodox alternate tunings
  2. Examine the effects changing a tuning has on the application of muscle memory for guitarists
  3. Develop an appropriate method of notation for the above
My portfolio of recordings is comprised of three sections:
  1. A series of solo studies (track 1, disc 1)
  2. Early experimental improvisations (tracks 2-7, disc 1)
  3. A set of developed improvisations culminating in a summative improvisation for twelve guitars (tracks 1-7, disc 2).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Contributors: Williams, AE (Supervisor) and Dewhurst, R (Supervisor)
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media
Depositing User: LA Jones
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2019 12:52
Last Modified: 11 Mar 2019 01:38
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/49778

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