Learn Four Classical and Traditional Songs in Open Tunings – Acoustic Guitar


In previous posts, we have explored the use of tunings by singer-songwriters and blues guitarists. This time we’ll check out some classical and traditional instrumentals in DADGAD and open-G tunings: four approachable pieces that will be great additions to your fingerstyle repertoire.

Check out more articles on open and alternate tunings here.

J.S. Bach’s ‘Minuet in D Minor’ in DADGAD Tuning

Every guitarist should learn to play a little Bach. Considered one of the greatest composers of all time, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750) defines the Baroque style, and his contrapuntal and motivic writing was revolutionary at the time. 

Bach wrote the “Minuet in D Minor” as part of a collection of compositions known as Notebook for Anna Magdalena Bach. Originally written for harpsichord, the piece has been frequently transcribed for guitar. Learn Teja Gerken’s arrangement at the link below:

‘Spanish Fandango’: A 19th-Century Acoustic Classic in Open-G Tuning

Perhaps the original exponent of the British guitar invasion, Henry Worrall scored his biggest hit with “Spanish Fandango,” a bright melody in triple meter, played in open-G tuning. The piece was originally published in 6/8, but I’ve notated the main theme here in 3/4, which many guitarists find easier to read. Clink on the link below for the notation and a video lesson by Steve James.

A Traditional Hymn in DADGAD Tuning

In 1984, Steve Baughman was putting himself through college, working as a security guard in an old folks’ home, when he heard one of the residents play “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” on the piano. Baughman was struck by the bombastic quality of this old Charles Wesley hymn, which he captures nicely in his arrangement for solo guitar. See the link below for the full performance notes, plus notation and a video demo.

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‘The Choice Wife’: A Celtic Classic by Any Name

Traditional Celtic melodies like “The Choice Wife” are as varied in their titles as in their interpretations. In his arrangement for solo guitar, Petteway strikes a good balance between nailing all the traditional mannerisms and putting his own spin on the music. As such, it represents an excellent introduction to fingerstyle Celtic guitar—and a sweet selection to add to your repertoire.

You might also like Celtic Songs for Fingerstyle Guitar, available at store.acousticguitar.com.

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