Adventures in Spanish

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Revision as of 05:34, 10 March 2008 by Johnm (talk | contribs) (Adding artist and songs to list)
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Sometimes referred to as open G or open A tuning, Spanish tuning is perhaps better viewed in terms of the relationship of the strings to the root pitch on the 5th string:

6th string=5th
5th string=Root
4th string=5th
3rd string=Root
2nd string=3rd
1st string=5th

The root, 3rd and 5th are the notes of the major scale that make up a major chord for whatever key you are playing in: in A, they would be A, C# and E. So if you are tuned to Spanish at A, playing the top 5 open strings will sound an A major chord. The pitches you are tuned to - EAEAC#E - are actually the same as a regular A chord in standard tuning. If you tune to G, the strings are tuned DGDGBD. Whatever pitch you tune to, the relationship between the strings will always stay the same: 5R5R3R.

As with its sibling, Vestapol tuning, what makes Spanish convenient as a name is the lack of confusion between the actual key the song might sound in and the relationship of the intervals between strings in the tuning. Open Ab sounds like a complicated tuning, but not if its just Spanish tuning pitched at Ab.

A note on tuning: Many guitarists prefer not to tune up to A in Spanish, since it exerts more tension on the neck, and therefore tune to G and use a capo as needed. We wouldn't recommend leaving your guitar tuned up to A, but most guitars should be able to handle the stress of tuning up to that pitch temporarily. You may notice some string breakage on occasion. While we are not dealing with slide tunes here, those songs in particular can benefit from the higher tension of tuning up to A.

Here's a growing list of songs that are played in Spanish tuning. These are all songs played without slide. We have left out slide and Delta players (mostly), as the list would grow exponentially.

Blind Joe Taggart
Been Listening All The Day
C & O Blues
Goin' To Rest Where Jesus Is
I've Crossed the Separation Line (with Josh White in Vestapol)
The Storm Is Passing Over
There's a Hand Writing on the Wall (with Josh White in Vestapol)

Blind Roosevelt Graves
Woke Up This Morning With My Mind Standing On Jesus
I Shall Not Be Moved
I'll Be Rested When The Roll Is Called

Buddy Boy Hawkins
A Rag
Awful Fix
Jailhouse Fire Blues
Snatch It Back
Voice Throwin' Blues

Clifford Gibson
Bad Luck Dice
Beat You Doing It
Brooklyn Blues
Hard Headed Blues
Levee Camp Moan
Society Blues
Stop Your Rambling
Tired of Being Mistreated parts 1 & 2

Dr. Ross
Good Things Blues
My Be-bop Gal
Shake A My Hand
Polly Put the Kettle On

Ed Bell
Snigglin' Blues (Barefoot Bill)
Barefoot Bill's Hard Luck Blues (Barefoot Bill)
Big Rock Jail (Barefoot Bill)
One More Time (Barefoot Bill)
Bad Boy (Barefoot Bill)

Elizabeth Cotten
Jesus Is Tenderly Calling
The Wreck Of The Old 97
Til We Meet Again
When I Get Home

Emry Arthur
She Lied to Me

Etta Baker
Lost John

Furry Lewis
Black Gipsy Blues
Furry's Blues
Good Looking Girl Blues
I Will Turn Your Money Green
Kassie Jones Parts 1 & 2
Rock Island Blues

Henry Townsend
Don't Love That Woman

Herman E. Johnson
You Don't Know My Mind

Ishmon Bracey
Suitcase Full of Blues

J. D. Short
Barefoot Blues
Snake Doctor Blues

J.W. Warren
Careless Love
A Long Old Lane

Jack Kelly and Will Batts
61 Highway Blues
Country Woman

Joe Callicott
France Chance
Roll And Tumble

Poor Howard

Li'l Son Jackson
Gamblers Blues
Cairo Blues

Mance Lipscomb
Willy, Poor Boy

Marshall Owens
Try Me One More Time
Wild Ox Moan

Memphis Minnie & Kansas Joe McCoy
Joilet Bound
What's the Matter with the Mill

Milton Sparks w/Walter Davis, piano
Erie Train Blues

Mississippi John Hurt
Boys, You're Welcome

Peg Leg Howell
Ball and Chain Blues
Broke and Hungry Blues
Coal Man Blues
Rolling Mill Blues
Tishimingo Blues

Pete Harris
Square Dance Calls

Robert Pete Williams
Mississippi Heavy Water Blues
Dyin' Soul
I Got The Blues So Bad
Sinner Don't You Know
I Want To Die Easy
Lord I Done You Wrong
All Out And Down

Teddy Darby
Built Down On The Ground

R.L. Burnside
Long Haired Doney

Smokey Babe
Boogie Woogie Rag

Skip James
Special Rider Blues

William and Versey Smith
Everybody Help the Boys Come Home
I Believe I'll Go Back Home
When That Great Ship Went Down
Sinner You'll Need King Jesus

Willie Doss
Coal Black Mare
Hobo Blues

Have a song to add to the list? Go to original forum thread