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  1. #1

    Major Thirds Tuning

    anyone experimented with Major Thirds Tuning?

    Major thirds tuning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I noticed Ralph Patt (vanilla book guy) uses it?

    anyone have some scale shapes in Major thirds tuning?

    and

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ralph_Patt

    "He invented major-thirds tuning under the inspiration of first the atonal music of Arnold Schoenberg and second the jazz of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman."

    any examples of how this would help with applying 3rds tuning to Coltrane?
    Last edited by bobsguitars09; 05-25-2013 at 09:56 PM.

  2. #2
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    Yup, it's awesome, but it's like a whole different instrument... I don't have enough time to bother!

  3. #3
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    For most part when you drift into land of alternative tunings your on your own and why doing it is also an great education in guitar and music theory to create resources for yourself.
    Last edited by docbop; 05-26-2013 at 11:24 AM.

  4. #4
    Ralph Patt

    Born 5 December 1929
    Kittanning, Pennsylvania
    Died 6 October 2010 (aged 80)
    Canby, Oregon

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by WesMan View Post
    Ralph Patt

    Born 5 December 1929
    Kittanning, Pennsylvania
    Died 6 October 2010 (aged 80)
    Canby, Oregon

    Didn't know Ralph had transitioned, I edited my post.

  6. #6
    a great loss. I wonder if he has any students floating around that have some of his knowledge?

  7. #7
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    Just made a post about this with my thoughts on M3 tuning in another thread:

    I tried both the symmetrical P4 and M3 tunings for a few months each when I was feeling in a rut artistically. What jster says is very accurate. I think if you are primarily interested in being a burning bebop or modern jazz player, the two tunings are really shortcuts for awesomeness.

    Having experimented with both, I think the M3 tuning is actually superior for single-line playing because you have all 12 keys available to you within a 4-fret span. Imagine if the Leavitt system worked without stretches, and you have something of an idea. There are also, then, only 4 possible fingerings for every melodic pattern depending on which of the four fingers on the left hand you start with. It really is nice, and cuts out a lot of the practicing you have to do. On Leavitt's system there are 24 possible one-octave major scale fingerings. In Ralph Patt's M3 tuning system there are 4.

    The huge downside of both systems is that you lose the great barre, and thusly your chord/melody style playing is severelyrestricted. You can certainly play some things that sound nice, and you can develop a concept that is different than traditional chord melody, but your ability to maintain bass/harmony/melody at the same time suffers. I love this style of playing enough that I couldn't stick with either symmetrical tuning.

    I've also found that as I'm getting older I'm more and more of a traditionalist and want to learn older music and be connected to the past. Changing the guitar tuning restricts your ability to learn a lot of the classical/jazz repertoire. If you're more of an artistic maverick than me, it might be what you're looking for.

    The experiment did give me an appreciation for standard tuning and what an elegant solution lowering the B and E strings a half-step really was to opening up the instrument for more orchestral arrangements.

    do any learning systems benefit from 4ths tuning?

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    I tried both the symmetrical P4 and M3 tunings for a few months each [snip]

    The huge downside of both systems is that you lose the great barre, and thusly your chord/melody style playing is severelyrestricted. You can certainly play some things that sound nice, and you can develop a concept that is different than traditional chord melody, but your ability to maintain bass/harmony/melody at the same time suffers. I love this style of playing enough that I couldn't stick with either symmetrical tuning.

    I've also found that as I'm getting older I'm more and more of a traditionalist and want to learn older music and be connected to the past. Changing the guitar tuning restricts your ability to learn a lot of the classical/jazz repertoire. If you're more of an artistic maverick than me, it might be what you're looking for.

    The experiment did give me an appreciation for standard tuning and what an elegant solution lowering the B and E strings a half-step really was to opening up the instrument for more orchestral arrangements.
    Patt took six months of full-time practice to become professionally competent in major-thirds tuning. How much time did you spend?

    Patt's website has scores of recordings of his playing jazz standards in M3 tuning. Would you please discuss one of these recordings and explain why you think that Patt's playing suffers from the faults (that you claim to be associated with M3 tuning)?
    -"your chord/melody style playing is severely restricted"
    -"restricts your ability to learn a lot of the classical/jazz repertoire"

    Patt noted that M3 tuning allows the playing of sevenths chords within 4 frets, which should be a considerable advantage for a jazz guitarist, who has trouble simultaneously covering 6 frets. Playing 7ths in closed position is "traditional chord melody", and is the basis for discussions of music theory and practice outside of guitars with Spanish-tuning.

    Patt's website focuses on 4-string chords for jazz guitarists. If you want to play around a campfire and want six-string chords to strum (in voicings more consistent than Spanish tuning), you can look at the chord guides by William Sethares and by Andreas Griewank, which are also linked from the Wikipedia article on Major-thirds tuning.
    Major thirds tuning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Cheers,
    -Kiefer

  9. #9
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    Kiefer, do you have any examples of Patt playing in a chord/mel style? I've never heard him do it. The only clips I've heard are the ones on his website, and he's never doing unaccompanied solo work.

    I worked with M3 tuning for between 2-3 months, enough time to try to work up some short chord/mel arrangements and decide the system wasn't worth pursuing for me.

    Do you use 3rds tuning? Any clips of you demoing chord/mel playing with the tuning?

  10. #10
    I play a straight A major chord like this: 5x7644

    And A minor like this: 5x7544

    So I lose that low fifth. Not sure that is any real loss anyway.

    ecj, do you have any other specific chords that you feel you couldn't play where you felt the loss was greatest? I'd actually pay you for a list.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    Do you use 3rds tuning? Any clips of you demoing chord/mel playing with the tuning?
    You shall laugh when you read this!


    I am teaching myself guitar with M3 tuning G#-C-E-G#-C-E. I knew that my daughter's birth (and my professional duties) would mean that I would have little time to practice, and so I chose the tuning that would make learning the fretboard and learning basic chords the simplest.

    (I had heard that "you have no idea what your life will be like after she is born", and I am glad that I chose M3 tuning even as an ignoramus.)

    I shall be happy when I can entertain my daughter and wife.

    I have a cheap Russian classical guitar that I tune in a variant on English open-C tuning (CEGCEG), E-G-C-E-G-C-E, which my daughter can pluck and strum. It's close to my tuning, of course. It's fun to strum open chords. I'm hoping that my wife shall strum with me---and perhaps my daughter when she's 8 or so. Now, she is likely to bite the guitar!

    I warned you that you would laugh!


    Cheers!
    -Kiefer

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by jster View Post
    I play a straight A major chord like this: 5x7644

    And A minor like this: 5x7544

    So I lose that low fifth. Not sure that is any real loss anyway.

    ecj, do you have any other specific chords that you feel you couldn't play where you felt the loss was greatest? I'd actually pay you for a list.
    Hey jster - those are the voicings I'm talking about. You lose the ability to sustain a low root note on the 5th or 6th strings and easily finger the 5th or root note above it on the high strings. I didn't say you can't voice the chord, it's just much harder to keep everything together, IMO.

    If you watch Joe Pass, Paco de Lucia, Segovia, most great unaccompanied players in different styles on the guitar, they rely extremely heavily on the great barre. It's just an elegant solution, and probably the reason that the guitar is structured the way it is in terms of tuning.

    Doing something like playing a descending Bb minor scale with a sustained bass note ringing on the 5th fret, 6th string is incredibly difficult. I found that my attempts to play chord/mel ended up sounding really broken up, and I lost a lot of fluidity.

    I abandoned it pretty quick after making this determination for myself, so I'm more than willing to eat my words if there are some really nice examples out there. I just haven't heard it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiefer.Wolfowitz View Post
    You shall laugh when you read this!


    I am teaching myself guitar with M3 tuning G#-C-E-G#-C-E. I knew that my daughter's birth (and my professional duties) would mean that I would have little time to practice, and so I chose the tuning that would make learning the fretboard and learning basic chords the simplest.

    (I had heard that "you have no idea what your life will be like after she is born", and I am glad that I chose M3 tuning even as an ignoramus.)

    I shall be happy when I can entertain my daughter and wife.

    I have a cheap Russian classical guitar that I tune in a variant on English open-C tuning (CEGCEG), E-G-C-E-G-C-E, which my daughter can pluck and strum. It's close to my tuning, of course. It's fun to strum open chords. I'm hoping that my wife shall strum with me---and perhaps my daughter when she's 8 or so. Now, she is likely to bite the guitar!

    I warned you that you would laugh!


    Cheers!
    -Kiefer
    Congratulations on the new addition to the family!

    It's all about enjoyment in the end. I was just curious to see if you knew of folks who are using the M3 thing for serious solo guitar playing. I was torn about giving it up, because learning melodic things is so freakin' easy it's unbelievable. I just felt like the trade-off wasn't worth it for me.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    Congratulations on the new addition to the family!

    It's all about enjoyment in the end. I was just curious to see if you knew of folks who are using the M3 thing for serious solo guitar playing. I was torn about giving it up, because learning melodic things is so freakin' easy it's unbelievable. I just felt like the trade-off wasn't worth it for me.
    Thank you very much for your good wishes, and for tolerating my abrupt questions!

    Besides Patt, there are two others who have posted recordings of their playing (known to me):

    Patrick Zemb independently invented M3 tuning, somewhat later than Ralph Patt. (I think Patt and he corresponded.) He has about 6 recordings at his site:
    La Guitare #5 par la diagionale des quartes, page D1 (en Francais)
    Google Translate ("English" via Google translator)
    In the first recording, he is playing with a bassist.

    Ole Kirkeby has posted Guitar Pro 6 files along with pdfs, etc. of many contemporary jazz standards at his website on M3 tuning, for solos
    M3 Guitar 3.0 -- Solo Arrangements
    and for duets:
    M3 Guitar 3.0 -- Duets
    To hear Ole Kirkeby playing, please look at his collaborations:
    Music Profile for m3roadworx - Kompoz.com

    Kirkeby and Zemb's websites' homepages are listed at the Wikipedia article on major thirds tuning (noted once before on this thread)
    Major thirds tuning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    (There was also a website of a fellow offering lessons in M3 tuning, without any recordings, but I couldn't find it now.)

    Best regards,
    --Kiefer

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post

    Doing something like playing a descending Bb minor scale with a sustained bass note ringing on the 5th fret, 6th string is incredibly difficult. I found that my attempts to play chord/mel ended up sounding really broken up, and I lost a lot of fluidity.
    Do you mean 6th fret?

  16. #16
    I just checked this out on the guitar. So for Bbminor, you have a barre from the E to the C string. You can then catch the root on the C string 10th fret and run down the scale from there two octaves to the ringing bass.

    More generally, you don't lose the great barre. (Love the name by the way!) You lose a great barre and pick up another.

    Even more generally, this is something that has really been a pleasant surprise. When I started two years ago, I thought that I was definitely going to pay a price in the chords department. But that never happened. Rather some things became a little harder. Other things became easier. Overall, more things became possible because of the greater range. I was really surprised. That is why I said I would pay for a list of problem chords/concepts because I haven't really found that to be true. The only thing that I would say is that you can't play a Joe Pass arrangement exactly as he played it. But I am convinced that one could come up with something equally musical and chalk full of 6 note chords.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by jster
    Do you mean 6th fret?
    Woops. Yes, the 6th.

    Quote Originally Posted by jster
    I just checked this out on the guitar. So for Bbminor, you have a barre from the E to the C string. You can then catch the root on the C string 10th fret and run down the scale from there two octaves to the ringing bass.

    More generally, you don't lose the great barre. (Love the name by the way!) You lose a great barre and pick up another.

    Even more generally, this is something that has really been a pleasant surprise. When I started two years ago, I thought that I was definitely going to pay a price in the chords department. But that never happened. Rather some things became a little harder. Other things became easier. Overall, more things became possible because of the greater range. I was really surprised. That is why I said I would pay for a list of problem chords/concepts because I haven't really found that to be true. The only thing that I would say is that you can't play a Joe Pass arrangement exactly as he played it. But I am convinced that one could come up with something equally musical and chalk full of 6 note chords.


    I see what you're saying, but I really feel like making the #5 and b9 the notes easily accessibly by barreing from the 6th string ends up hampering your ability to play smoothly in the conventional realm of Western tonal music. I'd be interested to hear you try to adapt a classical pieces or Pass transcription to your tuning system - I couldn't get it together myself and gave up.

    I was just sharing my experiences with it, and some food for thought. A lot of times these discussions can end up sounding like conversations between evangelical proponents of religious faiths, and I think it's important for people (especially new players) to understand that there are pros and cons for different systems.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiefer.Wolfowitz View Post
    Thank you very much for your good wishes, and for tolerating my abrupt questions!

    Besides Patt, there are two others who have posted recordings of their playing (known to me):

    Patrick Zemb independently invented M3 tuning, somewhat later than Ralph Patt. (I think Patt and he corresponded.) He has about 6 recordings at his site:
    La Guitare #5 par la diagionale des quartes, page D1 (en Francais)
    Google Translate ("English" via Google translator)
    In the first recording, he is playing with a bassist.

    Ole Kirkeby has posted Guitar Pro 6 files along with pdfs, etc. of many contemporary jazz standards at his website on M3 tuning, for solos
    M3 Guitar 3.0 -- Solo Arrangements
    and for duets:
    M3 Guitar 3.0 -- Duets
    To hear Ole Kirkeby playing, please look at his collaborations:
    Music Profile for m3roadworx - Kompoz.com

    Kirkeby and Zemb's websites' homepages are listed at the Wikipedia article on major thirds tuning (noted once before on this thread)
    Major thirds tuning - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    (There was also a website of a fellow offering lessons in M3 tuning, without any recordings, but I couldn't find it now.)

    Best regards,
    --Kiefer
    Thanks for sharing, Kiefer.

    As further food for thought, visit the Ole Kirkeby kompoz.com site you posted, scroll down about half way, and watch the solo vid of Dolphin Dance that he has up. That's kind of what I'm talking about. It's a nice arrangement, and he's a good player, but that looks like an incredibly difficult series of fingerings and a really tough arrangement. It ends up sounding pretty choppy because few of the transitions are nice and smooth like you'll see when you watch someone like Martin Taylor and his first finger is just barreing everything in site very comfortably.

  19. #19
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    Thanks for sharing, Kiefer.

    As further food for thought, visit the Ole Kirkeby kompoz.com site you posted, scroll down about half way, and watch the solo vid of Dolphin Dance that he has up. That's kind of what I'm talking about. It's a nice arrangement, and he's a good player, but that looks like an incredibly difficult series of fingerings and a really tough arrangement. It ends up sounding pretty choppy because few of the transitions are nice and smooth like you'll see when you watch someone like Martin Taylor and his first finger is just barreing everything in site very comfortably.
    Perhaps we could examine one of his tabs (generated with Guitar Pro 6, which I cannot access on my Ubuntu) and compare it with a standard-tuning tab?

    I was thinking that minor-thirds tuning would allow more barring, but for triads inversions would require muting a string (but for seventh chords would be simple).
    Last edited by Kiefer.Wolfowitz; 09-13-2013 at 05:39 AM. Reason: I was thinking of triads, not sevenths chords, for which minor thirds tuning would allow simple inversions

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    Woops. Yes, the 6th.



    I see what you're saying, but I really feel like making the #5 and b9 the notes easily accessibly by barreing from the 6th string ends up hampering your ability to play smoothly in the conventional realm of Western tonal music. I'd be interested to hear you try to adapt a classical pieces or Pass transcription to your tuning system - I couldn't get it together myself and gave up.

    I was just sharing my experiences with it, and some food for thought. A lot of times these discussions can end up sounding like conversations between evangelical proponents of religious faiths, and I think it's important for people (especially new players) to understand that there are pros and cons for different systems.[/COLOR]
    I don't think I'll be playing much classical in the future. I took a summer of lessons once for fun, and it was fun.

    As for jazz, I have only worked on maybe two chord solos since I started, but I didn't see any major problems. Of course the #5 and b9 are pretty well suited to Monk tunes.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    One final point about P4 vs. M3 that hasn't been touched on is arpeggios. For P4, and standard tuning, but not for M3, in addition to regular vertical arps, there are also diagonal arps that are made up of four note boxes. What is so amazing about them is that unlike vertical arps, the relation between a four note box and the next four note box in the cycle or moving step wise is crystal clear. Playing through the changes is super easy. Not only do I know eactly where the 1357 are for the chord I'm on, I know exactly where they are for the next chord. And that holds true even if I run up or down and octave or two. I can't emphasize this enough. In standard tuning, nobody uses these because they are an additional headache because of the G-B string wrinkle. But for P4, they are the single best thing about the tuning.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by jster View Post
    I don't think I'll be playing much classical in the future. I took a summer of lessons once for fun, and it was fun.

    As for jazz, I have only worked on maybe two chord solos since I started, but I didn't see any major problems. Of course the #5 and b9 are pretty well suited to Monk tunes.

    --------------------------------------------------------

    One final point about P4 vs. M3 that hasn't been touched on is arpeggios. For P4, and standard tuning, but not for M3, in addition to regular vertical arps, there are also diagonal arps that are made up of four note boxes. What is so amazing about them is that unlike vertical arps, the relation between a four note box and the next four note box in the cycle or moving step wise is crystal clear. Playing through the changes is super easy. Not only do I know eactly where the 1357 are for the chord I'm on, I know exactly where they are for the next chord. And that holds true even if I run up or down and octave or two. I can't emphasize this enough. In standard tuning, nobody uses these because they are an additional headache because of the G-B string wrinkle. But for P4, they are the single best thing about the tuning.
    Christopher Calloway Brooks prepared illustrations of such P4 patterns

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Kiefer.Wolfowitz View Post
    Christopher Calloway Brooks prepared illustrations of such P4 patterns

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater
    what is he trying to show here?

  23. #23
    I asked this question in the 4ths thread also.

    can anyone give an example of how 3rds
    tuning would affect playing bluegrass? What

    are the disadvantages ? Are there any
    advantages? pertaining to playing bluegrass with 3rds tuning ?

  24. #24
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    For bluegrass? Yikes - you'll lose all your typical open cowboy chords. Those are like the heart and soul of the music.

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by bobsguitars09 View Post
    I asked this question in the 4ths thread also.

    can anyone give an example of how 3rds
    tuning would affect playing bluegrass? What

    are the disadvantages ? Are there any
    advantages? pertaining to playing bluegrass with 3rds tuning ?
    It would be natural to have an ensemble with different M3 tunings, with 6 string guitars, to cover high and low tones.

    Otherwise, it may depends on the player, more than the tuning.

    Somebody once declared that new standard tuning is bad for bluegrass.
    ;D
    Robert Fripp and his Guitar Craft students play the Wabash Cannonball with a nearly all perfect-fifths tuning, called New Standard Tuning. Watch at c. 4:45 minutes:seconds, please:


    A member of the California Guitar Trio is a fan of bluegrass, I think.

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Kiefer.Wolfowitz View Post
    Christopher Calloway Brooks prepared illustrations of such P4 patterns

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...type=3&theater
    No. Those are scales. I was specifically making a point about arpeggios.

  27. #27

    M3 tuning pamphlet (pdf file)

    I created a signature, appended hereafter, which lists Wikipedia articles of interest to me, in particular a pamphlet on M3 tuning, which may interest some.
    Cheers,
    Kiefer Wolfowitz

  28. #28
    on Ralph Patt's page he says to tune

    6 (string)
    6th low E; 5th Ab; 4th C; 3rd E; 2nd Ab; 1st C;
    The Major 3rd Tuning

    on wiki it says
    G# C E G# C E what gives??
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...rds_tuning.png

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by bobsguitars09 View Post
    on Ralph Patt's page he says to tune

    6 (string)
    6th low E; 5th Ab; 4th C; 3rd E; 2nd Ab; 1st C;
    The Major 3rd Tuning

    on wiki it says
    G# C E G# C E what gives??
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...rds_tuning.png
    G# (G sharp) and Ab (A flat) are enharmonically equivalent, as stated in Wikipedia's article.

    To be tuned in an M3 tuning, a steel-string guitar with a truss rod can tolerate open strings pitched between low C to high Ab=G#, which is nine pitches in M3 tuning. Thus, there are four M3 tunings with the same pitch classes, beginning with either C, E, G#=Ab, or C.

    Because of the regularity and repetitiveness of M3 tuning, it is easy to play each of the four tunings, simply by shifting either 0, 4, 8, or 12 frets (from your favorite M3 tuning). Kirkeby and Wikipedia give the G#-E M3 tuning; Patt the E-C on 6 strings. (Patt played with 8 strings pitched E-Ab.)
    Last edited by Kiefer.Wolfowitz; 05-30-2013 at 12:35 PM. Reason: spelling, links
    Kiefer Wolfowitz

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by bobsguitars09 View Post
    on Ralph Patt's page he says to tune

    6 (string)
    6th low E; 5th Ab; 4th C; 3rd E; 2nd Ab; 1st C;
    The Major 3rd Tuning

    on wiki it says
    G# C E G# C E what gives??
    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...rds_tuning.png
    I've switched to the low E on my (six-string) Ovation so that the tuning covers the low-E of standard tuning (and the high-E on frets 5-8 and higher notes through frets 9-20).

    My switch was prompted by my purchase of a Parker MaxxFly PDF105, which has 22 frets and a double cutaway, which has enough high notes for me!
    Last edited by Kiefer.Wolfowitz; 09-05-2013 at 04:39 AM. Reason: remove aside on practice-amplifier Vox VT20+ with acoustic simulation, etc., for my Parker's piezo and humbuckers
    Kiefer Wolfowitz

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