Monday, June 18, 2007

Stupidest Guitar Chord: D# minor

I love the Beatles' song, "I'm Only Sleeping", especially the very first chord, played with a beautiful, exaggerated "up-stroke" for emphasis. Strictly speaking, listening to the recording, the chord is a D# minor, but a guitar just ain't made to play that! For a guitarist, a D#m is a pretty stupid chord.

Why? Because E minor sounds so much better! The open strings allow it to ring long and full, using the lowest note possible in standard tuning. And it's easier to play! And it's only a half-step away! A mere semi-tone!

So either George Martin altered the speed of the recording, or maybe the guitars were tuned down a half step. But either way, nobody was playing a D#m on their guitar that day. The Beatles weren't stupid.

So you shouldn't be, either. But it's a pain to detune your guitar just to play along, right? Thankfully, there's an easier way: Audacity, a free audio editor for Linux, can do magic for the budding guitarist. It can change the pitch of a song without changing its tempo. Conversely, it can slow the tempo without changing the pitch, which is really handy for figuring out solos. What was impossible with analog recordings is now amazingly simple with digital audio.

Nobody should be forced to play D# minor.