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What type of tuning is Come As You Are by Nirvana? – Western Musical Instruments

What type of tuning is Come As You Are by Nirvana?

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What type of tuning is Come As You Are by Nirvana?

‘Come As You Are’ is one of Nirvana’s most popular and enduring songs, released in 1991 as part of their album ‘Nevermind’. The song’s unique and memorable riff, catchy chorus, and powerful lyrics have made it a staple of rock music and a beloved anthem for generations of fans. But what type of tuning was used to create this iconic sound? In this article, we’ll explore the different tunings that have been used to play ‘Come As You Are’, and try to uncover the mystery behind the song’s signature sound. So grab your guitar and let’s dive in!

Quick Answer:
“Come As You Are” by Nirvana is a grunge song that features a heavy use of distortion and dissonance. The song’s guitar riff is played in dropped D tuning, which is a technique that lowers the pitch of the guitar’s sixth string by a whole step. This gives the riff a darker and more ominous sound, and contributes to the overall feeling of dissonance in the song. The song’s vocals are also sung in a plaintive and melancholic style, which adds to the overall emotional impact of the song. Overall, “Come As You Are” is a classic example of the grunge sound that emerged in the early 1990s, and its use of dropped D tuning is a key part of its distinctive sound.

The importance of tuning in music

How tuning affects the sound of a guitar

Guitar tuning plays a crucial role in shaping the overall sound of a musical piece. It influences the harmony, melody, and timbre of the instrument, affecting the way it blends with other instruments and the human voice.

The following factors are affected by guitar tuning:

  1. Harmonics: Tuning affects the natural harmonics of the guitar, which are the frequencies produced when specific points on the strings are touched or plucked. The harmonics determine the overall timbre and character of the guitar’s sound.
  2. Intervals: Guitar tuning determines the intervals between the strings, which affect the way chords and scales are formed. Different tunings produce unique chord voicings and melodic structures, which can greatly impact the composition’s harmonic progression.
  3. Intonation: Correct tuning ensures that the strings are in tune with each other and with the musical notes they represent. Poor intonation can result in dissonant and discordant sounds, which can hinder the overall musical experience.
  4. Playability: Proper tuning makes it easier for the musician to play and manipulate the strings, allowing for smoother transitions between notes and chords. Different tunings may require adjustments to playing techniques, such as finger placement and strumming patterns.
  5. Dynamics: Guitar tuning can also affect the dynamic range of the instrument, influencing the volume and intensity of the sound. Certain tunings may be better suited for soft, delicate passages, while others may lend themselves to loud, aggressive playing.

In summary, guitar tuning plays a critical role in shaping the sound of the instrument and the music it produces. It influences various aspects of the music, including harmonics, intervals, intonation, playability, and dynamics, and can greatly impact the overall musical experience.

The role of tuning in different genres of music

In music, tuning refers to the process of adjusting the pitch of an instrument to a specific frequency or key. The role of tuning in different genres of music varies, as each genre has its own unique characteristics and requirements.

Classical music, for example, typically uses equal temperament tuning, which ensures that each semitone is tuned to a frequency ratio of 1:12th. This allows for a high degree of accuracy and consistency in pitch, which is essential for the complex harmonies and counterpoint found in classical music.

In contrast, rock music often uses alternative tunings, such as drop D or open D tuning, which lower the pitch of the strings to create a heavier, more aggressive sound. This type of tuning is commonly used in Nirvana’s music, including the song “Come As You Are.”

Jazz music also often uses alternative tunings, such as the use of open strings and microtones, to create a unique sound and expressiveness. This allows for more creative improvisation and exploration of different sounds and effects.

Overall, the role of tuning in different genres of music is to enhance the expressiveness and unique characteristics of the music, and to provide a foundation for the complex harmonies and rhythms that define each genre.

Nirvana’s unique tuning in Come As You Are

Key takeaway: Guitar tuning plays a crucial role in shaping the sound of the instrument and the music it produces. Different genres of music use various tunings to enhance the expressiveness and unique characteristics of the music. Nirvana’s song “Come As You Are” features a unique tuning that sets it apart from other songs in their repertoire, and its exact tuning remains a subject of much debate and speculation among music historians and fans.

The song’s distinctive sound

Come As You Are, a classic grunge song by Nirvana, is known for its distinctive sound that sets it apart from other rock songs. One of the key elements that contribute to this sound is the song’s unique tuning. In this section, we will explore the distinctive sound of Come As You Are and how its tuning contributes to it.

The song’s tuning is a combination of drop D tuning and a slight detuning of the sixth string, resulting in a D5 chord. This creates a dark and heavy sound that is characteristic of grunge music. The use of this tuning gives the song a sense of tension and dissonance, which is reflected in the lyrics and the overall mood of the song.

Moreover, the distinctive sound of the song is also due to the use of feedback and distortion, which were integral to the grunge sound. Nirvana’s use of these effects, combined with the unique tuning, creates a raw and intense sound that has made Come As You Are one of the most iconic rock songs of all time.

In addition to the tuning and effects, the song’s distinctive sound is also due to the interplay between the instruments. The combination of Kurt Cobain’s vocals, Krist Novoselic’s bass, and Dave Grohl’s drums creates a dynamic and complex sound that is both energetic and melancholic. The song’s distinctive sound has inspired countless musicians and has had a lasting impact on the music industry as a whole.

Identifying the tuning used in the song

Nirvana’s song “Come As You Are” features a unique tuning that sets it apart from other songs in their repertoire. The specific tuning used in the song has been a topic of much discussion among music fans and scholars. In order to identify the tuning used in the song, one must take into account several factors, including the pitch of the notes played and the chord progression used throughout the song.

One method for identifying the tuning is to listen to the song’s opening chords and pay attention to the interval between the first and second notes played. The interval between the first and second notes played in the opening chord progression is commonly believed to be a major second, which suggests that the song is tuned to standard tuning. However, this method is not foolproof, as other songs in Nirvana’s repertoire use the same chord progression but are tuned differently.

Another method for identifying the tuning is to use a tool such as a digital tuner or a software program that can analyze the pitch of the notes played in the song. By inputting the notes played in the song, one can determine the pitch of each note and use this information to calculate the tuning used in the song. This method is more precise than relying on the opening chord progression alone, but it requires access to specialized equipment or software.

In conclusion, identifying the exact tuning used in “Come As You Are” by Nirvana requires careful analysis of the pitch of the notes played and the chord progression used throughout the song. While the opening chord progression may suggest standard tuning, other factors such as the pitch of the notes played may indicate a different tuning. By using specialized tools and techniques, music fans and scholars can gain a deeper understanding of the unique tuning used in this iconic song.

The significance of the alternative tuning in the context of the song

The alternative tuning used in “Come As You Are” by Nirvana plays a crucial role in creating the song’s distinct sound and atmosphere. By deviating from the standard tuning, Nirvana was able to achieve a unique tone that complemented the song’s themes and message.

One of the most significant aspects of the alternative tuning is its ability to create a sense of tension and dissonance. The lowered tuning gives the guitar a darker, more menacing sound that reflects the song’s lyrics about desire and longing. This tension is further heightened by the use of power chords, which create a sense of dissonance that adds to the overall emotional impact of the song.

Additionally, the alternative tuning allows for a greater range of sound and expression. The lowered tuning enables the guitar to produce a wider range of notes, which allows for more complex and dynamic melodies. This increased range also allows for more expressive and dynamic playing, adding to the overall emotional impact of the song.

Furthermore, the alternative tuning used in “Come As You Are” highlights Nirvana’s willingness to experiment and push boundaries. By using an alternative tuning, Nirvana was able to create a unique sound that set them apart from other bands and helped to establish their distinctive style. This experimentation and willingness to take risks was a hallmark of Nirvana’s music, and it continues to influence and inspire musicians to this day.

Overall, the alternative tuning used in “Come As You Are” by Nirvana is a significant aspect of the song’s sound and atmosphere. It allows for a unique tone that complements the song’s themes and message, creates a sense of tension and dissonance, and highlights Nirvana’s willingness to experiment and push boundaries.

The various theories about the tuning

The most commonly cited theory

The most commonly cited theory about the tuning of Come As You Are by Nirvana is that it is in Drop D tuning. This theory is supported by several sources, including interviews with the band members and the guitar tablature for the song. In Drop D tuning, the guitar’s sixth string is dropped down one whole step to D, which gives the chords a lower, heavier sound.

Additionally, the use of power chords throughout the song is consistent with the use of Drop D tuning, as power chords are easier to play in this tuning. The low D note in the bass line of the song also supports the theory that the song is in Drop D tuning.

Overall, the most commonly cited theory is that Come As You Are by Nirvana is in Drop D tuning, and this theory is supported by the use of power chords, the low D note in the bass line, and the band members’ own accounts of the song’s tuning.

The debate among musicians and music enthusiasts

One of the most intriguing aspects of Nirvana’s “Come As You Are” is the tuning used in the song. While there is no definitive answer, several theories have emerged among musicians and music enthusiasts, sparking a lively debate.

  • Drop D tuning: This theory suggests that the song is played in drop D tuning, where the lowest string is tuned down one whole step to D. This would make the power chord progression sound heavier and more intense, fitting with the grunge genre.
  • Dropped fifth tuning: Another theory posits that the song is in dropped fifth tuning, also known as “Pete Townshend tuning” after The Who’s guitarist. This involves tuning the sixth string down to D, creating a more aggressive sound that is common in rock and punk music.
  • Open D tuning: Some argue that the song is played in open D tuning, where all strings are tuned down a whole step to D. This would create a bright, resonant sound that is well-suited to the song’s melody and rhythm.
  • Regular tuning: A few music theorists suggest that the song is played in regular tuning (E, A, D, G, B, E), arguing that the unique sound of the song comes from the chord progressions and Kurt Cobain’s singing style rather than the guitar tuning.

Despite the differing opinions, the true tuning of “Come As You Are” remains a subject of debate among musicians and music enthusiasts.

The influence of Kurt Cobain’s musical background on the tuning choice

Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist of Nirvana, was heavily influenced by a wide range of musical genres, including punk rock, heavy metal, and alternative rock. His early musical experiences and exposure to various genres of music played a significant role in shaping his songwriting and guitar playing style, which in turn influenced the tuning choice for “Come As You Are.”

One theory suggests that the tuning for “Come As You Are” was inspired by Cobain’s admiration for the punk rock band, The Ramones. The Ramones were known for their fast and aggressive sound, which was achieved by tuning their guitars down to a lower pitch. Cobain, who was a fan of The Ramones, may have been influenced by their tuning choices and applied a similar approach to “Come As You Are.”

Another theory suggests that the tuning for “Come As You Are” was influenced by Cobain’s love for heavy metal music. Heavy metal bands such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin often tuned their guitars to a lower pitch to create a heavier and more intense sound. Cobain, who was a fan of these bands, may have been inspired by their tuning choices and incorporated them into “Come As You Are.”

In addition to these influences, Cobain’s own musical background and experience as a guitarist also played a role in the tuning choice for “Come As You Are.” Cobain was known for his experimental approach to guitar playing and his willingness to try new techniques and approaches. This experimentation may have led him to explore different tunings and ultimately settle on the unique tuning heard in “Come As You Are.”

Overall, the influence of Kurt Cobain’s musical background on the tuning choice for “Come As You Are” is a topic of much debate and speculation among music historians and fans. However, it is clear that Cobain’s love for a wide range of musical genres and his experimental approach to guitar playing played a significant role in shaping the unique sound of the song.

Experimenting with alternative tunings

The benefits of exploring different tunings

Exploring different tunings in music can bring a wealth of benefits to both musicians and listeners. By experimenting with alternative tunings, artists can broaden their musical horizons and find new ways to express themselves. This can lead to a more diverse and interesting body of work, as well as helping to push the boundaries of what is possible in music.

For listeners, hearing music in alternative tunings can provide a fresh and exciting listening experience. It can also help to deepen their understanding and appreciation of music theory, as they learn to recognize the unique characteristics of different tunings.

In addition, exploring alternative tunings can help musicians to develop their technical skills and expand their musical vocabulary. By learning to play and compose in different tunings, musicians can gain a greater understanding of how different notes and chords interact with one another, and how to use this knowledge to create powerful and evocative music.

Overall, the benefits of exploring alternative tunings in music are numerous and far-reaching. Whether you are a musician looking to broaden your musical horizons, or a listener looking for a new and exciting listening experience, there is much to be gained from exploring the world of alternative tunings.

Tips for trying out new tunings

If you’re looking to try out alternative tunings for your own music, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Start with a simple chord progression: When experimenting with new tunings, it can be helpful to start with a simple chord progression that you’re already familiar with. This will help you get a feel for how the new tuning affects the sound of the chords and how to play them correctly.
  2. Practice slowly: It’s important to practice slowly when trying out new tunings, especially if you’re not used to playing in that tuning. This will help you get a feel for the different intervals and how the strings behave in the new tuning.
  3. Use a tuner: A tuner can be a helpful tool when trying out new tunings. You can use it to ensure that your strings are properly tuned and to make adjustments as needed.
  4. Experiment with different string gauges: Different string gauges can have a big impact on the sound and feel of your instrument. Experiment with different gauges to find the ones that work best for you and the tuning you’re using.
  5. Have fun: Experimenting with alternative tunings can be a fun and rewarding experience. Don’t be afraid to try new things and see what sounds good to you. Remember that there’s no right or wrong way to tune your instrument – it’s all about finding the sound that works best for you and your music.

Famous songs that use alternative tunings

  • Sweet Child O’ Mine by Guns N’ Roses: The song is played in the key of A5 tuning, which is one whole step down from standard tuning.
  • Livin’ on a Prayer by Bon Jovi: The song is played in the key of E5 tuning, which is two whole steps down from standard tuning.
  • Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin: The song is played in the key of A6 tuning, which is three whole steps down from standard tuning.
  • Crazy Train by Ozzy Osbourne: The song is played in the key of D5 tuning, which is two and a half steps down from standard tuning.
  • Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd: The song is played in the key of E5 tuning, which is two whole steps down from standard tuning.
  • The Trooper by Iron Maiden: The song is played in the key of D5 tuning, which is two and a half steps down from standard tuning.
  • Enter Sandman by Metallica: The song is played in the key of A5 tuning, which is one whole step down from standard tuning.
  • November Rain by Guns N’ Roses: The song is played in the key of Bb5 tuning, which is four whole steps down from standard tuning.
  • B.Y.O.B. by System of a Down: The song is played in the key of G5 tuning, which is three whole steps down from standard tuning.
  • Bulletproof by La Roux: The song is played in the key of G5 tuning, which is three whole steps down from standard tuning.

These songs demonstrate the versatility of alternative tunings and how they can be used to create unique sounds and moods in music. They also show that alternative tunings are not limited to a specific genre or style of music, but can be used to great effect in a wide range of musical contexts.

Come As You Are in different tunings

The impact of tuning changes on the song’s sound

  • Changes in tuning can significantly alter the sound of a song, and “Come As You Are” by Nirvana is no exception.
  • By changing the tuning of the song, the overall tonality and timbre of the instruments can be altered, resulting in a different sonic experience for the listener.
  • For example, if the song is tuned down a half-step, the guitars will sound slightly lower and more menacing, while the vocals will be darker and more introspective.
  • On the other hand, if the song is tuned up a whole step, the guitars will sound brighter and more energetic, while the vocals will be more assertive and confident.
  • Additionally, changes in tuning can also affect the rhythm and groove of the song, as the timing and feel of the notes may change.
  • Overall, the impact of tuning changes on the sound of “Come As You Are” can be significant, and it is worth experimenting with different tunings to find the version that best suits the desired musical effect.

Performing the song in different tunings

When it comes to performing “Come As You Are” by Nirvana in different tunings, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, the original recording of the song is in standard tuning, which is EADGBE. However, Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist of Nirvana, was known to use alternative tunings to achieve unique sounds and textures in his playing.

One alternative tuning that Cobain used for “Come As You Are” was dropped D tuning, which is DADGBE. This tuning lowers the pitch of the strings by a whole step, giving the song a darker and heavier sound. To achieve this tuning, players simply need to tune their guitar down a whole step from standard tuning, using a guitar tuner or a tuning pedal.

Another alternative tuning that Cobain used for the song was Drop C tuning, which is CTDGBE. This tuning lowers the pitch of the strings by two half-steps, giving the song an even heavier and more aggressive sound. To achieve this tuning, players need to tune their guitar down two half-steps from standard tuning, using a guitar tuner or a tuning pedal.

Overall, experimenting with different tunings can be a great way to add new dimensions to the sound of “Come As You Are” by Nirvana. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced player, trying out different tunings can help you find new ways to express yourself musically and add depth to your playing.

How different tunings affect the emotional impact of the song

When a song is played in a different tuning, it can alter the emotional impact that the song has on the listener. This is because the notes in the song will be different, and the way they are played and heard can change the mood and tone of the song. In the case of “Come As You Are” by Nirvana, the song was originally recorded in standard tuning, but it has been covered in a variety of other tunings, including drop D tuning and even alternate tunings such as DADGAD.

Drop D tuning

Drop D tuning is a popular alternative tuning that involves lowering the sixth string on a guitar by a whole step. This creates a darker, more aggressive sound that is often used in rock and metal music. When “Come As You Are” is played in drop D tuning, the lowered sixth string adds a heavier, more ominous feel to the song. The chords and riffs in the song are still recognizable, but the lower tuning gives them a new, more aggressive edge.

DADGAD tuning

DADGAD tuning is a rare tuning that involves re-stringing the guitar so that the notes D, A, D, G, A, D are played from thickest to thinnest strings. This tuning is known for its unique, ethereal sound and is often used in folk and classical music. When “Come As You Are” is played in DADGAD tuning, the song takes on a more dreamy, contemplative feel. The notes in the chords are spaced further apart, creating a sense of openness and introspection.

Overall, the emotional impact of “Come As You Are” can be greatly affected by the tuning in which it is played. Whether it is the heavier, more aggressive sound of drop D tuning or the dreamy, introspective feel of DADGAD tuning, the choice of tuning can greatly influence the mood and tone of the song.

Recap of the significance of tuning in music

Tuning is a crucial aspect of music that plays a vital role in the overall sound and feel of a song. It is the process of adjusting the pitch of a musical instrument to produce a specific sound or key. In music, the most common tuning is equal temperament, which divides the octave into 12 equal intervals.

There are several types of tuning systems used in music, including just intonation, equal temperament, and meantone tuning. Just intonation is a tuning system that produces more accurate intervals between notes, while equal temperament divides the octave into 12 equal intervals, making it easier to play in any key. Meantone tuning is a compromise between just intonation and equal temperament, used primarily in the baroque period.

Tuning also affects the way chords and melodies are played and heard. Different tunings can create different emotional responses in listeners, and some tunings may be better suited for certain types of music or instruments. For example, Drop D tuning, which lowers the pitch of the low E string by a whole step, is commonly used in rock and metal music to create a heavier, more aggressive sound.

Overall, the significance of tuning in music cannot be overstated. It is a fundamental aspect of musical expression that can greatly impact the tone, mood, and overall feel of a song.

The lasting influence of Nirvana’s Come As You Are

The song “Come As You Are” by Nirvana has had a lasting influence on popular music and culture. The song’s grunge sound, combined with its raw lyrics and catchy melody, helped to establish Nirvana as one of the most influential bands of the 1990s.

One of the reasons for the song’s enduring popularity is its use of a specific guitar tuning. “Come As You Are” is typically played in Drop D tuning, which involves lowering the sixth string on a guitar by one whole step. This tuning gives the song a distinctive, darker sound that has become synonymous with the grunge genre.

In addition to its impact on the grunge scene, “Come As You Are” has also had a broader influence on popular music. The song’s catchy melody and memorable chorus have made it a staple of classic rock radio, and its raw, emotional lyrics have inspired countless other artists.

Despite the song’s enduring popularity, its original recording has been the subject of some controversy. In 2013, a re-mix of “Come As You Are” was released that included previously unheard elements, leading some fans to question the authenticity of the original recording. However, the song’s impact on popular music remains undeniable, and its influence can still be heard in the music of today’s grunge and alternative rock bands.

Encouragement to experiment with alternative tunings in music

When it comes to playing “Come As You Are” by Nirvana, the standard tuning is Drop D, which is one of the most popular alternative tunings used in rock music. However, this does not mean that you cannot experiment with other tunings to create your own unique sound.

In fact, experimenting with alternative tunings can be a great way to add variety to your playing and develop your own style. It can also help you to discover new sounds and techniques that you may not have thought possible with standard tuning.

Here are some reasons why you should consider experimenting with alternative tunings in music:

  • Explore new sounds: Alternative tunings can produce unique and interesting sounds that you may not be able to achieve with standard tuning. By experimenting with different tunings, you can create a wide range of tones and textures that can add depth and complexity to your playing.
  • Expand your musical vocabulary: By learning to play in different tunings, you can expand your musical vocabulary and develop a better understanding of how different tunings affect the sound of your instrument. This can help you to become a more versatile and well-rounded musician.
  • Enhance your creativity: Experimenting with alternative tunings can help to unlock your creativity and inspire new ideas for your music. By pushing the boundaries of standard tuning, you can create a distinctive sound that sets you apart from other musicians.

In conclusion, while “Come As You Are” by Nirvana is typically played in Drop D tuning, there is no reason why you cannot experiment with other tunings to create your own unique sound. By exploring alternative tunings, you can expand your musical vocabulary, enhance your creativity, and discover new sounds and techniques that you may not have thought possible with standard tuning. So don’t be afraid to try something new and see where it takes you!

FAQs

1. What type of tuning is used in Come As You Are by Nirvana?

Come As You Are by Nirvana is typically played in standard tuning, which means the guitar is tuned to E, A, D, G, B, and E from low to high strings. However, Kurt Cobain, the lead singer and guitarist of Nirvana, was known to use alternative tunings to achieve unique sounds, so it’s possible that he used a slightly different tuning for this song.

2. What makes Come As You Are by Nirvana stand out?

Come As You Are by Nirvana is notable for its catchy melody, memorable guitar riff, and powerful lyrics. The song’s use of a steady drumbeat and grunge-influenced guitar chords give it a distinctive sound that helped to define the grunge genre of the early 1990s. Additionally, the song’s raw emotion and introspective lyrics have made it a favorite among fans of Nirvana and grunge music.

3. Is Come As You Are by Nirvana a difficult song to play?

The difficulty of playing Come As You Are by Nirvana depends on your skill level and experience as a guitarist. The song’s main riff is relatively simple and can be played by beginner guitarists, but the song also features more complex guitar parts and chord progressions that may be challenging for less experienced players. As with any song, practice and repetition are key to mastering it.

Nirvana – Come As You Are (tuning, intro and verse riff)

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