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Old 06.15.2006, 02:34 PM   #1
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It seems like sonic youths unusual tunings are now only a gimmick to keep them from being considered just "rock". For the most part their songs are very tonal and harmonic. The unususal tunings serve little purpose nowadays. Im saying this because I hate when people talk to me about them and how they heard there tunings are so weird. I mean songs like "shadow of a doubt", "halloween", and "brave men run" take full advantage of the open tunings (along with many other of their earlier works). But alot of their newer stuff is just power chords unecessarily spaced across octaves.

Im going to get bashed for saying that....
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Old 06.15.2006, 02:43 PM   #2
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maybe it has something to do with tone? certain notes sound better on certain strings on certain frets. if you listened a little harder, maybe you'd take notice that they're not just playing power chords.
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Old 06.15.2006, 02:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m^a(t)h
It seems like sonic youths unusual tunings are now only a gimmick to keep them from being considered just "rock". For the most part their songs are very tonal and harmonic. The unususal tunings serve little purpose nowadays. Im saying this because I hate when people talk to me about them and how they heard there tunings are so weird. I mean songs like "shadow of a doubt", "halloween", and "brave men run" take full advantage of the open tunings (along with many other of their earlier works). But alot of their newer stuff is just power chords unecessarily spaced across octaves.

Im going to get bashed for saying that....

Nonstandard tunings is how they learned how to play their instruments, and how they've been writing songs for 25 years. Its what they are used to, and the exact opposite of a gimmick, because it is now fully integrated into their style. Its how they know how to play the guitar.
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Old 06.15.2006, 02:52 PM   #4
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you can try to mimick the songs in standard and you'll get an "approximated" sound or version, but some of the subtilties that you get from strings tuned in unison and octaves apart you can't exactly achieve in standard tuning unless you have octopus hands and monkey fingers.

and on the last two albums they've gone back to using more of the older tunings that are more open, (ie pattern recognition, paper cup exit).

to call it a gimmick is pretty off base, as well as saying that the alt. tunings serve little purpose, they do serve alot of purpose i alot can be done in Thurston's G tuning that can't be done in standard and vice versa... and thats what he has choosen to do. Their tunings at first do seem weird but for studied guitarists it really isn't because alt. tunings have been used for a long long time by a wide variety of guitar players across multiple genres.
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Old 06.15.2006, 03:01 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sn@ke
yeah, I mean...listen to Candle, those fucking chords are just beautiful.

agreed...

its like i don't quite understand what you want them to do, actually utilize standard tuning? alot of what i like about sonic youth is the unique guitar sound and that has a whole hell of alot to do with the tuning.
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Old 06.15.2006, 03:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scott v
you can try to mimick the songs in standard and you'll get an "approximated" sound or version, but some of the subtilties that you get from strings tuned in unison and octaves apart you can't exactly achieve in standard tuning unless you have octopus hands and monkey fingers.

and on the last two albums they've gone back to using more of the older tunings that are more open, (ie pattern recognition, paper cup exit).

to call it a gimmick is pretty off base, as well as saying that the alt. tunings serve little purpose, they do serve alot of purpose i alot can be done in Thurston's G tuning that can't be done in standard and vice versa... and thats what he has choosen to do. Their tunings at first do seem weird but for studied guitarists it really isn't because alt. tunings have been used for a long long time by a wide variety of guitar players across multiple genres.


As a descent guitarist I can tell you that I have never seen a guitarist use a GGDDEbEb tuning. Or the F#F#F#F#EB tuning.The point of this topic was not looking at the octave tunings and how they are heard differently from a standard tuning. But how Sonic Youth has gone from atonal structure to tonal progressions and licks that could be found in standard tunings with pentatonic scales and their tunings are perceived open minded when they are playing something that has a melody strictly in key...
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Old 06.15.2006, 03:33 PM   #7
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the tunings are pretty cool. but i still cant figure out thurstons tuning for kool thing.
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Old 06.15.2006, 03:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sn@ke
You musicians are really complicated, If you really want to know why sonic youth has gone from atonal structure to tonal progressions, you should ask Thurston or Lee, check this thread "Post questions for the band here".


i know the answer to that question, its called money....
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Old 06.15.2006, 03:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sn@ke
hahahaha, oh my god!, the secret of sonic youth has been revealed by this man!

well thats the result of selling out right?
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Old 06.15.2006, 03:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m^a(t)h
i know the answer to that question, its called money....

For fucks sake, they just wrote and recorded an album... You're average person is not gonna think its poppy. It doesn't sound like what's being played on the radio. They didn't release single. I haven't seen commercials for it on TV. I haven't seen them on the cover of Rolling Stone. They are not gonna make a lot of money of this record. To the average corporate american music fan Rather riff probably sounds very aloof and strange. They didn't sell out, by shortening their songs, and using clean guitars. I'm sorry. People hold this band to ridiculous standards I feel.
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Old 06.15.2006, 03:55 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WHOREOHSCOPE
If they really wanted money they'd take it to a whole nother level ------- they could easily have done that at the point when they had suddenly caught alot of people's attention back in the 90's right after doing Jet Set which was setting into the possibility of just what your saying but... they made Washing Machine with songs that had the pretty lengthy songs... and a thousand leaves and NYC G+F and while the first two are very tonal and a bit of the latter is tonal and their last 2 releases before rather ripped were very tonal(which is also tonal)- I don't think majority of the people out there would really emerse themselves in songs that span over 6 minutes unless they are into jam bands which Sonic Youth have leanings toward as of late... which isn't a very popular category of music at this point in time? so what does money have anything to do with it?? if it was really about the money... I think they'd of gone in a totally different direction...- they pretty much cast off MTV after Diamond Sea-- and that was their chance for the money .....


no no no... they started selling out their sound in the mid 80's. From Evol they progressively grew more rock based and tonal. They made Daydream Nation a rock success, the perfect balance of rock and a hint of artiness to please everyone.

why do you think they still make records? Why do you think they go off on their own and make cool little noise EPs and underground stuff but always come back. They need the money to support themselves when their doing those little noise projects...
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Old 06.15.2006, 03:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m^a(t)h
no no no... they started selling out their sound in the mid 80's. From Evol they progressively grew more rock based and tonal. They made Daydream Nation a rock success, the perfect balance of rock and a hint of artiness to please everyone.

why do you think they still make records? Why do you think they go off on their own and make cool little noise EPs and underground stuff but always come back. They need the money to support themselves when their doing those little noise projects...

Have you ever seen them play live? You can tell they are really really into the Rock/Noise they play live, that they love their songs. Oh wait, that's probably just them smirking at themselves, knowing they've made money.
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Old 06.15.2006, 03:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by top 40 squeeze
For fucks sake, they just wrote and recorded an album... You're average person is not gonna think its poppy. It doesn't sound like what's being played on the radio. They didn't release single. I haven't seen commercials for it on TV. I haven't seen them on the cover of Rolling Stone. They are not gonna make a lot of money of this record. To the average corporate american music fan Rather riff probably sounds very aloof and strange. They didn't sell out, by shortening their songs, and using clean guitars. I'm sorry. People hold this band to ridiculous standards I feel.

they do talk shows, star in Gilmore Girls, dude, where have you been???
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Old 06.15.2006, 04:03 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by top 40 squeeze
Have you ever seen them play live? You can tell they are really really into the Rock/Noise they play live, that they love their songs. Oh wait, that's probably just them smirking at themselves, knowing they've made money.

I know they are into noise, thats what Thurstons always raving about, thats why Hair Police and Wolf Eyes were on tour, thats why Thurston plays noise with his other groups live, but you dont hear that on a SY record do you? It just wouldnt sell as well. EDIT: and I think RR sounds alot like anything else on the radio. Its not strange or weird at all....
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Old 06.15.2006, 04:13 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sn@ke
There was a thread where someone was saying that he could play sonic youth songs on standar tuning, that's impossible you just can try to emulate the sounds, but you can't play the songs like they really are, and that kind of sucks. You can prove me wrong by recording a sonic youth song played in standard.

exactly. Fuck, you would be the radest guitarist alive. We're talking fretting strings 12 frets away at the same time, with 'octave' tunings.
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Old 06.15.2006, 04:15 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by king_buzzo
the tunings are pretty cool. but i still cant figure out thurstons tuning for kool thing.

F#F#F#F#EB
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Old 06.15.2006, 04:24 PM   #17
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Why do you think that making music with more of a "classical" tonal structure and gentler dynamics is the result of selling out?
A band that has been together for 25 years is never going to sound the same as they did in the beginning, they progress as musicians and as people and the music follows. Who says that they are making their music softer and more accesible for money? Perhaps that is just where they feel like going musically. This is what make SY interesting for me. If they made DDN records again and again then sure I would still think they are a great band but I wouldn't like them as much. I find them interesting as they are always progressing into new terratory.
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Old 06.15.2006, 04:30 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m^a(t)h
I know they are into noise, thats what Thurstons always raving about, thats why Hair Police and Wolf Eyes were on tour, thats why Thurston plays noise with his other groups live, but you dont hear that on a SY record do you? It just wouldnt sell as well. EDIT: and I think RR sounds alot like anything else on the radio. Its not strange or weird at all....

You're correct, you don't hear alot of he same sort of noise on most of the recent SY albums, however they intentionally do not want to do as much noise or atonal stuff nowadays like they did in the early years or like they do now in side projects, and i think this is being confused for "selling out" for they are not necessary doing that (if they did i think they've been getting a hell of alot more record label support...whcih they are not receiving). if they were indeed selling out, who are they conforming to? and to what are they conforming with? i still see them as a unique entity in the musical world and continue to do so. they have developed in a way to further include traditional song structures in their music. what exactly is wrong with that? (i love experimental music, and find most pop music nowadays shitty and uninteresting but i have no problem with it if its done well and an interesting way) Thurston has said repeatedly in recent interviews that they have no interest or intention to break barriers, which is completely fine w/ me.

i just don't quite understand what expectations you have from them.

and btw, guitarist John Fahey used quite a few tunings that included multiple strings in unison (mostly 2 or even 3 strings) for his slide guitar, he was quite the influence on Sonic Youth even early on (besides Branca and Chatham), when he didn't even get close to the popularity in the underground that has been seen in the last 10 or so years... and Fahey is well regarded in alot of Folk/Americana and mainstream cicrcles sicne the 1960's not just in experimental or the avant garde.
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Old 06.15.2006, 04:36 PM   #19
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bands like trying different things sometimes... look at RHCP and By The Way.... that album was NOTHING like anything they've ever done. A good band is a good band no matter what in my opinion.... unles you're Jerry Only and The Misfits but that's a whole other story....

And i think it's more then obvious that Sonic Youth has never played the music they play for the money. It's experimental thrash... WHEN has that ever been all that popular? Maybe in the early 90s a little thanks to Kurt Cobain, who was inspired by Sonic Youth in a lot of ways. Sonic Youth is known because of how long they've been around and for the good different unique music they have produced. Sonic Youth is not a mainstreme super money bling bling band. They never have, never will. So what if they show up on a t.v. show or two? Ever watch Conan O'brian? Hahah. I've never heard of half the bands he plays. You don't have to be big to be on t.v. Legendary will get you a spot on any t.v. show. This was most obvious when mother fuckin DANZIG was on ATHF.

so yeah.....
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Old 06.15.2006, 04:37 PM   #20
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Playing in standard tuning would be selling out.
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