Simple Guitar Tuning Explorer

Processing is a Java-based programming environment that has done a great job of branding itself as accessible and empowering to newcomers, technophobes, and artists. ¬†While I strongly oppose some of the programming practices it encourages (global side-effects, etc.), it’s hard not to value a tool that makes it so fast and convenient to distribute simple ideas.

This morning, as my first encounter with processing, I came up with this simple sketch to map out chords and scales in alternate guitar tunings.  

You’re free to do as you like with the source code:
Processing Code:Guitar_Tuning.pde
Pre-processed Java Code:Guitar_Tuning.java
Mac Application:guitar_tuning.macosx.zip
Windows Application:guitar_tuning.windows.zip
Linux Application:guitar_tuning.linux.zip

Things should be fairly self-explanatory, but here are some notes:

  • Click on any text to change it, right click to cycle backwards.
  • Click on the labels for the strings to cycle through tunings
  • I’m not really sure about the proper semantics for modes in the pentatonic scale, so I just made something up that is probably pretty useless.
  • If you want a dominant seventh chord, switch to lydian or myxolydian mode.
  • Switching modes in the harmonic minor is a little exotic and I’m not sure why you would want to do it.

If you download the code, you’ll see that this is easily adaptable to instruments with more or fewer strings (simply change the “numGridX” variable at the top of the file), or even grid based controllers (although the sketch does assume that the strings are chromatic along the y axis).


<br /> No Java 2 SDK, Standard Edition v 1.4.1 support for APPLET!!<br />

About russell

Russell works at a music software company in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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