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View Full Version : Why re-entrant tuning?



sarastro
09-19-2010, 06:30 PM
I'm very new to ukulele playing (3 weeks) and I am curious to the reason for re-entrant tuning?

Lexxy
09-19-2010, 07:00 PM
I'm guessing, cuz that's how the Authentic ukulele sound is? :/

thejumpingflea
09-19-2010, 07:02 PM
Because that is what makes the uke unique.

It gives you more flexibility as a solo performer, has a more balanced sound when strummed and many popular uke techniques can only be done with the versatile high G string.

Ukeffect
09-20-2010, 04:55 AM
Well, theJumpingflea is correct...this tuning is what makes the ukulele unique. The uke can be tuned a lot of different ways, each for a particural sound or song style. I have found that some ukes sound better tuned a certain way...ie. Low G, slack string, ADF#B, etc. Try some different tunings and see which one opens your uke(s) up. This by the way is also an excuse to develop UAS... I mean, now you have different ukes set up for certain types of playing and each now sounds as good as they possibly can! It makes perfect sense...hehehehe!:music:

lindydanny
09-20-2010, 05:56 AM
It also has to do with the human ear. When ukulele was relatively young (this is all educated guesses, by the way), it was mostly played as a solo instrument. People singing tended to sing in higher registers and the low note (or "G") didn't sound as good as tuning it up an octave. As to why it ended up being a "G" rather than any thing else, there is so theory I could go into on, but I won't bore you.

If you get the chance, listen to a uke played with a low G. I don't like it as a solo instrument as much as the high G. I do play it with the low G a lot because I play with other instruments a lot. But, for solo work, it blends with the chords quite a bit better.

~DB

P.S.: I take no responsibility for the historical accuracy of the above post! 8-P

Dougf
09-20-2010, 06:34 AM
Re-entrant tuning also gives you easier access to a potential melody note within a given chord. This can come in handy with chord-melody and finger picking styles.

I think it is also somewhat akin to the fifth string on a 5-string banjo. Perhaps a digression, but anyone know the story on that fifth string?

Dibblet
09-20-2010, 06:42 AM
The high reentrant G tends to give you close position chord voicings similar to the sort of voicings a keyboard player would play in his right hand. This gives the chords the characteristic ukulele sound as has been mentioned above. Using a low G you tend to get drop 2 voicings where the second note from the top of the chord is dropped an octave. This sounds more guitar like.

strumsilly
09-20-2010, 06:56 AM
I know very little music theory, but when I tried low g on my tenor, I thought re entrant sounded better. and on my sopranos d tuning sounds better to me. to each his own

dirk.li
09-20-2010, 08:49 AM
Well, theJumpingflea is correct...this tuning is what makes the ukulele unique. The uke can be tuned a lot of different ways, each for a particural sound or song style. I have found that some ukes sound better tuned a certain way...ie. Low G, slack string, ADF#B, etc. Try some different tunings and see which one opens your uke(s) up. This by the way is also an excuse to develop UAS... I mean, now you have different ukes set up for certain types of playing and each now sounds as good as they possibly can! It makes perfect sense...hehehehe!:music:

Wow... these are almost my words! :-) I love to have various ukes with different tunings around. And may I add that the song style plays an important role, too. Some ukes/tunings are better for picking, others for strumming... the combinations are endless!!!

LoMa
09-20-2010, 11:14 AM
Re-entrant tuning is a very old one, dating from the renaissance. For some lutes and for some early 4 course guitars, music was written for re-entrant tuning. Most of the renaissance and post-renaissance guitars were 4 courses of double strings with the first and second courses tuned as matching doubles, and the 3rd and 4th courses tuned an octave apart (similar to the modern 12-string guitar) - later on both lutes and guitars, the 1st course became a single string to better accmomdate fancy soloing and technique on the highest string. And finally, the 4th course became a single string or a double tuned the same to emphasize the tonality that a musician/composer wanted.

I've often noted that re-entrant tuning on many ukes igve it a more ringing tone from the sympathetic vibrations of the high G string.

And the low G tuning gives you a larger range. I therefore like low G tuning on the most resonant ukes, and high G on ukes which benefit from the sympathic re-entarnt tuning.

I love 'em both. It's a wide wide world!

whetu
09-20-2010, 12:07 PM
Re-entrant tuning is a very old one, dating from the renaissance. For some lutes and for some early 4 course guitars, music was written for re-entrant tuning. Most of the renaissance and post-renaissance guitars were 4 courses of double strings with the first and second courses tuned as matching doubles, and the 3rd and 4th courses tuned an octave apart (similar to the modern 12-string guitar) - later on both lutes and guitars, the 1st course became a single string to better accmomdate fancy soloing and technique on the highest string. And finally, the 4th course became a single string or a double tuned the same to emphasize the tonality that a musician/composer wanted.

I've often noted that re-entrant tuning on many ukes igve it a more ringing tone from the sympathetic vibrations of the high G string.

This. I always understood that the re-entrant tuning came from Spanish/Portugese guitars of that era. Remembering that the ukulele traces back from Hawaii to the Madeira Islands (and from there, the Portugese influence)

/edit: Have a read of this (http://www.nalu-music.com/how-i-learned-to-play-the-ukulele/)

sarastro
09-20-2010, 05:36 PM
Thanks for all your replies. My guess was it had something to do with strumming.

Ahnko Honu
09-20-2010, 06:36 PM
It's the original tuning, no need fix what's not broke. ;)

Harold O.
09-21-2010, 06:58 AM
Because then we get to say "re-entrant" and actually sound serious.

Dibblet
09-21-2010, 08:05 AM
Re-entrant tuning is a very old one, dating from the renaissance. For some lutes and for some early 4 course guitars, music was written for re-entrant tuning. Most of the renaissance and post-renaissance guitars were 4 courses of double strings with the first and second courses tuned as matching doubles, and the 3rd and 4th courses tuned an octave apart (similar to the modern 12-string guitar) - later on both lutes and guitars, the 1st course became a single string to better accmomdate fancy soloing and technique on the highest string. And finally, the 4th course became a single string or a double tuned the same to emphasize the tonality that a musician/composer wanted.

I've often noted that re-entrant tuning on many ukes igve it a more ringing tone from the sympathetic vibrations of the high G string.

And the low G tuning gives you a larger range. I therefore like low G tuning on the most resonant ukes, and high G on ukes which benefit from the sympathic re-entarnt tuning.

I love 'em both. It's a wide wide world!

I just did some googling and found this: http://www.lgv-pub.com/Essays/Fink_-_Tuning_paper.pdf

Look at fig. 6c. on page 7. Not only is it reentrant tuning but it is exactly the same tuning as a modern ukulele. It looks to be an octave higher but guitarists always write an octave too high. They were using this tuning in Spain prior to 1555. Amazing. I wonder what the scale length was. I'm off to do more research.

Dougf
09-21-2010, 02:39 PM
I just did some googling and found this: http://www.lgv-pub.com/Essays/Fink_-_Tuning_paper.pdf

Look at fig. 6c. on page 7. Not only is it reentrant tuning but it is exactly the same tuning as a modern ukulele. It looks to be an octave higher but guitarists always write an octave too high. They were using this tuning in Spain prior to 1555. Amazing. I wonder what the scale length was. I'm off to do more research.

That's pretty cool! I just scanned the article, but it seems they both strummed and picked. Any idea where we could hear something like what they were playing back then?

allanr
09-21-2010, 04:19 PM
I like a low G on my tenors for the wider range of notes, and it seems to lend itself to blues. On my soprano and concert I keep a high G, because it sounds so much "happier" and my little Martin always chases away my blues when I play it.

Chris Tarman
09-21-2010, 06:07 PM
Because then we get to say "re-entrant" and actually sound serious.

That's the funniest thing I've read all day! I really do love the word "re-entrant", and I wish it had been ME that thought of calling a uke band "The Re-Entrants". That was pure genius!