Joni Mitchell’s Alternative Tunings

by Frederik Nielsen, Aug 8, 2018 . 3 min read

Joni Mitchell’s Alternative Tunings

Musicians like Joni Mitchell are a dying breed. Although I’m not big on folk myself, I have a soft spot for Joni. Don’t even come here with Counting Crows’ cover of ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ with Vanessa Carlton giving her best Hanson impression. No, I want the real thing:

Why Joni Mitchell is awesome

There’s many reasons to love Joni. She wrote catchy songs with thoughtful lyrics, was an excellent guitarist, produced her own albums, and released 17 of them before retiring. I could go on at length about her album Blue, as could any other music reviewer. But we’re here to look at some of the alternate tunings Joni has used during her career.

Joni Mitchell has used over 50 different alternative tunings spread across her catalogue of music, so it would be unfair to define her by one. There is one alternate tuning you need to master in order to get the Joni sound, however. That is Open D:

Open D is a good start, as it will allow you to get straight into playing “Big Yellow Taxi” mentioned above, as well as some of her other songs like “Chelsea Morning” and “Both Sides Now”.

How to get the Joni Mitchell tuning with your Roadie 2

To get the Joni sound, you will need to add the Open D tuning to your Roadie 2. In order to do that, open the Roadie app and tap where it says Tunings. Here, you’ll select your six-string guitar and then Create New Tuning. Add in the Open D like this: D A D F♯ A D. Once that’s done, name the tuning Open D and then save it by hitting Sync. Hello Joni!

Variety is the spice of life as a musician

If you watch footage of her live performances, you’ll find that she likes to make life a bit difficult for those trying to imitate her. You think you’ve learned one of her songs, just to discover that she’s changed the key on the live version. She also liked to change the keys with her capo, and the position of that has also changed a lot over the years.

Joni has described how the use of alternate tunings as the key to her songwriting. By changing up the tuning and playing with some new chord progressions, she kept evolving her style and technique. She even invented her own tuning notation system, where Open D was notated as D75435. This method was used to indicate the tuning of a string relative to the one below it.

You can check out her website for more in-depth explanation of her approach to songwriting and tuning — something I’d highly recommend! I’d also recommend listening to the album “Blue”, if you haven’t already:

While you’re here, check out our new & improved Complete Guide to Guitar Tuning and let us know what you think!



Get our free Alternate Tunings Guide!
Submit
Get Roadie Tuner

Check out some other similar articles

Today’s Roadie Spotlight series will introduce Adam Nitti, a world-renown bassist, music teacher, composer, and recording artist.

Randall Nashleanas
Aug 9, 2019 . 3 min read

If you want to learn and master guitar, looking towards a guitar hero or two is never a bad idea.

Alec Plowman
Jul 24, 2019 . 3 min read

Roadie Tuner has received much support from musicians all over the world, as they share their personal preferences and opinions on how they use Roadie products.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 10, 2019 . 2 min read

While it’s true that the music industry can often seem like a young person’s game, there are more than a handful guitarists who made it later in life.

Frederik Nielsen
Jul 4, 2019 . 3 min read

We work really hard to keep our Roadie users happy and nothing gives us more satisfaction than to release new features that make musicians’ lives better!

Ghadi Abdallah
Jun 27, 2019 . 2 min read

Western and non-western civilizations across the globe contain a plethora of various genres of music. Although these cultures aren’t universally on the same page – music is the universal language.

Randall Nashleanas
Jun 21, 2019 . 5 min read

We’ve covered alternate tunings extensively on this blog, and recommended several great songs you can learn to play with new tunings. We’ve even written an entire ebook on it. 

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 19, 2019 . 7 min read

Ice-T is a legend. Not only can he claim to be the Godfather of Gangsta Rap, but he’s also very convincing as a TV cop.

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 11, 2019 . 3 min read

The beauty of being a musician is that the only musician you can be…is you. Jimi Hendrix left-handedly pioneered blues and rock guitar styles of playing with a head full of lucy.

Randall Nashleanas
Jun 10, 2019 . 3 min read

Happy Father’s Day! Hopefully you’ve got a really cool present (like a Roadie 2) from your kids,

Frederik Nielsen
Jun 9, 2019 . 4 min read

Tuning a 24 String Bass…How long does it take?!

For some people, it’s quite difficult to tune an instrument even with the use of a tuner.

Randall Nashleanas
Jun 7, 2019 . 3 min read

Around 4000 years ago, someone invented a gadget which could create sound using strings forged from the gut of a cow. As time progressed,

Randall Nashleanas
May 31, 2019 . 4 min read

Band Industries, the makers of the Roadie automatic guitar tuners, are excited to announce the launch of their new free tuner app.

Karine Janho
May 27, 2019 . 2 min read

Mastodon is a heavy metal guitar masterclass! In the past twenty years or so, Brent Hinds and Bill Kelliher have written some

Alec Plowman
May 13, 2019 . 4 min read

Hello fellow Roadie fans, and welcome to the ultimate guide to guitar tuning! It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or have never seen a guitar before — this guide covers it all.

Frederik Nielsen
May 8, 2019 . 7 min read

Whether you are a beginner or have some experience with guitars, you still may be wondering how to tune a guitar perfectly.

Alain Abou Atmeh
May 2, 2019 . 4 min read

Alternate tunings make life as a guitarist a bit more interesting, as it’s easy to get tired of just being famous all the time. That’s why we cover alternate tuning

Frederik Nielsen
May 1, 2019 . 5 min read

Keith Richards, half man, half cigarette, is the legendary guitarist of The Rolling Stones. Having been in the game for as long as he has,

Frederik Nielsen
Apr 30, 2019 . 3 min read

Drop D tuning is an awesome tool. If you want to write a guitar riff with heaviness, heft and grit, it’s great to have it in your tuning arsenal.

Alec Plowman
Apr 24, 2019 . 3 min read

The variety of guitars available goes far beyond acoustic or electric. From its humble beginnings as a lute,

Natalie Hagen
Apr 13, 2019 . 1 min read
We'll be bringing you recommended tabs and plenty of interesting quotes from guitar legends along the way!