Guitar: learn Breton music in standard tuning

Many guitarists play Breton music in open tuning, known as DADGAD. But you can also play tuned in E A D G B E and use all the possibilities of the standard tuning.

The majority of guitarists have learned to play the guitar using the standard EADGBE tuning. So it sometimes seems difficult to start all over again with a different tuning.
But can you easily play Breton music while keeping your usual chords and will it really work?
The answer is that you can obviously do anything with standard tuning, including playing Breton music.

Open chords


It is Yann Guireg Le Bars, guitar teacher in “Trégor” in Brittany, who proposes a whole set of lessons dedicated to Breton music in standard tuning.
And to start, he shows how to tell the difference between an open chord and an open tuning. These are two different concepts that are often misunderstood by many guitarists.
Open chord is a chord that uses a lot of open strings to allow the guitar to resonate. Thus, Em, Am, C or GM are open chords since they use open strings. On the contrary, barre chords are not open chords. So it proves you can play open chords in standard tuning.
The advantages of using open chords are to create new moods and change the colour of the song. Of course, we can play the same grids with or without open chords, but the feeling will be very different.

Open tunings


We are familiar with the standard EADGBE tuning, but also the DADGAD tuning used in Celtic music. In classical music, the DADGBE has been used since the 19th century. In reality, the open tunings were designed for a particular style of music, ie the tuning suits the style of music being played and therefore you get a sound on the guitar that is particularly suitable for that style.
The downside is that you have to relearn all your chords, but it also allows you to develop your creativity on the guitar.


So it shows you can also play Breton tunes very well with a guitar tuned in standard. Of course, this will not give the same colour as in DADGAD, but in any case, you will be able to accompany the other instruments without difficulty.