Rafiq Bhatia on Open String Chords

“One of the things that makes the guitar so interesting is the timbral possibilities of being able to play the exact same pitch in multiple ways—e.g. as open strings, harmonics, or fretted notes on different strings. I tend to think of each of these options as being unique because they all sound distinct from one another, even if each one shares the same fundamental frequency. Because of this, my approach is less based around “chords” and is more focused on “sonorities,” in that a big part of sounding multiple notes together is about how each component resonates and how they interact with one another. Open strings behave differently from fretted notes in virtually every way: timbre, transients, sustain, decay, intonation, undulation, etc. Using them in combination with other kinds of articulations (fretted notes, harmonics, etc) can privilege the open string’s harmonic role, create a certain kind of “width” of intonation, and/or provide a bridge between multiple structures”

— Rafiq Bhatia, March 2018

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