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Play the Blues Like...: Skip James

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Skip James’ work is characterized by haunting themes, due in no small part to the use of open-D-minor tuning (low to high: D A D F A D). The guitarist picked up this tuning from a fellow Mississippi musician, Henry Stuckey, who had learned it from Caribbean soldiers while serving in France during World War I. James used open D minor to create insistently repeating musical motifs, often based on just one or two chords, for hypnotic effect.
Skip James’ work is characterized by haunting themes, due in no small part to the use of open-D-minor tuning (low to high: D A D F A D). The guitarist picked up this tuning from a fellow Mississippi musician, Henry Stuckey, who had learned it from Caribbean soldiers while serving in France during World War I. James used open D minor to create insistently repeating musical motifs, often based on just one or two chords, for hypnotic effect.