Harness Joni Mitchell's acoustic imagination with this lesson on dulcimers, altered tunings and cluster chords

Joni Mitchell
(Image credit: Paul Babin)

For Joni Mitchell, songwriting is as much about crafting a tuning as it is about choosing the chords, melodies, or lyrics. Her creative process is a fluid, intuitive blend of many musical elements, drawing on ideas spanning blues and banjo techniques to jazz harmony and indigenous folk songs. 

By her own estimation, she has used more than 50 different tunings over the years – or 80-plus if you count capo'd variants.

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George Howlett is a London-based musician and writer, specializing in jazz, rhythm, Indian classical, and global improvised music.