Many of Joni Mitchell's tunings are based on the traditional D and G tunings. For example, a simple way to visualize the C tuning is to think of it as the D tuning tuned one step lower. Joni's current favourite tuning is called the "Canadian" tuning (the origins of this tuning are not clear) -- really just the D tuning with the D (4th) string tuned up a whole tone to E (e.g., "Passion Play"). For other songs in this tuning, the strings are still tuned the same in relation to each other, but a semitone or a tone lower ("Sunny Sunday", "Yvette in English"). Don't forget, Joni's voice has lowered over the years, so songs she used to sing in D tuning, for example, may be in C tuning for current live versions.
Guitarists who do not read music can consult the online guitar archives web site, which has tabs for many Joni songs, including examples of the number method of denoting different tunings. Many of these tabs give detailed left-hand chord shapes as well. You can reach this site at the following link:
OLGA GUITAR ARCHIVES
There are two newsgroups that occasionally include tabs of Joni's songs. They are
I am currently working on a revised page that will include Joni's own number system for denoting her different tunings. This simplified system should be a blessing for those who do not read music or who have trouble seeing (or may not care about) the relationship between the tunings.
If you wish more information about these tunings, or if you'd like to point out any errors or share your own discoveries about Joni's tunings, please E-MAIL me.
STANDARD TUNING: E A D G B E: Urge for Going Tin Angel Harlem in Havana D TUNING (and variants): D A D F# A D: Both Sides Now (capo fourth fret) Night in the City (capo fifth fret) Pirate of Penance Cactus Tree (capo fourth fret) That Song About the Midway (capo 2nd fret) Chelsea Morning (capo 2nd fret) Conversation (capo 4th fret) Big Yellow Taxi (capo 2nd fret) You Turn Me On (I'm a Radio) People's Parties A Strange Boy A Bird That Whistles (Corrina, Corrina) D MODAL: D A D E A D: I Had a King (capo 7th fret) D A C F# A D: Barangrill (capo 1st fret) D A D F# G D: The Sire of Sorrow D G D D A D: The Dawntreader D A D G A E (capo 5th fret): The Priest Song C TUNING (and variants): C G C E G C: Raised on Robbery Amelia The Three Great Stimulants (95 live version) B TUNING (and variants): B F# D# D# F# B How Do You Stop? Turbulent Indigo Borderline B F# D# F# B D# Songs to Aging Children Come B F# B B F# B Song to a Seagull CANADIAN TUNING (and variants): D A E F# A D: Love (capo 2nd fret) Passion Play Cherokee Louise C# G# D# E# G# C#: Sunny Sunday C G D E G C : God Must Be a Boogie Man Night Ride Home Yvette in English Love Puts on a New Face (Love Has Many Faces) Love's Cries HEJIRA TUNING (and variants): B F# C# G# F# B: Hejira C G D F G C: My Secret Place Number One Cool Water D A E G A D: In France They Kiss on Main Street (capo 2nd fret) Slouching Toward Bethlehem The Only Joy in Town G TUNING (and variants): D G D G B D: The Circle Game (capo 4th fret) Little Green (capo 4th fret) Marcie Nathan La Franeer Roses Blue Morning Morgantown (capo 2nd fret) Underneath the Streetlight (capo 2nd fret) D A D G B D: Help Me Free Man in Paris C G D G B D: Cold Blue Steel and Sweet Fire Trouble Child Don't Interrupt the Sorrow Sweet Bird G G D G B D (6th and 5th strings an octave apart): For the Roses (capo 3rd fret) Electricity (capo 3rd fret) This Flight Tonight Hunter (The Good Samaritan) F# TUNING: C# F# C# F# A# C#: The Gallery F TUNING (and variants): Bb F C F A C: Otis and Marlena C F C G A C I Don't Know Where I Stand C A C F A C Refuge of the Roads C A C F G C Silky Veils of Ardour C G D F A C Blue Motel Room NORTH CAROLINA TUNING: E E B F# G# B (capo first fret, or F F C G A C) Michael from Mountains CALIFORNIA KITCHEN TUNING: C G D F C E Sisotowbell Lane (capo 2nd fret) Ladies of the Canyon (capo 2nd fret) Woman of Heart and Mind Just Like This Train Shadows and Light (mid-70s live version) Coyote Don Juan's Reckless Daughter C G D G C E: Happiness Is the Best Facelift EDITH'S TUNING: D A E G C E: Jericho Edith and the Kingpin D A E G C D: Talk to Me C G D F Bb D: Furry Sings the Blues Harry's House/Centerpiece MISCELLANEOUS TUNINGS: C G Bb Eb F Bb: Woodstock ('79 and '83 tours) Moon at the Window Sex Kills C G Eb F Bb D: The Wolf That Lives in Lindsey B F# B E A E : Magdalene Laundries D A C E G A: Song for Sharon A A E G C E: The Windfall (Everything for Nothing) Db F Db F Ab Db: Come in from the Cold D A C G A D: Ray's Dad's Cadillac Bb F Db Eb Ab C: Last Chance Lost Bb Bb Db F Ab Bb (fifth and sixth strings an octave apart): Black Crow
Acoustic Guitar (August 1996). "My Secret Place -- The Guitar Odyssey of Joni Mitchell" by Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers. Includes full tab of "Just Like This Train." Plus "Gearbox" -- a piece on JM's favourite guitars.
Guitar Techniques (November 1995). "Big Yellow Taxi." Tab + demo CD.
Musician Magazine (July 1995). "Joni Mitchell's Home Studio" by Bill Flanagan.
Musician Magazine (January/February 1995). "Songs to Aging Children Come. Joni Mitchell Pulls Your Ear." Chip Stern. Includes box on Joni's guitars and tunings.
Musician Magazine. (February 1992). "Guitar." Article on JM's guitar tunings.
LAUNCHED 1/6/96 LAST UPDATE 7/3/96