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John Francis: Urdu Blue for 11 string solo guitar

John Francis performs his composition "Urdu Blue" for eleven-string alto guitar (altgitarr) on August 19, 2012 at Chained Sky studios in Wichita, Kansas. John used a cut capo to barre the 3rd, 4th and 5th strings at the second fret. This simulates the open tuning of DADGAD, while maintaining standard relationships for fretted notes.

The alto's five extra bass strings normally drop diatonically as F-Eb-D-C-Bb. This would be like D-C-B-A-G on a standard guitar. They may also be tuned to fit a particular key. For "Urdu Blue" John raises the eighth to "E" (read as C#) and the eleventh is dropped to "A" (read as F#). Except for the seventh string, the extra basses are not usually fretted, but are played open. The alto allows for the unaltered performance of Renaissance and Baroque lute literature and enables nice arrangements of piano works such as this one. It opens new horizons for the guitar. This particular alto-guitar was dubbed "Carollos" by the inventor, Georg Bolin of Sweden and was built to order, in 1984, for late American guitarist and teacher Dave Markle. This is the second such guitar Francis has owned.


John Francis is an American guitarist and composer. He is best known for his use of extended-range classical guitars and his eclectic compositional style. As a composer and arranger for over thirty years, Francis has written & arranged music in styles ranging from Baroque to Blues, from Celtic to Rock, from Jazz to Samba to eclectic World Music. His primary emphasis has been the guitar in all its varieties.

For other altgitarr videos be sure to check out John's own "Coral Sunset," his arrangements of the Gymnopedies or search for Goran Sollscher on youtube.

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