Leo Kottke’s seminal recording 6- and 12-String Guitar (Takoma C1024), released at the end of 1969, was a fresh admixture of dazzling technique and expressive depth. Altogether, the compositions sketched out a new landscape for the future of finger-style guitar. “The Tennessee Toad” is an evocative composition which creates an unusual atmosphere. The guitar is tuned to open C but the piece sounds in G minor. Playing against the tuning allows new and surprising music to emerge.
This detailed transcription corresponds to the original recording. On this recording, Kottke is playing his original Gibson B-45-12 12-string guitar, in open C tuning, tuned approximately three half-steps low. The resultant pitches are A3 A2 E4 E3 A4 A3 E4 E3 A3 A3 C#4 C#4.
Kottke wrote “The Tennessee Toad” just prior to the recording of 6- and 12-String Guitar in Minneapolis in 1968. It was a regular part of his performance repertoire through the late 1970s.
A video of Kottke’s performance of “The Tennessee Toad” on the German television show Rockpalast on January 11, 1977: