Forum Activity for @Dusty Turtle

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/21/17 12:41:29AM
858 posts

Am I hearing an echo? Great silkie


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

There are some similarities in both the melodic and harmonic structures of the tunes but there is one big difference: "She Goes Through the Fair" is in 4/4 time whereas "The Great Silkie of Sule Skerry" is in 3/4.

 

On a related note, my brain always confuses "Blackest Crow" and  "Parting Glass" and they also differ in time signature.  But the melodies are oh so similar.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/20/17 10:17:54PM
858 posts

The technician and the artist


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

Diana, truth be told, there is technique and artistry involved in both hands. But Bing's main point is certainly to emphasize the right hand. Too many players worry solely about where to put their (left-hand) fingers on the fretboard. But it is the right hand that determines how softly or loudly we play, whether the tone is delicate or forceful, whether we hit all the strings or just one or two, whether we play exactly on the beat or just ahead or behind it, whether we play things straight or "swing" a bit, whether we accent strums, skip strums, mute strums, whether we play a block chord or an arpeggio, etc.

And when we play in a group, if you make a mistake with your left hand it disappears as soon as the next note is played. But if your right-hand rhythm is off, then your mistakes continue throughout and you are likely to stand out.

I would suggest that the main difference between the great dulcimer players and the rest of us is their superior control of the right hand.  Most of us can follow the tablature written by those folks, so our left hand goes where it is supposed to, but we don't sound as rich and expressive as they do because we have ignored our right hand as we've learned to play.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/20/17 01:00:49PM
858 posts

Discussions on Tablets/Apps have been MOVED to one location


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

This move makes so much sense, Strumelia. It is so hard to find discussion when they are posted in the General Music Forum or Beginners Group. We need to start encouraging people to make better use of the thematic groups here.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/19/17 01:36:23PM
858 posts

Fret Material


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Another issue to think about.

I'm not a builder, so I have no real expertise in this area. But I would assume that the lower the action the less wear on the frets.  Lower action is also easier on the fingers and facilitates faster and easier playing. It might be that you are pushing down hard because your action is high.  Maybe you could look into adjusting the action in addition to get new frets.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/15/17 01:23:57PM
858 posts

Blizzard in Northeast/March 14th 2017


Off Topic discussions

lots of snow = lots of hot chocolate

It seems insignificant, but perhaps the main thing I regret about raising a child in California is that she will never know the unparalleled joy of a snow day.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/13/17 11:33:22AM
858 posts

Finger patterns for playing chords - beginner question


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

One problem with the dulcimer is that we have to play up and down the fretboard a lot more than guitarists do.  A guitarist has two full octaves between E strings and can often stay in one fretting position for long stretches, obviating the need to stare at the fretboard.  But on the dulcimer we have to slide up and down the fretboard a lot more, something that requires looking at your hand.  I can move from 0-0-2 to 1-0-1 to 0-1-3 without looking, but if we're on A G chord and the melody notes moves from G to B to D, just a basic arpeggio, I am going to move from 0-1-3 to 3-3-5 to 5-6-7, and even though two of my fingers are staying on the same strings, I am going to have to look at the fretboard while I do this.  

I don't see what's wrong with watching what you're doing anyway. I'm sure Yo-Yo Ma watches his hands on the fretboard, too.

I was also taught to use middle, ring, and pinky fingers to fret that barre chord and find it very useful for the reasons Mike states.  However, it doesn't necessarily work for every arrangement, so if you haven't developed ingrained habits yet, I urge everyone to learn to play every chord using multiple fingerings.  Be as flexible as possible.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/10/17 01:54:24PM
858 posts

Tunes in the key of A major


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Technically, the fingering does change, in the sense that an A in DAd at the nut would be 1-2-4 or the lazy version I use: 101, and an A with a capo at the fourth fret is 0-0-6+, with those open strings really being the fourth fret where the capo is.

However, if you think of your chords as I, IV, and V rather than D, G, and A or A, D, and E, then your fingering doesn't change at all.

I just improvised a video showing how I use a capo in a DAd tuning to play in D, G, and A without changing any fingering.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/10/17 11:22:47AM
858 posts

Tunes in the key of A major


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

A big question that we haven't addressed is the style of play. An EAA tuning might be easier for a drone player, but if you play with chords you have to learn a whole new set of fingerings. It would be like learning a new instrument.  The advantage of a capo is that you can use all the chords you've already learned. And the limitation of not playing below the capo is less of a problem if you play across all the strings.

But look at how many options we've explored for playing in A!

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/10/17 01:31:52AM
858 posts

Tunes in the key of A major


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

What Jan is showing here is that you can play in A even without using a capo.  If you use a capo, though, it  can be even easier. All the 4s in her chords would essentially be open strings requiring no fingering at all.

 

Additionally, if you think of the Do as residing on the bass string, and you play across the strings rather than staying on that one string, you can go up an octave and a half without moving out of 1st position.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/10/17 12:18:05AM
858 posts

Tunes in the key of A major


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Strumelia:

Dusty, if you capo on the 4th, you also won't have the G# available on the melody and bass strings- you'll only have a G natural on those outer strings- it'd be like not having the 6.5 fret.

That's true, but if you need it, you can get the note on the middle string.


Quote: (Kitchen Girl and Road to L. both sound more like minor, not major tunes to me?- with no sharps?)

Kitchen Girl has a minor part and a major part.  And Road to Lisdoonvarna is indeed in a minor key.  But with the capo at 4, the 6+ fret functions as a 1+ fret, giving you the minor third note of the scale.


Quote: Dulcimers have certain whole/half fret placements that mean you can't just move a capo up and down to get any key you want- unless it's a chromatically fretted instrument like a guitar, banjo, or a chromatic dulcimer.

Definitely true, which is why it is so difficult to play in other keys out of a standard dulcimer tuning.  I generally retune to get other keys.   But the capo can help for G and A.  The very first tune I ever saw played on the dulcimer is Stephen Seifert's Whiskey Before Breakfast video on YouTube.  He plays the song with the capo at the 4th fret, putting him in A major. I regularly play Indian on a Stump and Booth Shot Lincoln in A using the capo at 4.  It may not work for every tune, but it works for a lot of them.


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 03/10/17 12:22:24AM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/09/17 11:01:59PM
858 posts

Tunes in the key of A major


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

So the easy answer here is indeed to capo at the fourth fret and play everything you know for the key of D. You'll be playing in A.  Folks do that sometimes to match the keys of standard tunes at old timey or bluegrass jams.  Kitchen Girl, for example, is usually played in A, as is Salt Creek. Sally Goodin', Sourwood Mountain, and more.

What I don't get is the motivation here. Are there songs you want to play in A or do you just feel like playing in A for the fun of it?

Gary Gallier has arranged a few tunes in A out of a standard DAd tuning. But those are some pretty fancy tunes with very careful picking.  Since the D note is found in both the D and G chord, that low string sounds OK when you play in D and G, but it will be out-of-place in A, so you have to be really careful and only hit that bass string when you are playing a D chord. When you are playing an A or E chord you cannot hit that open bass string at all.

See Gary's arrangements of Kitchen Girl and Road to Lisdoonvarna from the tablature page of his website.

Personally, when I want to play in A I use a baritone dulcimer tuned AEa.  Simple, huh?

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/09/17 07:06:38PM
858 posts

WANTED- Chromatic Dulcimers for sale out there?


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

That might be Brian G, a member here who has an ad up in this very forum!  Check it out here.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/09/17 06:53:04PM
858 posts

Finger patterns for playing chords - beginner question


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

Nice post, Jan.  I was struggling with how to respond to the "memorization" question.  I personally have trouble with tab for the very reason lwlittle mentions: how do you look at the fretboard and the tab simultaneously? I sometimes use tab to learn tunes, but that learning process does not involve memorization per se.  Rather, as Jan explains, I get the tune in my head and then play it on the fretboard.  The more you watch the fretboard while you play, the easier that gets.

If you can sing a song well enough to hit more or less the right note for more or less the right duration, then you can learn to play without tab.  After all, when you sing "Happy Birthday" or "I've Been Working on the Railroad" or "Jingle Bells," your brain is making a connection between the distance between notes and how wide your larynx opens.  And you can't even see or feel your larynx!  Learning to connect the distance between notes and the distance on a fretboard is much easier than learning to sing since you can hear, see, and feel that distance on the fretboard and the position of your fingers.

Rather than starting with tab and trying to memorize it, I would start with songs you already know, as Jan did with Lock Lomond.  With a song in your head, try to find the melody on the dulcimer. If you've never tried this before, start with Mary Had a Little Lamb or Hot Cross Buns. If you feel silly with those songs, play Da Doo Ron Ron (which has the same three notes as the others and no more!)  If you hit a note that's flat. move higher up the fretboard. If you hit a note that's too high, move lower on the fretboard.  Watch the fretboard while you play. Eventually you can move to more complicated tunes.  

Once you get pretty good at that with really easy songs you've known all your life, you can start doing it with more interesting songs. But it all starts with getting the music in your head so you "know" it and don't have to "memorize" anything. Each song you figure out makes the next one easier.  You can still refer to tab as a quick reminder, but you should be able to just play.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/09/17 02:16:07AM
858 posts

Finger patterns for playing chords - beginner question


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

These are not actually beginner questions and they kind of open up that proverbial bag or worms.

 

The way I look at it is that I need all the help I can get.  Both my pinky and thumb are invited to the party. You are right that some dulcimer players (such as Stephen Seifert) never use their thumb.  Others (such as Guy Babusek) use their thumbs a lot and never use their pinky. As I said, I use both, and I let the context determine my choice.  

My golden rule is to minimize movement.  So as I move from one chord to the next, I try to have at least one finger that stays on the same string, so that you slide into a chord rather than having to lift up your whole hand and reposition it.  Sometimes that alone will dictate what fingers you use.

As for the barre chord, most people use three fingers, either their middle, ring, and pinky or their index, middle, and ring.  The only person I know of who only uses his pinky is Aaron O'Rourke.  He barres with his pinky and then has three fingers for fretting strings. However, his dulcimer has a radiused fretboard made exactly to fit the curve of his finger.  If you were to try to play like that I think it would hurt.  Stephen Seifter barres with hisring finger backed up by his pinky.  But as I said, almost everyone else plays the barre chord with three different fingers.

One thing to consider both regarding whether to use your thumb and regarding which three fingers to use for the barre, is how the dulcimer is positioned on your lap.  If you play with your thumb and you play the barre chord with your index, middle, and ring fingers, you are going to want to angle the head of the dulcimer far out over your knee.  If you don't use your thumb and you play the barre with your middle, ring, and pinky finger, your dulcimer may still angle out a bit, but the head will be closer to your body and the dulcimer will be closer to perpendicular to your legs.  This is simply an issue creating a comfortable angle for your left hand to attack the fretboard.

Having said all this, Ken's points below are basically right.  You need to find a way to fret the strings so that it's comfortable to you.  If you find yourself contorting into all sorts of weird and uncomfortable positions, stop what you're doing and find a way to fret those strings in a more comfortable manner.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/07/17 09:12:21PM
858 posts

Galax dulcimer for sale


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

As long as you're playing the dulcimer, it's all good.  

But if you're playing the dulcimer so much that you can't learn to use the computer enough to buy a wonderful galax dulcimer, then perhaps an intervention is necessary.spaghetti

 

(I have no idea what a spaghetti-eating smiley means, but I had to use it once.)

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/06/17 10:50:02PM
858 posts

Galax dulcimer for sale


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

Guys, I see no reason why the following/personal message process would work for others and not you.

 

Once you are following each other, go to your "Private Messages" by hovering your cursor over your username and clicking on "Private Messages" in the drop down menu.

Home   fotmd.com 3.png

 

Then click "New Message."

Your Private Messages   fotmd.com.png

 

Then start to type the recipient's name in the recipient line and look for your intended recipient in the auto-fill list that will pop up.  Click on it when it appears. Then choose a subject for your message, type your message, and click "Send."

 

New Message   fotmd.com 2.png

 

 


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 03/06/17 10:51:17PM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/06/17 05:10:02PM
858 posts

Recommendations for new strings and new a bridge?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

For string gauges, I usually send people to the Strothers' String Gauge Calculator.  You simply enter the vibrating string length (VSL, or the distance between the nut and the bridge) and the note you want to tune to, and the calculator will tell you what gauge to use. It errs on the light side, so feel free to use a size or two larger.

For a dulcimer with a 27" VSL, I would imagine a wound .022 or .024 for the bass, . 012 or .014 for the middle, and .010 or .012 would work for a DAd tuning.  I use slightly heavier strings than that, but you'll have to discover your preference.

The bass string is almost always wound and heavier than the others, but if you are tuned DAAA, then the melody string(s) and the middle strings would indeed be the same.

I don't really know what to say about the material for the bridge and nut.  Hardwoods work well but so does bone, and there are some synthetics that people are using these days as well.  Maybe one of the luthiers can chime in and offer some advice.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/06/17 12:34:14PM
858 posts

Tell us about your VERY FIRST dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

@majajog, that's a great story, and probably one that is repeated often, for one of the aspects of the dulcimer that we celebrate is how accessible it is even to those with no musical experience.  Thanks to the McSpadden salesperson who just sat you down and put a dulcimer in your lap!

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/05/17 05:54:59PM
858 posts

What's your favorite FOTMD smiley?


Off Topic discussions

The cat wagging its tail  catdance is pure Strumelia, for sure!

Bob, I like the dancing pickle pimento  but also the dancing guy silhouette mrdance.

And Lexie, Smiley deserves his own smiley! hamster Let's pretend that's a hamster chew toy smiley.

Jan has pointed out the sweetest smiley of all comfort .  It almost makes me tear up.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/05/17 05:45:59PM
858 posts

Laurel Mountain Mini Dulcimer for sale - $150


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

I guess Dave beat me to it. If something falls through, let me know.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/05/17 04:31:14AM
858 posts

The Positive Thread...


Off Topic discussions

I just got a new head for my all metal (zinc and chrome) Dixie banjo-uke.  The instrument is pretty old, for most were made in the 1950s, but I was told some elements of this one indicate it's much older than that.  I rescued it from my grandparents attic when I was about 10.  The head was broken on it then, but I convinced a guy at the Music Emporium in Cambridge, MA to put a head on for $10, which was all the money I had at the time, and I had to save up to accumulate that much.  Everything was fine for decades until I moved to California's Central Valley, which in most years is drier than the Serengeti. I left the uke in a closet and when I retrieved it I found the head had turned really brittle and sported a long tear. I finally found someone at Nicholson Music in Folsom (yes, near the prison) who was willing to custom-stretch a skin for me.  Now this baby looks pretty nice and clean, and although it doesn't sound terribly good, it is not terrible, either.  I'm just glad it's back to playable shape.

Dixie banjouke with new head small file rotated.jpg

 

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/05/17 04:02:18AM
858 posts

The Positive Thread...


Off Topic discussions

Jan Potts: In about 10 days I'll be teaching a music theory class at the Ohio Valley Gathering.  This will be the third year I've taught one or more of the workshop sessions and you'd think it would get easier, but I seem to get very stressed out about it every time!  I guess my biggest fear is that I'll get a group who won't understand anything I'm saying and will keep saying "I don't get it" until I want to tear my hair out.  
 

 

Jan, so how did your theory class go?  It's true, you probably can't reach everyone, but I'm sure you saw that star in several people's eyes that let you know they just made some kind of connection they never did before.


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 03/05/17 04:03:05AM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/05/17 03:12:11AM
858 posts

What's your favorite FOTMD smiley?


Off Topic discussions

I thought this might be fun.  Have you noticed the new smileys that Strumelia has made available to us?  Do you have any favorites?

 

It's rain today and I just finished dulcimer so I thought I might ask if you guys heart certain smileys or if they just make you want to puking.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
02/26/17 02:52:15PM
858 posts

Which is middle C for Dulcimer tuning - C3 or C4


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Perhaps this page from Get Tuned will help.  Your low D is the D below middle C and your middle string is tuned to the A below middle C.


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 02/26/17 02:54:00PM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
02/24/17 02:02:02PM
858 posts

Galax dulcimer for sale


FOR SALE:instruments/music items/CDs/Wanted to Buy...

I agree with everyone else, Robert. This dulcimer both sounds and looks absolutely beautiful. Impressive work.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
02/22/17 11:58:16AM
858 posts

Single or Double Melody Strings?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

Sometimes questions are posed at the wrong time and get covered up by other recent activity.  

I played with a double melody string for a few years, arrogantly assuming that because I also play the mandolin and 12-string guitar I could ignore all those people suggesting I remove the extra melody string. But now I see the error of my ways.  I only play with three strings now, and my favorite dulcimer is m Modern Mountain Dulcimer partly because it only has three strings and somehow seems more streamlined that way.  I find a single melody string just provides a much cleaner sound, and as others have pointed out, a single string is easier for hammer-ons and pull-offs.  Plus,it is impossible to accurately bend a double string.

It can't hurt to build dulcimers with four strings in case people want to play with 4 equidistant strings.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
02/17/17 12:18:36PM
858 posts

MEET THE MODERATORS...


Site QUESTIONS ? How do I...?

Hi John.  That's a good question. Before I answer it, let me point out that we have a Forum discussion for questions about how to use this site.  It is called "Site Questions?  How do I . . . ?" You can click on the link I just created or you can just choose "Forums" from the toolbar on the top of your screen and choose it from the list of Forum topics that have been created.  That is the place where any questions about how to do anything on this site should be posed.

Now to your question . . . we don't really have "friends" here at FOTMD, we just have followers.  But it's basically the same thing. If you and another member follow each other you are able to send private messages that will only be seen by the two of you.  To follow someone, click on their name to go to their homepage, and then click on the "Follow" button. I have made a screen shot of your homepage and have circled the "Follow" button so you can see it clearly.

John W. McKinstry   fotmd.com.png

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once you "Follow" someone, I think they have to accept you or Follow you back, but they will be notified to respond.  To try this out, when I finish posting this response to you, I am going to follow you.  Let's see if it works.


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 02/17/17 12:28:13PM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
02/16/17 10:49:03PM
858 posts

Gold Tone Dulciborn - thoughts, reviews?


Instruments- discuss specific features, luthiers, instrument problems & questions

I think Alan touches on a couple of critical issues here.  The first is that nearly all of these instruments need some kind of work on the fretboard to make them playable.  Why is that?  A weissenborn guitar does not have frets.  You don't play it like a guitar. You play it like a dobro, meaning the strings are lifted up above the fretboard and you use a slide--or tone bar--in the left hand to create the notes on the strings.  So when modifying this design for a dulcimer, we have a big problem, don't we?  We have to add frets to be able to fret the strings with a finger or noter, which mandates carefully plotting the frets on the fretboard and also getting the action right so that it will both be comfortable and also have correct intonation.  This makes a hybrid weissenborn/dulcimer different than those banjo/dulcimer or ukulele/dulcimer hybrids since those other instruments also have frets and are therefore build with appropriate action.

I personally love the sound of the dulciborn, but I think that's because I grew up on guitars rather than dulcimers, so I am still attracted to that deep, rich, round tone rather than the traditional high silvery tone of dulcimers.  And people like FOTMD's own Christine Shoemaker demonstrate clearly what this instrument has to offer.  However, I think Gold Tone dropped the ball by launching the sale of these instruments before fixing the action/intonation problem.  I would encourage anyone buying one (even used) to contact Gold Tone and have them fix the instrument rather than paying someone at your local guitar shop.

In terms of organology, we have always been taught that instruments in the zither family are strung across the box, whereas instruments in the lute family are strung along a neck. That is what Matt Berg refers to below.  But the weissenborn itself is already a hybrid between the two because the neck is hollow, and therefore a continuation of the box, allowing the sound to vibrate within. So it is already a hybrid zither/lute.  Removing some of the frets for a diatonic fretboard is a minor change to what is already a mutt of an instrument.

Of course, I use the term "mutt" in an endearing way, as my own little furry guy knows. toivo

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
02/16/17 02:19:14PM
858 posts

New Airlines' Rules Affect Those Traveling with Instruments


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Thanks for the warning, Jan.   I guess we're going to have to be careful to assure the ability to board early.  

I travel Southwest a lot for work and have priority boarding for at least another year.  Southwest has open seating but gives people a boarding number.  I am usually between 25 and 30.  I would encourage everyone to try to stick to a single airline and join their mileage plan.  They just seem to treat you better when they think of you as a repeat customer instead of someone they'll never see again.

And it might not help specifically with getting an instrument in the overhead bin, but if you fly more than a couple of times a year it might be worth it to get a known traveler number from the TSA.  It costs $85 for five years, but you get to go through the TSA pre-check lines and don't have to take off your shoes or your jacket or take out your laptop or your shampoo or any of that stuff.  You fly (hee hee) through an alternate security line and get right to the gate. I also think the airline personnel treat you better when they see that TSA pre-check indication on your boarding pass.

 / 29