April Come She Will (Simon & Garfunkel)
General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
I just happened upon this. Art Garfunkel has such a lovely voice, and presents songs so beautifully. I have loved this song since I was about ten.
A few days ago at my ballroom studio (where I dance, not which I own ) we did a "quadrille." It reminded me of scenes from Jane Austen movies. We were one person short of two group of eight; I suggested calling someone in from the street, but instead they used a large balloon of Mickey Mouse as a place holder (but he couldn't go round the circle weaving between the "follows," aka the ladies. Actually I think Mickey was a follow, he would have needed to weave between the leads).
Anyway, it was fun. In ballroom we don't usually do such organized formation. It's just a bunch of couples waltzing or foxtrotting and making sure to avoid colliding with each other.
I'll have to see whether (or where!) there is a contra dance here in Los Angeles county. You know there's gotta be one.
I learned of this when I received my magazine yesterday. Ashley said she would keep the website up, and the festival and club directories.
I'd like to see some sort of blog or continued articles online if not in print. That's my wish anyway. I feel like the dulcimer community has done amazingly on embarking on the new online adventure. We still need a way to stay connected with the community as a whole. I do, anyway.
Well, I have another one! I found it on the goodwill site. It looks like a Black Mountain, but has no label.
I'll post some pictures of some of my dulcimers a little later.
This one came with only one string (the bass string); also the saddle is a bit damaged and the nut is a bit out of place. So I'm going to take it to my favorite luthier down the road.
I do second Dusty's recommendation for reading Jean Ritchie's Dulcimer Book. She starts from the standpoint of playing traditional melody-drone style. Not that it's wrong to gobble up all the information you can, I tend to do that as well!
Another good starting-out book is Cripple Creek Dulcimer, by Bud and Donna Ford. That's another "somewhat older" book, and it teaches about the various modes and how to tune to them. As I remember it's less focused on chords.
Those are some of the books I cut my dulcimer teeth on when I was learning in the mid-90's. I love the modal tunings. One thing I like about the 6+ fret is that it gives me two modes in one tuning.
(By the way, I want a bim-bim-BOM button too! Or maybe a T-shirt...)
I just realized we'll be visiting our daughter and her family in Colorado Springs that day...they do have a nice porch, so I'll make sure to go out there! I might also try to record something in advance, to post on that day.
I think some of the dulcimer renaissance pioneers developed their own ways of thinking and talking about theory and dulcimer playing. For instance Force and d'Ossche playing the dulcimer with it "sideways" on a strap, though they still fretted and strummed "overhand" like lap players would. And I've heard people refer to tunings as "AAD" or "CAD", treble to bass.
Wally, that's a good idea.
What I've sometimes done is use one of those clear plastic zipper pouches to hold all the little accessories. Although some pliers kind of need a pouch of their own, because they are clunkier. And now I have a little pick holder I love, that holds my 6 or 8 favorite picks (gleaned from an extensive pick-testing project).
Right now I'm thinking of a pouch to hold a bunch of extra strings and a dollar store nail clipper for emergencies...
Thanks everyone! This gives me more of an idea of what to look for. I agree that the cheapest won't be necessarily the best in this case.
I did see diagonal cutting pliers online, and they looked like a good tool. But perhaps I'll go to Home Depot and look at the pliers and cutters in person.
As far as nail clippers, I do have a pair that isn't as great for nails, maybe I should try repurposing it!
Yesterday I changed the strings on a new-to-me vintage dulcimer, and I borrowed my husband's 8-inch wire cutters because I couldn't find mine. Today I was looking on Amazon for some small wire cutters, but most of them say "don't use these for steel wire."
I figure I need some wire cutters small enough to get in there and snip the wires close to the tuner, but strong enough to last. Or should I just plan on replacing the wire cutters every so often? (Admittedly it takes me awhile to get around to changing the strings, so cheap ones might last awhile if I can keep track of them. But I'd like to have some good ones.)
What do you use for cutting strings?
Ken, I found it on shopgoodwill.com, the auction site. Goodwill organizations from all over the country sell on there. The seller was actually Missouri Goodwill Industries, but you never know how it got there and from whence it came.
There are usually a few interesting dulcimers on that site. I check in every so often.
I have this beautiful dulcimer, which I found on the Goodwill auction site. It is diatonic, so I'm guessing it's not very recent, but the style of the bird soundholes looks somewhat modern to me. So I'm guessing possibly 70's or early 80's, early in the big resurgence. The dogwood flower on the peghead of course makes me think of Kentucky, but there are several other states where the dogwood is common and beloved.
It came with ebony pegs, but they drove me crazy trying to tune it, so I had them replaced with geared pegs so I could actually enjoy playing it. The VSL is a little longer than I'm comfortable with--it's 27.88 inches, and my comfort zone is more like 25-26 for fingerdance; I'm going to try tuning it in DAA/DAG so I can play more in the center of the fretboard, and I'm also going to try using a noter.
The style of the soundholes makes it tricky to see inside, but I tried today with a flashlight and I don't see any label in there. Has anyone seen a dulcimer similar to this, and do you know who might have made it? What with all the pretty details, as well as the arched fretboard, I can't believe it's a one-off.
I'm partly curious and I partly wanted to share this pretty dulcimer.
I have a couple more dulcimers since I last posted!
I have a Cripple Creek "Aspen Leaf," which is shaped rather like a Galax dulcimer--more of an oval than a teardrop. Came from eBay and needed some work to get it playable. But I love the leaves-and-vines soundholes, and it sounds good now.
And, a no-name dulcimer, also from eBay, all mahogany, built by a shipwright.
I previously forgot to mention that I have two "travel size" dulcimers, one from the Dulcimer Factory and one by Rugg and Jackel.
Most of mine are diatonic, and I'm thinking of having the 6+ fret added to a couple of them.
I played on the balcony for awhile Saturday morning. Realized that was roomier than the front stoop! I played "Wondrous Love," "Nottamun Town," and "Cluck Old Hen," tuned in DAG Dorian.
I posted a video to Instagram, but they cropped it to a square and you can't see the dulcimer! (I didn't know till friends commented.) Ah well! I may not wait a year to do another one.
I'm going to start telling people I play the Fence Scorpion.
This is a good question...When I was learning to play, I learned the tunings for different modes, and so I would re-tune to play a particular tune. However, I like having more than one dulcimer, because I don't want to re-tune the same instrument all the time. I will tune from DAA to DAG, or from DAd to DAC, but I don't like to do more than that very often.
I do like having a 6 1/2 fret, because it gives me two modes for each tuning. For example, if I'm tuned to DAG Dorian, a minor tuning, I also can play in the Mixolydian, which is a major tuning.
As a melody-drone player, I actually feel somewhat limited by the DAD tuning. The root note of the scale is on the open string, and so melodies that go below that root note are more challenging to play. You can (usually) play those notes on the middle or bass strings, but I have a bit of a preference for having my melody notes on my melody string. I like using a tuning that places the root note a few steps toward the middle, as DAA does. Sometimes I consider inventing a fretboard that does just what I want it to do...
Hmm, I just counted and I have nine dulcimers!
the Cripple Creek kit I built in 1996
a Folk Roots dulcimer a friend gave me
two Black Mountains, one cherry and one walnut
an unknown dulcimer that looks like a Black Mountain, possibly built from a kit
Another unknown with the names "Bodd & Eye" engraved inside
Yet another unknown with inlay trim around the edges
a Russ Green hourglass
a little "board dulcimer" by a man in Kentucky, which I got for travel
All except the first two came to me from eBay or shopgoodwill dot com. I've been learning what I like in a dulcimer. I love finding different quirky unknown instruments, and it's a wonder I don't have a dozen or more yet. I also plan to have extra frets added to a couple.
I do envy those of you who have made several, but I'm hoping to do that myself when I make space in the garage.
I'm popping in to agree to the time zone comments. I've attended a few workshops at 7:30 am (I'm on the west coast), but when I was registering for Quarantune 3.0 I basically decided that for the most part I wasn't going to consider the first and second sessions, the earliest of which started at 5:30 am for me. I did do one super early one that presented Scottish melodies, which my husband approved of (I warned him beforehand)
There were some folk from the U.K. attending in the wee small hours, and I applaud them!
Hello, Andi, and welcome! I know how it feels to be the only dulcimer player you know.
If you're able to attend virtual groups or classes, that might help you with learning. I've found virtual festivals to be a great help to me recently. This weekend I've been taking classes at a festival based in Albany, New York, and there are people attending from Germany and Britain.
But in any case, there are people here who will be happy to encourage you in any way we can.
I did have another thought about a benefit virtual festivals have given me--they are helping me get to know who's out there, in terms of well-known teachers and players, and giving me the chance to learn from those people.
I built my first dulcimer from a kit in '96, and attended the Southern California Harvest Festival of Dulcimers in '97 and '98. I attended some wonderful workshops with Neal Hellman, Mark Nelson, Lois Hornbostel, Ruth Barrett and Cyntia Smith. About that time my fourth child was born, and I was really busy for awhile. I still played, but I was basically the only dulcimer player I knew, except for a dear lady who lived near my parents in Kentucky.
When I went to register for the festivals in November, I had never heard of any of these people--except Lois Hornbostel, who taught at the North Georgia festival, and you can believe I attended a couple of her workshops! But it was great to realize I could go learn from this one and that one, and get to "know" them.
(Actually I was dimly aware of Robert Force, who taught at the Florida festival, and it was great to learn from him!)
Neal Hellman was on the faculty of Quarantune 3.0 (I missed the first two), and I enjoyed a wonderful class with him.
But I've been really solitary in terms of playing dulcimer for a long time, and the virtual workshops help me get back with the dulcimer community. This website is helping with that too. And I want to start dropping in on virtual jam sessions.
(and I should probably go check out the informal Zoom meetings at the Albany festival; I missed yesterday's.)
@dusty-turtle, thank you for that detailed response. Wow, thank you for taking the time!
I play fingerdance with a flatpick, mostly melody-drone; I'm getting back into playing with a noter sometimes, and I want to fingerpick more (I found a video on this site of fingerpicking "Wayfaring Stranger" and I was captivated). I've been really working on making the notes flow together. I want to develop my hammer-ons and pull-offs and other techniques. I agree that not letting go of the strings too quickly does a lot to make them sound connected!
I need to re-read all you wrote and let it sink in.
Pondoro, that makes sense to me. At the smaller festivals, like the Stephen Foster Dulcimer Retreat last November, they had several informal sessions and they had a "jam" every day. Of course we all couldn't have our microphones all at once, but we could jam along with whoever was leading. At the bigger ones they don't seem to do that as much.
Good idea. I think it will be an active discussion. I was tempted to do start one myself, but it was your idea!
I've done it, come on over! :)
I've been getting back into playing dulcimer after a hiatus of several years, and one thing I've done is to "go" to several virtual festivals. I've "been" to Florida, Georgia, and wherever Quarantune is based, and tomorrow I'll be "in" Albany.
I've found it to be a really good boost for me personally. I was already familiar with Zoom, so that wasn't a problem. And I've gotten to learn some wonderful music from some amazing teachers. I couldn't have traveled to all those places.
It's also helped me think about my own goals in playing. One thing I've wanted is to develop technique--to make the notes sound connected, and to find the way I like playing. I keep taking workshops on embellishments. Maybe I've nearly reached saturation point...
I admit that one problem is that it's harder to connect with fellow students. There's not as much opportunity for casual conversation. So being able to go to a live festival will be great, when we're able to do that.
Have you been to any virtual festivals yet? What do you think?
I've been getting back into playing after a hiatus of several years, and I've found the virtual festivals to be helpful to me in getting back into the swing. Not every workshop is a perfect match, but sometimes you strike gold.
I think I'll start that thread in the General forum so we can continue the discussion there. ;)
Excellent point, Strumelia, about the specific thread titles! I do try to do that.
Dusty, thanks for mentioning the DPN festival directory! Actually, back in October I found a link to it on there, and before I knew it I was signing up for the Stephen Foster Dulcimer Retreat!
I wanted to give an update. I was using this dulcimer during some Quarantune workshops, and while listening to the instructor(s) I was kind of idly scraping at the adhesive with my fingernail Well, by the end of the second workshop, the adhesive was just about gone! I rubbed at the remains with my finger to finish the job. The fretboard looks great now, and I'm happy to say there were no rectangles to show where the fretboard had darkened around the labels.
On the subject of adhesive, I have another dulcimer, a Black Mountain by Dave Johnston, that had residue where a strip of duct tape had been put across the back for some reason. (It came to me via eBay, so the prior history is a mystery.) I tried a bit of cooking oil on that, and also scraped with an old credit card, which was quite effective. The dulcimer needs refinishing, so I am thinking of contacting Mr. Johnston to ask for his advice.
Hi again Dusty! I guess my topic is more like the good/bad of online festivals. Sometimes the organizers haven't posted their event on the event pages--maybe they need a publicity person to do that --so posting there wouldn't be very effective.
I'll try starting a discussion in the General forum. Actually I have managed pretty well with the technology. And I'm so grateful for the chance to keep getting inspired without having to travel. I hope to get in on the Berkeley Gathering in a couple of months!
(Another question!) This weekend I'm attending my fourth virtual festival (the one hosted by the Dulcimer Association of Albany), and I was wondering about chatting about virtual festivals on here. I haven't seen any discussions of festivals. Is that something that would be okay to post about, and where?
Is there a place on FOTMD that I just haven't found yet, or do people mostly do their chatting on the Facebook page of the particular festival? Or in the other Facebook dulcimer groups? I feel like a forum gives a place for more "focused" chat, in that the threads "stay put," whereas Facebook posts are sometimes harder to track down (and sometimes I don't have the mental energy for Facebook!).
Hope to see some of you "in" Albany!
I have been doing a rather extensive project of trying out picks on my dulcimers to see what sounds I liked, and wanted to chat with forum members about their pick preferences. I know there are some older discussions about this. Do you prefer that I tag onto one of the older ones, or should I start a new one?
I personally feel that if it's been a couple of years since a thread was updated, I'd just as soon start a new one rather than add onto an old discussion. But I know that different forums have different feelings about this.
Thank you all! And Strumelia, I appreciate the advice about careful application. I wouldn't have thought about that danger.
Dusty, I was concerned about the fretboard having lighter rectangles under the stickers, but that doesn't seem to be the case. So I was thankful for that!