Introduce Yourself!

jost
@jost
one week ago
68 posts

Welcome Mivo, finally another fellow German Player:)

I started two years ago with a dulcimer from the Klangwerkstatt.

Where do you live in Germany? 

Viel Spass mit deinen neuen Instrument 😀


updated by @jost: 11/25/22 01:41:16PM
Susie
Susie
@susie
one week ago
482 posts

Welcome Mivo. You have a beautiful McSpadden and it sounds like you are well on your way. I agree to take the time to find your style. There are many paths to follow; all are good. 

Regarding fingerpicking vs flatpicking, I have a similar background.  I've been fingerpicking guitar since 1973, and also fingerpick banjo, both with fingerpicks. However, I've chosen to follow the chord-melody route on dulcimer, with a flatpick. I am enjoying  that, despite my fingerpicking experience.  It's all about you and your own choices.  

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
one week ago
2,010 posts

Welcome Mivo!  You have a fabulous journey ahead... enjoy every step.

I thought it interesting that you said "... I also believed it was just for accompaniment, not for solo instrumentals,..."  when in fact it has nearly always through its history been a solo instrument rather than an ensemble member.

As a new player I'll suggest you take a look at the essay/booklet I write a number of years ago for beginning players.  It's called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? .  It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms (so we all speak the same jargon) plus answers to many beginner questions about the tuning, playing care and feeding of your new friend.  You can find it here:

Ken Hulme's "I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?" Article - Strumelia | fotmd.com

Feel free to copy and print it as much as you want.


updated by @ken-hulme: 11/25/22 06:58:04AM
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
one week ago
920 posts

Hello again Mivo. Thanks for sharing the beginning of your dulcimer journey with us. It sounds like you are well under way. You have a very nice McSpadden dulcimer. It will give you a lifetime of pleasure.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Mivo
Mivo
@mivo
one week ago
1 posts

Hi, everyone! I just wanted to drop a note here to say hello.

I'm brand new and rather spontaneously picked up a MacSpadden dulcimer a few days ago after watching some videos that had showed up in my YouTube side bar. I live in Germany where dulcimers are pretty rare beasts, though luckily I found the dulcimer store by Martin Oesterle (I believe he's a member here too) who set aside quite a bit of time to talk to me about dulcimers on the phone and answer my numerous questions. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted, I just knew I didn't want the laminated dulcimer-shaped objects that a big box store sold.

I somewhat play the banjo, ukulele, and the kalimba, and in a way it is surprising that it took me so long to get into the mountain dulcimer. It had shown up on my radar a few years ago, but for some reason I didn't look further into it. I think I saw "three strings" and that sort of lowered my interest a little, thinking it might be too limited. I also believed it was just for accompaniment, not for solo instrumentals, and I felt I already had enough instruments. If I had known how versatile and downright beautiful sounding dulcimers are, I'd probably have been here years ago already. Well, there is a time for everything! :)

I'm still all over the place, absorbing information and experimenting with everything, so I don't really have any preferences yet. I do like the chord melody style quite a bit, but also played a little with that tiny noter that came with my dulcimer.  Flatpicks are a relatively new experience for me as I've always fingerpicked the ukulele and the banjo (I play it with fingerpicks sometimes, but I prefer the "old time" styles of picking with bare fingers for the more organic sound). I quite enjoy the flatpick so far and bought "a few" different ones already. Fingerstyle on the dulcimer hasn't called out to me yet, though in time I'll no doubt try that out too. But I do have these other instruments for fingerpicking and it's nice to learn something new.

Anyway, I'm glad to be here and hope to learn from you all. Here are a handful photos of my dulcimer . I took them outside for the better light. It's just the standard walnut model, though it does have a pick up in case I ever want to plug in or toy around with effect pedals. I have little doubt that this dulcimer will eventually be joined by a friend or two -- but not before I've practiced and improved for some time! If I learned one thing from the Ukulele Acquisition Syndrome that I suffered from a decade ago and successfully recovered from, it is the importance of first practicing and learning before shopping for more!

GinaB
GinaB
@ginab
2 months ago
9 posts

Alathea:

Gina, do you have any breathing tips/exercises for Penny whistle? I’m a vocalist so I’m used to BIG breaths and big sounds (large framed baritone guy). I’ve never played a wind instrument before. I always over blow. 

ill research this Quarentune, also- it sounds like a blast

QuaranTUNE is awesome, there will be another one in December but registration will open some time in November. Their website is virtualdulcimerfest.com

The North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association festival is on November 17, 18, and 19. Registration closes on October 31 but the guy said they typically leave it open for a day or two for those that get paid on the first. Their classes are $11 each hour. 

Guy George is teaching 5 PW (penny whistle) classes, Scott Reeder is teaching 1, Lorinda Jones is 1 or 2, and Aubrey Atwater has 2. 

If you google the name, NGFDA.com it will take you there. I'm taking 3 or 4 of the PW classes. I was going to take a couple more but I have to pick between a couple of PW classes and want the Ukulele (UK) or Mountain Dulcimer (MD) class more. I think I'm going to register for 11 or 12 classes but I won't know if they're available/not full until I go through registration after I get my deposit.  

There are lots of things you can do for breathing. I find that if I blow to hard the lower notes squeak and sound awful. My Clarke is a really good whistle. I'm still learning for sure. The higher notes are easy for me. They just take a little bit more air. I bet you know more breathing exercises than me. By far! I do okay and I haven't played my clarinet in years but I do sing while performing on the Ukulele in my senior group. So that helps keep me remember to breath deep while practicing. I use a C-pap at night to help with my breathing and my pulmonologist says my lungs are really good. 

NShedd
NShedd
@nshedd
2 months ago
3 posts

Hello all! My name is Nathan, and I am a music teacher currently based in NY, USA. I was a euphonium primary in college, but have been playing recorder since I was small, performing in my family's folk group on that, trumpet, and later guitar. I picked up dulcimer more recently, and am so thankful to have found this group!

Alathea
Alathea
@alathea
2 months ago
8 posts

Gina, do you have any breathing tips/exercises for Penny whistle? I’m a vocalist so I’m used to BIG breaths and big sounds (large framed baritone guy). I’ve never played a wind instrument before. I always over blow. 

ill research this Quarentune, also- it sounds like a blast

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
2 months ago
920 posts

Gina, in order to be able to post in a group you have to first join the group. There is a green block at the top of the group page which you click on to join the group.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

GinaB
GinaB
@ginab
2 months ago
9 posts

Sorry to ask random questions on your thread but I can't seem to be able to figure out how to post a question in a group. I also have uploaded a photo several times to be my profile photo but it's still a random dulcimer. 


GinaB
GinaB
@ginab
2 months ago
9 posts

I'm in Oklahoma. Not UK. 

I just finished up QuaranTUNE 8.0. Took 4 Mountain Dulcimer classes, 4 Penny whistle, and 3 ukulele classes. Had a blast! I've played Uke about 3 and a half years now. I can play a lot of 3 finger chords but some of those others! WOW! I don't have 6 fingers! 

I saw an ad for a pennywhistle workshop when I was googling mountain dulcimer festivals. It was SCDH.org, Southern California Dulcimer Heritage. I wondered what a pennywhistle was and googled it. It has the same fingering as my clarinet upper register so I started researching them. I bought a Clarke D whistle then a week or so later I found a Generation C at my local music store. We have a strong Classical Conversations group in the area. They do pennywhistle as part of their curriculum. 

So I've been playing that for about a month now. I do okay with it. 

There are ukulele groups all around, one in OKC meets each month at least once at a banjo museum to jam, they use The Daily Ukulele as their basic music. Gasoline is so high right now that it's hard to travel for a few hours just to attend a jam though. 

Is anyone participating in any upcoming festivals? I'm looking at the North Georgia one, QuaranTUNE is doing a Christmas festival, then Dulcimoon in January, and QuaranTUNE 9.0 in February. 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
2,010 posts

Gina & Doug -- there IS a UK dulcimer organization -- it's been around for decades.  The group is called Nonesuch Dulcimer Club: www.dulcimer.org.uk   They can set you straight as to local players, activities, meet ups and such.


updated by @ken-hulme: 10/13/22 07:48:39AM
DouglasCoates
DouglasCoates
@soledad
2 months ago
5 posts

Hi @ginaB  - I'm in same position - Kent in England, not a dulcimer in sight! I'm working it out slowly but must say it has a distinctive warmth of sound that is really distinctive and good. I have family members pick it up and get simple tunes out immediately. I got the Mel Bay chord book which is useful and also gives one of the best explanations of modes I've seen anywhere. But it's still upside down to me smile  (guitar player you see).

enjoy

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
1,616 posts

Welcome to FOTMD, @ginaB.  Peruse the forums and join any groups that interest you (you have to join to see all the discussion posts).  Ask questions whenever you please.  We'll be happy to offer answers -- and some of them might even be correct!




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
GinaB
GinaB
@ginab
2 months ago
9 posts

I saw a mountain dulcimer for sale on FB and bought it. It opened up a whole new world to me. I don't have anyone that plays within a hundred miles so I play alone. I'm looking forward to getting to know people. 

Alathea
Alathea
@alathea
2 months ago
8 posts

My older daughter did choir and madrigal in HS- full costume. Her senior year she was the Queen of the Madrigal “court”. The rest of them not so much musical, though. They have other interests. My 22 yr old son DM’s for about 4 different groups online and plays Warhammer 40k, my younger son and middle daughter are K-pop fanatics. We’re a weird lot

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
2,103 posts

Welcome to the site!
Wow what a lot of music playing runs in your family- how nice! music




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Alathea
Alathea
@alathea
2 months ago
8 posts

Hi, y’all. I’m Cedric “…. Hi Cedric…..” and I play a Merlin. Well, only recently,  but I majored in baroque, classical, operatic, and contemporary voice for almost 4 yrs, and I’ve played guitar as a noodler for about 30 yrs, so it’s coming along quickly. I dig 80s hair metal and classic rock but I also really love Rockabilly and outlaw country and rootsy/retro rootsy stuff.

My wife’s family has guitar, harmonica, mandolin, and a couple fiddle players in it. Family reunions are great, but unfortunately many of the rootsy instrument players have passed away over the last 23+ years that my wife and I have been together. So, I decided to take up dulcimer, to go with my boudrahn, tongue drum, and tin whistles. My wife is an orchestral percussionist, singer, and piano player. I also sing barbershop and did some undergrad study of how modern guitars evolved from citoles, gitterns, lutes, etc. As you can tell we are quite a musical household. 

 Army veteran, discharged in 2002 due to a stupid injury ( it’s funny now, though it wasn’t at the time…) I went in pre 9/11 and was out 6-7 months after- only a year total- so much for that college money, right? I had dropped out of college when my mom got cancer and moved my wife and son back to podunkville, so I didn’t need it anyway, at that moment. Luckily mom went into remission not long after I got out because she was my medical dependent, so no Army, no cancer treatment.  I finished college a few years later but in IT Management, basically has to start over since my music classes didn’t count except as electric 😂. I work for the VA now helping veterans since I barley feel like one, doing my part. I used to do IT for hospitals but that didn’t do much fit me other than cause stress. 

I’m a total polyglot! 

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 months ago
920 posts

Yes, you can. I think the gauges (from melody to bass) would be 0,012, 0.016, and 0.025. If those are a light, you can go up to 0.014, 0.018, and 0.026, 0.027, or 0.028.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

squeakyhawk
@squeakyhawk
3 months ago
7 posts

Can I change strings to make it into a baritone mountain dulcimer.  I am just curious because I love the sound of it 

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 months ago
920 posts

You can tune a dulcimer any way you want to. DAd or DAdd happens to be the most popular tuning at the moment.  In the groups I play with we also play in DAA, DAC, DAG, EAA, CGG. and a few others. I play mostly three string dulcimer hence the references. If you play with 4 equidistant strings you have many other tuning possibilities. One caution is that you may need to change string gauges to reach some tunings. You'll know if you start breaking strings that you'll need another gauge.

Ken
"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

squeakyhawk
@squeakyhawk
3 months ago
7 posts

Then I have a question.  The person I bought the mountain dulcimer from says the tuning is Dadd.  On acoustic guitar you can change the tuning.  I am wondering on a dulcimer if you can change the tuning or if you have to leave it with the tuning it came with?

Skip
Skip
@skip
3 months ago
354 posts

If the tuning is A2E3A3 [lower than DAd] or similar it's a baritone. The physical dimensions won't be an indicator.  

squeakyhawk
@squeakyhawk
3 months ago
7 posts

When I went on vacation I bought a mountain dulcimer Length 36” Height 2” Width 9.5” VSL 28.5-29” Width of strings 2” I am wondering if it could be a baritone mountain dulcimer.  The picture is on my member page.  Thanks for all your help 

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
3 months ago
326 posts

Teddy, it's a great time for you!  That dulcimer will probably smell like fresh wood and lacquer-- the "new dulcimer smell", not unlike the "new car smell" that everybody knows.  

At least you won't have to wait an hour after delivery for the box to warm up, like you do in deepest winter!

Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart
@teddy-hart
3 months ago
10 posts

My new Clemmer Mountain Dulcimer is 'Out for Delivery' scheduled to arrive sometime today (that usually means afternoon/evening) - I think time has been broken...  I checked the clock an hour and half ago, and it read 8:52AM - I just checked now, and it reads 8:53AM.   lol.  I am SO looking forward to seeing and getting to know my new (first ever) dulcimer!

DouglasCoates
DouglasCoates
@soledad
3 months ago
5 posts

Thank you Dusty - that's the book I need. I'm getting that tunings is a big part of dulcimers, not generally a thing I've done much with in life (the occasional drop D, that's about it!).

Off to explore the making area now.

cheers, Douglas

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 months ago
1,616 posts

Hey Douglas and welcome to FOTMD.  

The go-to book for chords that includes more tunings than you will ever utilize is Neal Hellman's Dulcimer Chord Book , originally published by Mel Bay in 1981.  You can probably find pretty inexpensive used copies, but even new it only goes for about $10.

We have a group here specifically on Dulcimer Making .  Go ahead and join that group, peruse the existing conversations, and start a new one if you have a question that is not already answered somewhere.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
DouglasCoates
DouglasCoates
@soledad
3 months ago
5 posts

I'm new here and new to the dulcimer (as a player and maker) but listen to a lot of traditional music so not new to hearing the dulcimer played. Two questions please: is there a recommended or favoured chord chart book for the most common tunings? And how do I find the group here about building them - I'm building one at the moment.

Many thanks for all help!

Douglas

Just for background, things I have and play: Fender bass, Mayones fretless bass, Furch OM31 acoustic; Esteve 8F flamenco.
Listen to: huge variety but e.g. Aoife ODonovan;, Adrienne Lenker, Emmylou Harris, Tim O'Brien, (etc).

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 months ago
2,010 posts

Squeakyhawk -- Welcome to our happy place.    There is an ancient style of presentation which I use often -- play a verse/sing a verse.  I have issues with combining the two things, so I just don't.  No reason you can't use the same technique.  At least start with speaking the verse,  then when you get more comfortable chant the verse in time to open strums.

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
3 months ago
297 posts

Welcome.  So you can’t sing, huh.  Compared to who?

There are many many amateur entertainers who can’t sing, but they sing anyway.   Learn two songs that are in your range, practice, and go for it.  


squeakyhawk
@squeakyhawk
3 months ago
7 posts

Hi I was given a mountain dulcimer for my birthday.  Then I went to Ohio on vacation and went into a used musical instruments  store and I couldn’t help myself and bought another mountain dulcimer.  I guess know I better learn how to play it.  I also play guitar and learning how to play Native American Flute.  I have written some songs.  I am very much an amateur player and I can’t sing.  So the songs I wrote I speak them along with playing an instrument  

Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart
@teddy-hart
7 months ago
10 posts

@ken-longfield  sun thank you for thinking of me, sir.  In these instances, where we face these immense and overwhelming circumstances, I think that it is mostly not about us at all..  we are simply being swept along by something that we cannot even create a clear conception of....  in come cases, we benefit, and it is a thing to recognize, and to be grateful for.  

So, it seems that we both have quite a bit to be grateful for.  We are fortunate.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
7 months ago
920 posts

Teddy, I thought of you at worship this morning. Psalm 30 was the appointed Psalm. I particularly liked verses 2 & 3: "O Lord, my God, I cried out to you and your restored my health. You brought me up, O Lord, from the dead; you restored my life as I was going down to the grave." These verses were particularly meaningful for me before and after my open heart surgery which was almost a year and half ago now.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart
@teddy-hart
7 months ago
10 posts

@ken-hulme  I think that I will enjoy playing in styles that are both bagpipe-like, and also entirely unlike what I already know...  that is the thing about embarking on a new thing;  the entire world is suddenly wide open to you.  I am really enjoying this already, and I haven't even received the instrument yet, lol.  Thank you so much for your help.  I have literally everything to learn.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 months ago
2,010 posts

Teddy -- Traditionally only the Melody string (or couplet) nearest to you is fretted to make the notes.  The other two strings are Drones.  If you fret the Melody string(s)  with a small finger-sized stick, we call that stick a Noter, and the style is Noter & Drone.  If you fret only the Melody string(s) with one or two fingers we call that Fingerdancing.  If you fret across all three course of strings we call that non-traditional style Chord-Melody.  For the most bagpipe-like sound you'll want to focus on Noter & Drone or Fingerdancing because they emphasize the Drones.

Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart
@teddy-hart
7 months ago
10 posts

@richard-streib  I have been a professed monk in a monastic order for a very long time, sir.  When I was in the hospital, I often received visits from clergy and consecrated lay brothers and sisters (monks/nuns), as well as from clerics from various denominations who would come and spend a few moments with me, offering their quiet presence.  During the months that I spend in the hospital, I took comfort in knowing that I was prepared for however things turned out.  I can affect very little insofar as how these things play out.  The priests, monks, and nuns who visited me similarly were unable to change how things turned out, though I very much appreciated their calm, quiet presence when they visited me.  I have no control over most of what takes place in my life.  I was fortunate in a way;  my decades of practice as a contemplative monastic prepared me to accept whatever life unfolded to me in any given breath-moment.  (this came as a pleasant surprise). 

I was an ordinand in my third year of seminary when I found myself going into surgery, with no certainty, and no clear idea of how life-changing the experience would be, ultimately; or whether I would have any lifespan remaining at all.

Whatever the circumstances, I am alive, I am mobile, I am not dependent upon infusions, machines, or appliances, and I am able to eat and drink and my body functions normally (mostly;  everything that was in there is no longer in there, and there is something of a 'new normal' but I will accept that with gratitude, along with whatever physical pain remains).

As I write this response (01 May 2022), I am preparing for the formal conclusion of the seminary academic program which will take place tomorrow evening.  If I am able to meet all of the academic and other requirements, I anticipate ordination to the Priesthood on 03 or 04 June of this year (I am currently a transitional deacon, reading for holy orders to be ordained as a religious-order priest ((priest-monk)) ). 

Please keep me in your prayers.  I am not entirely convinced that I am worthy of this... though I am also aware that it is not about me at all.  But, I will accept prayers in support of my vocation with humility and gratitude, sir.

Perhaps, if things go well, I will be able to return the gift of a calm, quiet presence (at the very least) to some other poor soul who is facing an uncertain future while hospitalized, and perhaps be able to provide them with some small degree of comfort in a difficult moment.  _/|\_

Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart
@teddy-hart
7 months ago
10 posts

@ken-hulme  Thanks Ken for the article.  I like the idea of a 'stringed bagpipe' and I very much would love to be able to play the Scottish and Irish tunes that I have played on the pipes, on the dulcimer (although, there is a maxim in piping that the only tunes you still love are the ones you haven't learned to play yet, since, by the time you are able to play a tune with any competence, you have come to hate it, lol!)  I don't know what Fingerdance syle is...  but it sounds intriguing.  

Richard Streib
Richard Streib
@richard-streib
7 months ago
198 posts

Best wishes Teddy on your dulcimer journey. Thanks for your testimony of God bringing you through a very serious condition. I echo what the others have posted. When you get your dulcimer enjoy it. Ask any questions you have. We are here to support you and help you.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 months ago
2,010 posts

Welcome Home, Teddy -- in many ways!   

The good news is that you can think of your dulcimer as a sort of "stringed bagpipe"!  It has the same melody and drone setup as the GBH.  There is even a specific tuning called Bagpipe Tuning -- Ddd.  Coincidentally, the dulcimer also excels at renditions of classic Scots and Irish tunes, the Border Ballads and more, particularly when played in Noter & Drone or Fingerdance style, which emphasize the drone nature of the dulcimer.  I've been playing those ballads and tunes for decades!

To get you ready for your new "friend", here's a link to an article I wrote several years ago, called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? .   It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer tunes (so we all speak the same jargon), plus answers to many beginner questions about the tuning, playing, care and feeding of your instrument.  

Ken Hulme's "I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?" Article - Strumelia | fotmd.com

Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart
@teddy-hart
7 months ago
10 posts

@john-c-knopf  Thank you, John.  Its a pleasure to meet you, sir.  I am glad every moment of every day.  Nothing is guaranteed, and anything can happen.  I plan to do my very best to make the most that possibly can out of each moment going forward, and I am really happy and looking forward to learning how to play this instrument, hearing it, admiring it, and learning about it...  and to share the journey with my fellow dulcimer players.  This is a really nice community. 

Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart
@teddy-hart
7 months ago
10 posts

@irene  Thank you so much for your response, Irene.  For whatever reason, I am indeed still here.  I wake up on my own, no tubes, no wires, no needles, no intense pain, no deep, endless, gnawing hunger and/or thirst.  I am capable of getting up, moving around on my own, eating, drinking, using the bathroom, and feeling normal.  It was not always the case.  I have no idea why I was so fortunate to come out of a situation that didn't really offer very much hope of survival.. but, I am here, now, and in all of the infinite stream of time going forward and backward ...  and in all of the illimitable distances in this universe that we live in...  we are all here, now, together.  We are all living in the same bellybutton together, we have to help one another get through this thing...  the situation that I faced is a situation that many, many other people would have traded me for, no questions asked.  I am so very, very grateful and fortunate.  I cherish every moment.  What I know is that it never occurred to me to think, "I never got to buy that... (something)", or, "I wish I could wear my... (something) just one more time." - what I most wanted were moments with people that love me, and that I love in turn.  It is the small things that escape our notice that are so very very precious.   I am attaching a photo.  This is a photo of earth, taken by Voyager 1 about 30 years ago.  Everyone and everything that has ever been, is, and will ever be important to either of us is in this photo... 

Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart
@teddy-hart
7 months ago
10 posts

@ken-longfield  Thank your for your response.  I think what speaks to me most, and what resonates with me most deeply, is a fingerpicked style of dulcimer music;  particularly older music.  That being said, however, I have no intention of entering this venture with strong pre-conceived notions at all.  I am going to maintain an open mind, try every single thing that I am capable of trying, and just enjoy the journey.  I have no stated goal, nothing that I must have a deadline for..  I just want to do it for the doing of it.  (Contrast this to learning the bagpipes so that you can pass the Pipe Major's testing of your playing and march in the band, play at bagpipe gigs, and so on.  The dulcimer is not for that... its for me...  I just want to play..  I am simply happy to be here.  I have faced my own mortality on several occasions, however, every time prior to this medical thing, I had made a conscious decision to take a risk;  by taking up arms, jumping out of aircraft, being under water, or around explosives or munitions, or, later, as a police officer, walking into situations that were inherently dangerous.  In this recent instance, I was simply living my ordinary, day to day, mundane existence...  I had just lost my cat, who was my little buddy for the past 17 years at that point...  and I was heartbroken over it, and my wife, myself and a close friend went out to dinner together as a small sendoff for a special little guy.   We ate, we were talking, and I suddenly felt a dull pain, and a peculiar wet sliding sensation, and immediately felt pretty bad... but I didn't say anything, not wanting to put a damper on the evening.  I had no idea that that moment was as crucial as it actually was.  Basically, by the time I arrived at the ER, they did not expect me to live through the night.   This was the first time I had ever been confronted with my own mortality simply when I had been living my life... not taking risks, not doing dangerous things..  just living.

It changes your perspective.  I can now answer the question (i.e., for myself;  "What is the meaning of life?" - for me, it is enjoying the passage of time.   Time is passing whether we realize it or not, notice it or not, enjoy it.. or not.   At some point, an exhale will take place, without a corresponding inhale.  This is what it is to be human.  We all face this.   The difference for me now is that I actually, truly know it... am constantly conscious of it... and know that my time is finite.   A day will come when, inevitably, I am going to die, and there is nothing whatsoever that I can do to change that.

So, one day I will die... this is true.  What is also true is that from this moment, until that moment, I am going to live.   Part of living includes making music on this new instrument, enjoying the craftsmanship of the instrument, the choosing of it... and the fellowship and community with my fellow musicians, and with all sentient beings.

I think that this is the best way to show gratitude for each moment;  by living and enjoying each moment, and by being fully and totally present to it.

Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart
@teddy-hart
7 months ago
10 posts

@greg-gunner Thank you sir, for taking the time to reply to my post.  I am sorry that you were forced to confront such a frightening and painful illness.  I have been a fighter all of my life, involved in combat sports since I was a very young child, and I served in two branches of the United States military and have successfully completed some of the toughest training courses our military offers;  I *thought* I knew what pain was, and that I could tolerate nearly anything.  Suffice it to say that I have a very much deeper understanding of what pain is now, particularly since I refused further narcotics on the fourth day after my initial surgery.  The timing was not good, as my surgeon was out of state and for some reason could not be reached for a few days, which meant that I could not go back on the narcotic pain medications for nearly four days.  Once the *actual* pain set in..  a minute was interminable from my perspective...   so it was a real hoot for a few days.  I imagine that you are no stranger to suffering either, and I am sorry for that.

You touched on the very issue that prevents me from simply switching over to bellows blown pipes.  The belt is a problem.  I know that many dulcimer players use a strap, but, I think (hope) that it is looser, and it seems to be placed in a different spot that will not be problematic for me.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
7 months ago
326 posts

Teddy, we're fortunate to be communicating with you at all!  What a horrible experience you've been through!  So glad that you haven't succumbed to those serious infections and complications.  

Monkeying around with a new dulcimer should be fun for you.  It's really a forgiving instrument, and you get nice sounds out of it most of the time.  Best wishes, and let us know if you need help.

IRENE
IRENE
@irene
7 months ago
168 posts

Dear Teddy, I have tears in my eyes after reading your post here and I can speak for others that we are grateful you survived to learn more on this old world and grateful also that you are going to learn a instrument of "old" and it will be new to you.   I love noter drone style the most, as it's the oldest style....and much can be done with this way of playing.  We will be excited when your dulcimer arrives and we want to see photos of it with you.   Many will help you on this site and surely you'll find a teacher in your area.    aloha, irene

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
7 months ago
920 posts

Good luck Teddy on your dulcimer journey. Playing a mountain dulcimer is very therapeutic. There are serveral styles of playing, but as a piper you may like the noter/drone as a starting point. In that style you play the melody on one string (the one closest to you as you hold the dulcimer on you lap) and the other two or three strings act as drones. I'm sure you are familiar with it. Once you receive your new dulcimer and start playing don't hesitate to ask in the forums if you have any questions. As you know by now, we are happy to offer any help we can. Best wishes.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Banjimer
Banjimer
@greg-gunner
7 months ago
141 posts

Teddy, Welcome to FOTMD.  It sounds like you have successfully navigated your way through a serious illness.  Playing the mountain dulcimer is very therapeutic.  I have dealt with colon cancer on an ongoing basis since 2010.  The mountain dulcimer has helped me maintain a positive attitude.  

Similar to you I once played the bagpipes, although, in my case, my instrument was the Irish uilleann pipes.  Multiple surgeries have left me unable to wear the belt holding the bellows in place, so I returned to the mountain dulcimer, and it didn't disappoint.  My mountain dulcimers have provided me with many years of enjoyment.  I'm sure your dulcimer will do the same for you.

A bonus is the type of people drawn to the mountain dulcimer.  You will not meet a friendlier bunch of people.  Enjoy your instrument and don't hesitate to ask for help if and when it's needed.  FOTMD is a warm welcoming group, we are pleased you have chosen to join us.

Teddy Hart
Teddy Hart
@teddy-hart
7 months ago
10 posts

I have belonged to this group for about two months, all the while never even once, the whole of my lifetime, having so much as touched a mountain dulcimer.  I have seen them, and heard them (while visiting family in the mountains of western North Carolina) - and that pretty much sums up my entire life experience with the mountain dulcimer; other than what I am able to see and hear on YouTube.

Yesterday was a milestone for me, in what is shaping up to be my burgeoning (solo) career with the mountain dulcimer;  I placed my order with Wood-N-Strings dulcimers for a walnut (sides,back and soundboard) dulcimer.  For the next few months, I will be anticipating its arrival, which is enjoyable in its own right, since I will only every anticipate the arrival of this dulcimer this one time.  (So I am bloody well going to savor it!)

I have literally no idea what I am doing, I have no idea where to start, and other than a few things that I was able to glean through reading posts here and on YouTube videos, I didn't really have much of a clue insofar as what my preferences in a dulcimer even were (are).

I suspect that somebody, somewhere is thinking (if they are reading this..) 'cardboard starter dulcimer' - but, nothing is foolproof, my friend;  we fools are much too ingenious for that sort've thing!!  

I live by the unwritten code;  "Anything worth doing, is worth Over-doing!!"

Although I have no idea how to even begin, in truth, I have never let that stop me in the past, and I am much, much too set in my ways to start allowing it to inform my choices today.  So, whenever my new instrument arrives, I will spend some time being utterly perplexed, and then I will decide upon a course of action, and begin.... 

Wish me luck!!  I am really looking forward to this new journey.  I am (or have been for quite some time) a piper.  A couple of years ago, however, I was afflicted by a sudden life-threatening medical emergency (my intestines spontaneously tore open... creating a 4"-6" tear... and spilling all of that nasty stuff into my abdominal cavity. 

This happened on a Monday evening...  I actually felt it occur, but, having never experienced anything of that ilk in my life, I literally had no idea what had happened.  By 10AM the next day, at work, I began having difficulty keeping my eyes in focus, and I was not able to walk down a rather wide hallway in the office without ricocheting off of both walls...   and from about 11AM(ish) I have no conscious memory to this day, until I snapped back to full awareness... sitting on my sofa.. literally pouring sweat as though someone was dumping a bowl of warm water over my head....  I crawled up the stairs..  (literally crawled.. on the floor) and was violently ill for the next hour or so.. then I dragged my sorry self to my bed where I remained (this was Tuesday night) until Thursday morning, without ever getting up at all... until my wife called Bullsh*t, and relentlessly kept at me until I very, very, *very* painfully got up, put some clothes on, and walked the longest, most excrutiating 40 feet or so to get into the vehicle, and had an exceedingly unpleasant 5 or 6 minute drive to our primary physician's office, then staggered inside.  

They put me on a table, the doctor palpated my lower left abdominal quadrant.. and I came off the table from the pain...  and was pretty much back to full awareness from that point...  the doc advised us to drive straight to the ER (she didn't feel comfortable waiting for an ambulance to come get me) they called ahead... and a few hours later I underwent emergency open abdominal surgery.  I pressed the surgeon for my chances of survival, and after me being adamant (this is my specialty), he told me that he thought I had a 15% chance of surviving the surgery, but perhaps a 1% chance of surviving the night, due to several extremely virulent and advanced bacterial infections leading to sepsis.

Several months later I returned for a scheduled second surgery, which had some severe complications.  I ended up unable to eat or drink anything for seven months ( I lived on infusions ), and then the pandemic hit, and I live in what was, at the time, the epicenter of COVID in the United States.. so it wasn't looking good.

By the grace of God, I am alive, I am relatively well, but I will probably not be able to play bagpipes again due to the internal pressure that the blowing causes.   This was not good news to me, and I will perhaps look into playing bellows blown pipes at some point... but, this new instrument is a direct result of all of this.   My hope is to be able to sit quietly, and simply play some music.  I have no interest in playing for audiences... I just want to be able to play something lovely.

So... now the wait begins.   Approximately four months was the anticipated waiting period.  I generally add some time to these estimates, because life happens.  

I am excited!!  Wish me luck!!  Perhaps I might even be able to actually learn to play this thing!!  :)

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
8 months ago
326 posts

Have fun, Alphie!  I finished a McSpadden kit last Saturday!  It's so much fun building, especially when all the hard work has been done by somebody else.  Good to have you with us.  We'll try to help you with whatever.

Alphie
Alphie
@alphie
8 months ago
2 posts

Hi, I’m newer to this website and very pleased with all the information available. I recently visited Branson and bought a kit from Cedar Creek Dulcimers. Took about a week to assemble it. I’m pleased with the unit and it’s fun learning. Hope to improve my knowledge/skills over time, but it’s really for personal pleasure. Thank you all for the information all of you share.

Canadian Dulcimer Boy
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
@canadian-dulcimer-boy
8 months ago
14 posts

Honestly, Richard, if I knew what I was buying I would have gladly paid way more for it. ;-)

Richard Streib:

What a wonderful find Canadian Dulcimer Boy. Enjoy playing your find.

Richard Streib
Richard Streib
@richard-streib
8 months ago
198 posts

What a wonderful find Canadian Dulcimer Boy. Enjoy playing your find.

Canadian Dulcimer Boy
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
@canadian-dulcimer-boy
8 months ago
14 posts

Hi Lois, if/when I buy a new super deluxe dulcimer, I will certainly be sharing my original find. ;-)

Lois Sprengnether Keel:

Oh my, Dulcimer Boy, your journey to loving dulcimers sounds so much like my own.  Had even said it was an instrument I'd skip since I, too, have a background with others.  Found what I call "the Orphan" & the rest followed.  I'm always willing to loan it to a beginner nearby since I now have several, including Tennessee Music Boxes.  (Like John Knopf I'm in that trick area north of the Ontario border.)

Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
8 months ago
199 posts

Oh my, Dulcimer Boy, your journey to loving dulcimers sounds so much like my own.  Had even said it was an instrument I'd skip since I, too, have a background with others.  Found what I call "the Orphan" & the rest followed.  I'm always willing to loan it to a beginner nearby since I now have several, including Tennessee Music Boxes.  (Like John Knopf I'm in that trick area north of the Ontario border.)


updated by @lois-sprengnether-keel: 03/28/22 11:04:07AM
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
@canadian-dulcimer-boy
8 months ago
14 posts

Thanks, John, Robin, Dusty. :-)

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
8 months ago
326 posts

Welcome to our little group, eh? from a dulcimer/dulcimore builder north of the Ontario border (suburban Detroit).  

We hope you'll have fun and learn some things from us.  That's a nice find you have there! Thanks for letting us know.

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
8 months ago
1,329 posts

Good to have you here, @canadian-dulcimer-boy!  Enjoy that new-to-you mountain dulcimer!  

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
8 months ago
1,616 posts

Welcome to FOTMD, @canadian-dulcimer-boy, and congratulations on your find.  The best dulcimer journeys begin with a unique discovery like yours.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
@canadian-dulcimer-boy
8 months ago
14 posts

Hi Folks, I stumbled upon a weird wooden instrument covered in dust, with a couple of old, floppy strings in an antique shop in Ontario, Canada. I was told it was a dulcimer and the shop keep said it was going for $40. I snatched it up in a heartbeat. I hade no idea what a treasure I had until I cleaned it up, put on some fresh strings and headed to Youtube to find out how to play it. (I already play bass, uke and a bit of guitar/banjo so my learning curve wasn’t too steep.) Anywhoooo…I’m in love with this instrument. I look forward to leaning from you all and sharing some tunes with ya

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
9 months ago
326 posts

Welcome, Walt and Megan!  We look forward to answering your questions and helping you out where we can.

MeganEleanor
MeganEleanor
@meganeleanor
9 months ago
4 posts

Hi all! I'm Megan, here from the Boston area. I've been playing for about a month now and have appreciated the information in these forums as well as the handful of welcome messages I've gotten already. Looking forward to chatting with folks. :)  

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
9 months ago
1,329 posts

Welcome to FOTMD, @walt!  

Walt
Walt
@walt
9 months ago
1 posts

Hi, everyone new here from Hampton Va

AMaiorano
AMaiorano
@amaiorano
11 months ago
4 posts

Thanks Dusty.  I’ve been enjoying your videos, those with your Probst as well as all the others.  Got your songs of old Albion book which I’m enjoying/using a lot.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Rick can build one for me.  No rush!!

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11 months ago
1,616 posts

@dtortorich, my wife uses that word all the time.  She will just ask me, "Are you dulcimering this weekend?"  She should just know that if I'm smiling, the answer is yes!




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11 months ago
1,616 posts

AMaiorano: Hello all, I’ve been playing the mountain dulcimer about 4 years.  I’ve contacted Rick Probst and I’m hoping he’ll build a dulcimer for me to play through my upcoming retirement years.  There are a few videos online, several by Dusty, of Rick’s dulcimers.  All sound wonderful!!  Does anyone have videos playing their Probst dulcimer?  I’d like to hear a few different wood combinations.  Thanks in advance!  Al

@amairano, there aren't a whole bunch of us playing Rick's dulcimers.  I think he only makes a few a year.  I think of his dulcimer as two dulcimers.  The box is plenty large and the bracing plenty sufficient to allow it to be strung as a baritone as well as a standard dulcimer.  If you compare my videos, you'll notice that I am playing in two tonal ranges with my Probst dulcimer. Rick's dulcimers have such a distinctive sound that I don't think wood choice will have a profound effect.  I would choose wood based on looks.  Mine is made of figured cherry with a Carpathian spruce top.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
dtortorich
@dtortorich
11 months ago
6 posts

Hey!  I'm fairly new to this site.  I've been playing with Paul and Betty Sykes.  Are you familiar with them?  They're a great couple that teach and support our group.  Paul has written over 300 songs, and he is still writing new songs every week.   If you do a search for him, I'm sure you'll find him.  He made the double string dulcimer that I'm playing and it has a rich sound.  Recently, I bought Paul's small amp and now I can amplify my dulcimer and play with a couple more people who play acoustic guitars.  When I practiced with them they were drowning me out.  Paul suggested his amp and it's working great.  I hope this may help someone else who faced a similar situation.  Happy Dulcimer Ing!  That's probably not in Webster Dictionary.

AMaiorano
AMaiorano
@amaiorano
11 months ago
4 posts

Hello all, I’ve been playing the mountain dulcimer about 4 years.  I’ve contacted Rick Probst and I’m hoping he’ll build a dulcimer for me to play through my upcoming retirement years.  There are a few videos online, several by Dusty, of Rick’s dulcimers.  All sound wonderful!!  Does anyone have videos playing their Probst dulcimer?  I’d like to hear a few different wood combinations.  Thanks in advance!  Al

StudentofRhythm
StudentofRhythm
@studentofrhythm
last year
15 posts

Hi all,

I found this group after a few days of looking around the web for dulcimer stuff and practicing mine after taking it up again after - well, a few years, really.  Nine years ago I went to a yard sale and saw a cardboard-bodied dulcimer (the label on it says Double Eagle, Arkansas).  I forget how much they were selling it for but it wasn't very much.  I had seen one many years before, when someone came to my school and demonstrated folk instruments.  So I bought it.

Well, I soon found out that my dulcimer had some peculiarities: mainly, a tendency to break strings.  I went through several replacement strings trying to tune it right, and then I noticed that the pin for the melody strings was pulling up and not letting the string keep its tune.  So the poor old thing sat unused for years until recently I got it out again, replaced the pin, got new strings, broke a few, and realized that as long as I tune it 1-5-5 or 1-5-4 it'll be fine.  Currently I've got it tuned to GDD, which seems to be about as much tension as it can take.  It works for me.  I like the "Ionian" tuning and starting the scale on the 3rd fret, even though this one does have the extra 6th.  I also really really like the "Dorian" tuning - I love Dorian mode.

After fixing it up and looking at the book that it came with (Albert Gamse's Best Dulcimer Method Yet) I found Jean Ritchie's 1964 instructional record and when she started strumming and singing I felt like my soul was being welcomed back to a home it had lost.  I've been picking out hymn tunes and Christmas songs for the past couple of weeks; recently I started picking out some tunes that I've come up with on my own.  I'm excited about using it for composition and integrating it into playing in groups.

About groups: I started playing drums in 1994 and have played kit in several bands.  Recently I've joined an odd little acoustic jam band with anachronistic aspirations, playing frame drum and tambourine, and I want to work the dulcimer into it too.  I see a lot of possibilities - I particularly like Jessica Comeau's arrangements of medieval tunes.  I'm interested in learning to do chords and I'm playing around with them, but I like doing the drone style too.  I like strumming with a feather.

One of these days I'll get myself a good instrument; I'm also gonna get a strumstick.

I'm glad to find this site, I've been enjoying the recordings and pictures and discussions so far!


updated by @studentofrhythm: 12/01/21 11:16:55PM
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
1,616 posts

If you were really dense, @sunvalleylaw, you wouldn't apologize.  And there's nothing to apologize for anyway.  Unlike Facebook, which has the endless scroll that keeps moving, we try to maintain discussions and forums so they can be searched and used later on.

A couple of posts earlier, @ken-hulme posted a link to an article he wrote: Ken Hulme's "I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?" Article - Strumelia | fotmd.com .  The link is actually to a discussion about that article, but the first post in the discussion by our fearless leader @strumelia has a link to a pdf of the article.  Just follow the link above, scroll to the bottom of the discussion to find the first post, and you'll see that pdf link.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
sunvalleylaw
@sunvalleylaw
last year
15 posts

@dusty-turtle, sorry to be dense, but navigation here is a little different from some other forums I am used to.  Which very first post?  In this thread? Sorry, still missing it.  :(

EDIT:  I followed the link, and I there is a post by @strumelia introducing the article, but that is all that is there.  Nothing to scroll down to and no other active link that shows up for me.  

EDIT to my EDIT:  Never mind.  I figured it out.  I had to join the “Beginners” group before the content showed up.  I am starting to figure out how to get around here.  I also joined a couple other groups, such as the modern/chording one, in which I have interest.  Cool place!


updated by @sunvalleylaw: 07/24/21 12:43:28PM
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
last year
1,616 posts

@sunvalleylaw, the article is in a link in the very first post.  Follow Ken's link and then scroll to the bottom where you can find that first post.  You'll find the article there.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
sunvalleylaw
@sunvalleylaw
last year
15 posts

Thank you, @ken-hulme.  Would love to read it. However, they link seems to take me to a place mentioning the article, but not including it.  Do you have a different link, or am I doing something wrong at that link?  Thanks!

Steve

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
last year
2,010 posts

Here's the link to an article/pamphlet I wrote years ago called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?   It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms (so we all speak the same jargon (often different from guitar), plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding of your new instrument.

Ken Hulme's "I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What?" Article - Strumelia | fotmd.com

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