OFF TOPIC discussions
Glad to know Jessica is OK. It's hard to keep up with the disasters these days.
Thanks for the tip, . I saw the title to that book but haven't picked it up just yet. The woman who gave me the hammered dulcimer included well over a dozen (mostly older) instructional books. I've been skimming through those and if I can't find exactly what I'm looking for I'll consider Ken's book. I sure enjoy the music he makes with his son, who is perhaps my favorite clawhammer banjo player.
Contact me by personal message, Don, if you have more questions on this stuff.
By the way, in explaining things to you, I've made a further change in the tab.
In measure 2, instead of getting the F# on the 2nd fret of the melody string, I will now indicate it as the 5th fret of the middle string. So I would use my ring finger on the 2 at the end of the 1st measure and then slide that finger up to 4 for the second measure, leaving my middle finger ready for the 5 on the middle string. That way the move up happens a little earlier, but it involves the same finger on the same string just sliding up two frets and then the hand is in perfect position for the next two measures.
Don, I'm not quite sure what you mean by "guideline." A note on the melody string can be found 3 frets higher on the middle string, and a note on the middle string can be found 4 frets higher on the bass string.
If you're looking for guidelines about when you would want to move to another string rather than stay on the string you are on, I think you have to examine the specific notes you are playing and your hand position. In my playing I try to follow a few golden rules: 1) minimize left-hand movement; 2) moving from one chord position to another, try to keep at least one finger on the same string; and 3) keep your left hand in a chord position as much as possible.
If you are not playing chords, some of that won't mean much to you, but you should still understand the principles. Let me address the question of when to shift to another string by looking at the first two lines of a tune I just tabbed out last night for my dulcimer club meeting this weekend.
The melody (pick-up note aside) is entirely played on the melody string in the first two measures, but in the 3rd measure I get the melody note of G on the 6th fret of the middle string. Why? That same note is found on the third fret of the melody string. But look at the subsequent melody notes; they are found on frets 5 and 7. So rather than have to jump from 3 to 5 and then to 7, I just move my hand up, catching the 6th fret of the middle string with my middle finger, and then leaving that finger down, my ring finger falls onto the 5th fret of the melody string. Those fingers stay down as I reach with my index finger (or thumb) to 7, then lift it up and hit the 5, where my ring finger can still be found. And then, moving to the 4th measure, that position with my middle finger on the middle string and my ring finger on the melody string just slides down one fret from 0-6-5 to 0-5-4.
So by using the middle string for that one note, I am able to get almost two entire measures with my hand in the same position.
Notice that I said "almost two entire measures." The last note of the first line is an F#, and I indicate it on the melody string at the 2nd fret even though it is the same note as the 5th fret of the middle string, where my finger already is. Truth be told, I probably play that note on the middle string there most of the time when I play this tune. However, the 5th measure obliges us to move all the way down to the 3rd fret for the melody string and then everything that follows is down by the nut. So to facilitate that move, I chose to tab this tune out using the 2nd fret of the melody string rather than the 5th fret of the middle string.
Obviously, there is no hard science to this stuff. You just try to figure out what will work best for you, meaning what will facilitate you finding the melody in the easiest way possible, with the least amount of movement.
If you want to challenge yourself, try to pick out melodies going across the strings as well as up and down a single string. If you are tuned DAd, just add 3 to the fret on the melody string and you'll find that same note on the middle string.
Here's a challenge for you: Play "Three Blind Mice." You will begin at the second fret of the melody string. But when you get to "They all ran after the farmer's wife" you will have to move up to 7. However, instead of continuing on down the melody string for the end of that phrase, try to move to the middle string. You will finish the song on the 3rd fret of the middle string instead of the open melody string. See how it works out.
Obviously, drone players will always stay on the melody string. But those of us who include chords in our playing try to minimize our hand movement. Learning to find portions of the melody on the other strings will help you achieve that goal.
No need to be embarrassed. That's how you learn an instrument. I still have trouble playing from tab but generally get a tune in my head and then find it on the fretboard. Sometimes if I have trouble with a spot or two, I'll turn to tablature to see how someone else plays the tune, but then I just go back to the instrument.
I recognized you right away, Strumelia! Even the low energy dance would be a workout, if only because of how long the dancing goes on with no breaks.
But COVID has certainly changed our perspectives. Looking at all those people so close together, indoors, breathing heavy, all I can think of is how easy it would be to pass germs.
For those who are too young or don't know the history: in the age of typewriters and typesetting, each letter or symbol took up the same amount of space, so a skinny letter like "l" took up the same space as a chubby letter "M" or "Q." To help differentiate a sentence-ending period from a period that would follow an abbreviation, it became standard practice among printers (and therefore people writing on typewriters) to use two spaces after a sentence-ending period. When printing entered the digital age and as we all began writing on computers rather than typewriters, our software allowed the proportional spacing of letters, so skinny letters take up less space than fat ones and punctuation can be placed very close to the letter preceding it. This made that extra space unnecessary, and most of the style guides (MLA, Chicago, APA, etc.) began recommending a single space after all periods.
So only old people like me who learned to write on typewriters were taught to use the extra space. If you want to see what type looked like before this digital change, choose "Courier" font. Looks kind of ugly, huh?
However, over the last couple of decades, studies of reading comprehension have found that the extra space after a sentence actually helps in both comprehension and retention since it isolates one discrete thought from the next. For that reason, many educators (including yours truly) have begun once again to use the extra space after a period, regardless of what our word processing software recommends.
If you want to test the difference, copy and past two chunks of challenging text into Word or another word processing software. Without reading the text, add an extra space after the sentences in one but not the other. Then skim them both, not reading slowly, but pretending you are cramming for a test. You may find that the extra space helps in the process of understanding as quickly as possible.
Several scientific studies have concluded that the double space after a period increases comprehension and retention, which is why I continue to use it even though in this grammar-phobic, tweet-obsessed world it is no longer so common.
But as a 50-something, I would like to rewrite that sentence:
Oh, I get it now; some people pause for a second when they talk. It's like when millennials and gen Z-ers use ellipsis dots instead of periods or semi-colons.
(No offense, Irene. )
Lois, I don't know of a list such as what you're looking for. The Dulcimer Players News website maintains a list of dulcimer festivals, but nothing beyond that. I did hear recently that the big Walnut Valley Festival is going online this year for two days of "hands-on workshops." The link there is to the list of workshops, which cover guitar, banjo, mandolin, autoharp, ukulele, and more.
Maybe everyone is waiting for someone--perhaps someone with the skills of a resource librarian--to create the list you seek.
Strange days indeed. I attended a COVID wedding yesterday. My brother-in-law got married to his long-time girlfriend. The wedding was originally planned for Labor Day weekend in Las Vegas, and he had rented a huge mansion there where the wedding party and their close family and friends were going to stay. Needless to say, those plans were canceled.
Instead, there was a short, social distancing ceremony with about 20 people involved at a park, and then we we went back to their backyard for a party of sorts. Everyone sat in family pods, so my wife, daughter and I had our own table. There was no buffet or anything like that. They had the event catered, with individual bags of food for each attendee. Even the drinks were individualized. My wife indicated on the questionnaire that I liked whiskey, so on our table was a whole bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey, just for me. (Don't worry, we took the bottle home after I barely made a dent in it.) Also on each table was a bottle of hand sanitizer and a container of Lysol wipes. I was expecting face masks displaying a picture of the newlyweds, but they didn't go that far.
There was no dancing or anything, but we played bingo and a few other contact-less games, including something where we each threw a balloon filled with paint at big canvas. They are planning to put that paint-splattered, Jackson Pollock-like canvas in their living room. Kind of a cool idea, though we left before seeing the final product.
In the end, it was nice but also strange. I'm sure we will remember the experience, which I guess is all you can ask of a wedding.
, you must have been writing at the same time was. He identified the the tune at the beginning and at the end (I didn't even make it that far) but there is a third tune in the middle he doesn't know. No surprise Gregg knew the answer. You don't get a beard like that without acquiring a lot of knowledge and wisdom.
It sounds a lot like Southwind, but I don't think it's the same song. Both are in 3/4, the first few notes are the same, and the B part goes up to the octave, so there are striking similarities. But there are also both melodic and harmonic differences.
I wish I could identify it, but I can't. I'm sure someone will.
I know a few luthiers who have started either using jumbo frets or offering them as an upgrade. I know Aaron O'Rourke loves them. According to him, the bigger frets enable you to get notes without pushing your fingers all the way down to the wood so you can play faster. To be honest, I don't think the size of the fret is what slows me down!
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Two things to keep in mind, . First, when you are listening to audio or video on the internet, the quality of the original recording and the quality of the speakers or headphones you are listening on will make a huge difference. So you can't really compare the audio files from the McSpadden site with Jessica's videos below. Secondly, from what I can tell, Jessica is tuned down to C, whereas the standard tuning for a dulcimer is D. Jessica's recordings may sound richer than those on the McSpadden site only because she is in a lower tonal range.
is a member here at FOTMD. In addition to being a wonderfully expressive player, she is also really friendly. You might ask her what she likes about McSpadden dulcimers or how she achieves the sound she does.
Only 61 more to go! I just put a new string on my hammered dulcimer. I only have 61 more to go!
Actually my goal by the end of tomorrow is just to have all the phosphor bronze strings replaced. I think there are 14 of them. They seem to have weathered the years worse than the plain steel strings have.
For a demonstration of a dulcimer's intonation and tone, I don't think you need a great player. In fact, a great player can make a crappy instrument sound good. For a demo, the instrument should be in tune, but then you can just strum it a few times and play the notes going up a scale to demonstrate the intonation.
Then again, McSpadden dulcimers are very consistent in their tone and intonation. I often advise people out here on the west coast where you can almost never play a dulcimer before buying it that McSpadden and Folkcraft instruments are safe bets. And perhaps best of all, McSpadden dulcimers maintain their value well over time.
The asking price here is very fair.
P.S. Bing Futch plays a dulcimer with the 1+ and 8+ frets, so whatever negatives he might mentioned, obviously he feels the advantages outweigh them.
Since you won't be able to play the "guitar" in the middle like a guitar since it has no frets or a dobro since the bridge is curved, I would suggest you just set the six "guitar" strings as low bass notes to add an occasional accent to your dulcimer playing. If the two dulcimers are going to be tuned to D (DAA and DAd), I would use pretty heavy strings on the guitar to get low notes of D, E, F#, G, A, and B, which would correspond to the tonics of the three main chords in D and their relative minors: D, Em, F#m, G, A, and Bm.
That's just an idea. I really can't imagine what the original intent was of this instrument, though it looks super cool.
Sad news. Orthey was well respected luthier in both autoharp and dulcimer circles.
You are certainly right, , for lessons never hurt. However, sometimes they are limited in their effectiveness. Right now I find what is holding me back on the hammered dulcimer (which I've only been playing about a week!) is technique. I understand the basic layout of the strings and can find lots of melodies either from books or by ear, but my physical approach to the instrument is poor. My left hand especially does not have the strength or confidence that my right-hand does. Were I to pay for a private lesson, I would just ask for exercises and would then wait a month or two for another lesson while I worked on those exercises. I was hoping to find those exercises on my own. So far I've been playing arpeggios, alternating hands. And I've been working on scales either one hand at a time or alternating hands.
, there were a few small fires about 75 miles away, but they were easily put out. Since I live in the Central Valley rather than the hills, the fires usually affect us less as a direct threat than by clouding our air with smoke. I actually have a bunch of masks in the garage for when the air gets really bad. Unfortunately, those are different masks than we need to halt the spread of viruses. Perhaps I'll have to double up on the masks soon. Yikes!
, the rolling blackouts have indeed affected a lot of people. Luckily, our house is on the same little portion of the grid as a police station (and maybe a fire station, too), so we're exempt from those purposeful blackouts.
But folks along the coast, where it never gets above 80 are really suffering since their homes don't have adequate A/C.
I just read an article that questioned the rolling blackouts since although power usage was as high as expected, the state still had plenty of electricity in reserve. The conclusion was that over the last several years since the last major heat wave, so many people have added solar panels to their homes that the drain on the grid is significantly less than it used to be. A sign of progress, I suppose.
Well in the middle of this pandemic here on the west coast we're also dealing with a massive heat wave. The worst in about 75 years, I just heard. It will be over 100 for most of the day, even staying in the 90s well into the evening. I'm so grateful that we installed a new HVAC unit in May; I feel bad for all those folks with no air conditioning. At least the county lifted the water rationing restrictions so I can water the lawn more often than twice a week. But I don't think I'll be doing much work outside the next several days.
Thanks, @Pondoro and @Skip. I am expecting to practice. My question, though is how to practice. Since I have been playing fretted instruments my whole life, when I decided to work on my weak little pinky, I knew how to develop exercises for that. It still took 4 years to get my pinky up to the same strength as my other fingers, but at least I knew how to work on it. I designed some exercise specifically for my pinky and kept at it. I have no experience with the hammered dulcimer, and it just seems that my dominant hand is pretty good but my weak hand, well, is decidedly not. I have been doing some scales and some arpeggios, so maybe I just need to keep at it and perhaps in 4 years I'll see some improvement. But I wonder if certain exercises might speed things along.
Just got a hammered dulcimer a few days ago and am now in full frustration mode. Boy, the instrument is unforgiving; you hit one wrong note today and it rings until next weekend! I can see why people have dampers installed.
I have horrible technique right now and my left hand is especially lame. Does anyone have suggestions for how to increase the coordination of a left hand for playing the hammered dulcimer. I wonder if some percussionists out there have recommendations.
Thanks in advance.
Hi , you have a good memory. I did indeed have a McSpadden baritone for a spell, but was obliged to sell it to raise money (I think I needed a new catalytic converter). I no longer have the video I posted when I was selling that instrument. If I remember correctly mine had a redwood top and ebony overlay on the fretboard. I think the body was walnut. Mine also had a 1-1/2 fret.
If you already have a McSpadden, you know how consistently playable they are. They also tend to keep their value pretty well in case you have to sell it down the proverbial road sometime. I'm not sure what advice I can give you.
I have to be honest that I don't think my ear is capable of discerning the differences in tone from different wood types. I can hear the differences between luthiers, but I can't hear the difference between a cherry McSpadden and a walnut McSpadden, for example. Having come from the guitar, I prefer softwoods (spruce, cedar, redwood) for the tops, but I choose wood for the body based on how it looks.
When you say you want a McSpadden because it is smaller than the Folkcraft, are you referring to the size of the body? Both Blue Lion and Ron Gibson make baritones with smaller scale lengths. Currently I have my Rick Probst dulcimer strung as a baritone, and that is big, in terms of body, VSL, and sound. I can't imagine lugging that thing to festivals.
Leo, I don't think approvals are needed for photos. I might be wrong, but I think photos normally appear immediately. There was no delay on that first one you posted, was there? My guess is there is some other tech snafu at play here.
Why not try re-posting one of the six that has disappeared? Let's see what happens.
Other than the first one, I don't see any evidence of photos you posted either. We'll have to wait for Strumelia to see if she has any more behind-the-scenes knowledge.
I won't go into details about why the 6-photo daily limit was instituted, but you can imagine what might have happened to justify that policy. If you really want to upload dozens (or hundreds) of photos all at once, perhaps you could use Photobucket or some other cloud space and then link to them here. Otherwise, I wouldn't mind seeing a slow trickle of your photos over a period of time rather than a monsoon all at once.
Sorry I can't be of any more help.
Thanks for this important reminder, Lois. Quarantune is so big it has overshadowed the many smaller, intimate, regional dulcimer festivals that have also gone online. I took a couple of workshops at the Dutchland DulciZoom festival last month and had a great time. I'm also teaching a couple workshops at the Redwood Dulcimer Day in a couple of weeks, and I'm sure I'll attend the Harvest Festival of Dulcimers and the North Georgia Foothills festival as well.
Obviously we all wish we could gather in person, but one nice aspect of being forced online is our ability to meet dulcimer players from all over the country. Since I have a job and a family, I could never attend dulcimer festivals further than a few hours drive way, but these online gatherings have enabled me to share music with people from all over.
Thanks to Ashley at DPN for making that festival directory available!
I can add my name to the suggestions for a good student model dulcimer.
I bought one of David "Harpmaker" Lynch's student model a few years ago to keep on the east coast, and it's really nice. The intonation is spot on. He keeps the costs down by using birch ply instead of fancy wood, minimizing the need to bend the wood, and using simple circle soundholes. They sell new for under $150 and have a 25-3/4 VSL. They don't have the deep, rich sound of dulcimers costing 10 times that amount and made of fancy tonewoods, but they have a nice punch.
Hey folks. Anyone interested in traditional fiddle tunes will love the movie The Mountain Minor (2019) written and directed by Dale Farmer. It is available on Amazon Prime Video right now but will probably be around on PBS stations soon if it hasn't been already.
The film is the story of young Charlie, growing up on a farm in Kentucky and learning the fiddle from his grandfather. But the Depression forces his family to move to new opportunities in Ohio. He eventually retires to move back but also teaches his own grandson the old tunes. So the film depicts the passing on of musical traditions over four generations.
As a film it is good, but not great. The story is sometimes simplistic and predictable and the dialogue and acting a bit staid at times. However, the MUSIC IS GREAT! I'm sure the soundtrack will be out soon if it isn't already. According to my notes, here is a list of the tunes in the film:
Hickory Jack (which both begins and ends the film and is a kind of theme)
Fiddler a Dram
Old Jimmy Sutton
Short Time Here, Long Time Gone
Glory in the Meeting House
Sally in the Turnip Patch
Old Regular Melody
Shaking Down the Acorns
Ways of the World
Bushy Fork of John's Creek
Paddy on the Turnpike
The Day is Past and Gone
Across the Ohio
THe sherry would probably overwhelm flavors in a way the sake wouldn't. But hey, my mother-in-law once substituted an apple for an onion in a soup thinking that since they were both round it would work. Can't say she didn't use logic!