Forum Activity for @dusty-turtle

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/17/20 02:04:22AM
1,183 posts

Embedded video from YouTube not showing up?


Site QUESTIONS ? How do I...?

@Glowhazel, the main way to add a video of yourself playing is to go to your profile page and click "Videos."  Then choose the "+" sign to add a new one and choose YouTube or Vimeo.  You will be asked for the YouTube URL and the title of the video. If you use that method, we can all see your video in the main video section.

If you are trying to post a video as part of a conversation in a Forum or Group discussion, then you use the "embed local media" icon in the tool bar. It looks like a piece of film strip.

In neither case do you use the embed code from YouTube.  Strumelia explained how to do this a while back in response to another question in this forum.

As Robin explains, you can also just put the URL in the text box.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 01/17/20 02:10:08AM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/16/20 06:43:32PM
1,183 posts

Dulcimer hangers


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Molly, I just use a regular picture hanger and string or wire.  See this picture of a wall in my office/music room.  In that case I used leather shoe laces to hang the dulcimers from the hangers, but for a more discreet look you could use fishing line, which is really strong but also nearly invisible.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 01/16/20 06:45:26PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/15/20 03:30:20AM
1,183 posts

Irish duo to visit America.


Site QUESTIONS ? How do I...?

Val, thanks for pointing us to these guys.  I won't be able to see them since their closest show is about 2000 miles from me, but I've been listening on YouTube.  Great harmonies.  And great, understated picking on the banjo, guitar, mandolin, bouzouki or whatever.   Really good stuff.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/13/20 12:06:48PM
1,183 posts

"Musical Spring 2020" online calendar


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

What a fine idea!

Let's see if the muse offers up a new tune . . . 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/11/20 04:26:44PM
1,183 posts

Pick noise


Playing and jamming difficulties...HELP ME!

A few comments, some of which have already been stated.

A thicker pick will lead to less pick clack.

Holding the pick so that less sticks out of your fingers will decrease the contact between the pick and the fretboard. Remember that you only have to graze the top of the strings. You don't have to actually dig down beneath them.

Some pick materials make more clack than others.  I am not  fan of the felt picks Lois recommends because it is too hard to pick individual strings or play fast.  But you might experiment with different brands of picks and different models from different brands and see if some have less clack than others.  (I've actually started using pretty expensive picks because they have a warmer, less plasticky tone and very little pick clack. But the really expensive one I have was given as a gift. I would never spend $35 on a single pick, and you shouldn't either!)

You probably hear the pick clack more than your audience.

Some people, as Strumelia explains, don't mind the pick clack at all.  Personally, I enjoy hearing fingers sliding on strings and picks hitting the instrument. It's a reminder that playing an instrument is a tactile experience as well as a musical one and is not merely a computer producing clean digital tones. (I like to hear the valve noise of jazz saxophone players, too.)

If you really hate it, play with your fingers.  I love the soft sound of bare fingertips caressing the strings.  Linda Brockinton and Nina Zanetti play such moving music. You can, too.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/11/20 04:14:34PM
1,183 posts

North Carolina dulcimers getting media attention


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Folks, here's another newspaper article on a dulcimer club in Jasper, IN.

Dulcimer Group Relaxes the Strings of Life


updated by @dusty-turtle: 01/11/20 04:15:23PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/07/20 01:21:15PM
1,183 posts

1-2-4 Chord Surprise!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Congratulations on your success. I went in the other direction: from the guitar to the dulcimer, and you're right that playing one instrument makes the next one easier to pick up. But the bigger lesson here is that as the muscles in our fingers stretch and strengthen, chord formations that once seemed impossible become do-able.  Newbies need to be reminded that instead of saying "I can't play that chord" they should be saying "I can't play that chord yet!"

And that extended slant chord down near the nut is the toughest chord to finger, so you are doing great!

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/05/20 09:11:38PM
1,183 posts

Your next performance?


OFF TOPIC discussions

You sound great, Sandi! And that little wren sounds perfect.  Nice job!

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/05/20 01:12:23PM
1,183 posts

North Carolina dulcimers getting media attention


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Perhaps what surprised me most about the video is that nearly everyone is playing from tab not on paper, but on their tablet computers.  Who says retirees are technophobes?

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/05/20 03:17:28AM
1,183 posts

Practice tips


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Even though most of us have no genuine ambition to become serious musicians and just want to have fun, I thought given the original question here I'd post a link to Jack Tuttle's Top Ten Ways to Become a Better Musician .  Jack was a legendary multi-instrumentalist and music teacher long before his daughter Molly became the hottest flatpicking guitarist since Tony Rice.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/04/20 02:08:52PM
1,183 posts

North Carolina dulcimers getting media attention


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I just thought I'd bring to everyone's attention this story that ran on WLOS in North Carolina entitled " Mountain dulcimer connects people to their roots and each other ."

My favorite line: The "quick learning curve and communal nature of the instrument makes the mountain dulcimer a perfect fit for aspiring musicians."

I am not sure the instrument itself has a communal nature, but those who play the dulcimer certainly do!


updated by @dusty-turtle: 01/04/20 02:09:22PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/03/20 11:53:28AM
1,183 posts

Practice tips


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Yeah, I spent many lackluster years strumming guitar with no direction at all. My playing wasn't horrible, but it wasn't very good either, and I knew it, so it gave me little pleasure.  Then when I did get motivated to improve (what motivated me is a story for another time) the first thing I did was start to play scales, and my technique got better so fast I was totally energized and started enjoying playing again.  For me, part of the enjoyment of playing music is the continuous improvement, even if it is often so slow as to be imperceptible.  Learning new tunes or adding new techniques or new ideas to a song I've been playing for years is immensely enjoyable.

From time to time my playing stagnates, and I feel as though I'm not learning anything new.  Then I make a conscious effort to work on a technique that had been too hard in the past, or a song I had never managed to figure out. That new direction gives me a boost and I start enjoying my playing again. Woo hoo!

 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/02/20 03:01:54PM
1,183 posts

Practice tips


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi @YeahSureOK.  The first thing I'd say is that whatever you do, you have to enjoy it. If you start thinking of practicing as a chore, then you'll not play as much and just won't have much fun.  Personally, I play scales a fair amount, both up the neck and across the fretboard.  Scales help for both right- and left-hand technique, and one reason I enjoy them is that you see progress really fast.  When you practice a song, you get better at that song, but when you practice scales, arpeggios, and other exercises, you get better at all the songs you play. And you also make it easier to learn new songs, too.

If you don't know how to get started on scales, let me know. I'll point you to some exercises that I developed for my students.  I think I also developed some flatpicking exercises.  I'll see what I can dig out.

I would also recommend arpeggio exercises.  There are a couple that I do that I got out of Aaron O'Rourke's book Faster, Cleaner, Better: A Collection of Exercises and Etudes for Mountain Dulcimer.  I would also recommend Mike Casey's book Hands-On Dulcimer, which has a ton of exercises for both hands.

Once you examine the exercises that others have designed, you'll see that you could design your own as well.  I would start with a question: What technique or techniques do you want to work on? Then you can find or develop an exercise for that precise purpose. 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
01/01/20 08:06:35PM
1,183 posts

Blow the candles out


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

Mary Barnsdale:

@dusty-turtle, it sounds like maybe you have the Randy Wilkinson tab? Is "Blow the Candles Out" as played here by @Dulcibard the Wilkinson arrangement?

Mary, I do indeed have one of Randy Wilkinson's books, but "Blow the Candles Out" is not in it. Lo siento.

 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/29/19 10:05:53PM
1,183 posts

Aeolus dulcimer?


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

I second the advice @Salt-Springs offers to contact @Guy-Babusek.  He plays Aeolus dulcimers and has probably been in contact Dale.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/28/19 04:03:33AM
1,183 posts

Intros and bridges


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Lois Sprengnether Keel: Because the intro & the ending can easily come from the piece, they aren't as hard to come up with something.  My puzzlement is always that "filler" between sections or verses.  Suggestions? 

Lois, this is a big question, for at essence you are asking how to improvise or take a solo.

First, just some terminology.  The term "filler" is usually used for what we do in short spaces, say a few beats in between melody lines or when the melody line sits on a long note.

If you want to play a whole verse doing something different, there are other terms.  If you stay close to the melody, it would just be called a "variation," and there are some strategies for creating variations.  Aaron O'Rourke teaches this stuff by differentiating between melodic variations, harmonic variations, and rhythmic variations.  (He has a book or two entitled "Mastering Variations.")

If you leave the melody behind, you are playing what would have been called many decades ago a "musical interlude," but what we refer to more recently as "a solo." In both cases the chord progression is the same as the verse you are replacing, but you are no longer pretending to play the melody.   The way to learn to do this just by feeling or by ear would be to record yourself just playing the chords of the piece and then practicing coming up with alternative melodies.  You start by finding the safe notes, which are just the notes of each chord. If you venture to a note that is not a chordal tone, that's OK, so long as it's a passing tone and you get back to a chordal tone soon, probably the first beat of the next measure.  As you get a feel for the chord progression, you can perhaps plan how to move from a safe note for one chord to a safe note for the next one.

One of my golden rules of dulcimer playing is to keep your left hand in the shape of a chord at all times.  That way you can pluck any note and it will sound OK.  In that sense, each of your fingers is already fretting a safe note.  Sometimes you can play several filler beats or a section of a solo just by playing arpeggios (the notes of a chord) in a rhythmically interesting way. And sometimes starting with an arpeggio will lead you to more adventurous melodic invention.

A lot of folks who teach this stuff will demonstrate certain scales, such as the 5-note pentatonic scales, as good for improvising.  They are, but on the dulcimer we only have 7 notes anyway, so we are already pretty close to the pentatonic scales. And even if you play around with those scales, it is still a good idea to resolve your improvisations on those chord tones, so I would still stress keeping close to those chord positions.

Both Aaron O'Rourke and Stephen Seifert teach this stuff. You might look for some of their online lessons.

Finally in the interests of full disclosure, let me confess that I think in my own playing I am pretty good at filler and often play tunes adding lots of bass notes, extra strums, rhythmic arpeggios, short licks, and some chord substitution, so that each verse sounds a little different than the others. In that sense I am creating variations. But I am not good at all at those longer musical interludes or improvisational solos where you leave the melody behind.  When I perform a song with words, I almost always include one or two verses of an instrumental break, and the audience probably thinks I'm improvising, but the truth is that I compose that stuff and practice it over and over again (OCD anyone?), the same way you practice a new song.  It's not very inventive either, but it does add a little break from the vocals, and hopefully every now and then I get lucky and find a cool lick here and there.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/27/19 06:52:05PM
1,183 posts

Intros and bridges


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

@Ferrator, first, bridges and intros are different. Bridges are usually part of the composed song.  It might be considered the "B" part that contrasts with the main melody.  The kind of intro you are talking about is not a formal part of the composed song but a few bars played before the song starts.

One trick for an intro is to play the end of the "B" part of the song.  For example, if you were playing "Silently Night" you might begin very slowly playing the part that goes along with the words "Sleep in heavenly peace," then pause for a moment, and then begin "Silent night, holy night . . . ."

You ask a very good question that gets at the difference between merely playing a song and playing an interpretation of a song, which would include intros, filler, perhaps a musical interlude (what we used to call the "solo") as well as an ending.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/21/19 02:34:36AM
1,183 posts

Rebec


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

@Hobbyhorse, those look like quite elegant instruments you are making. Nice job!

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/17/19 12:29:59PM
1,183 posts

You know your dulcimer has a hold on you when...


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I hope you heal quickly.  The Liquid Skin stuff that Ken recommends is awesome.  It seals like super glue but it is also antiseptic, so it keeps things clean. It is especially useful on parts of the hand that move a lot.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/10/19 03:44:11PM
1,183 posts

Holiday Music Recommendations


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Thanks for those recommendations.  @Ken-Hulme, I found the entire Chieftans album on YouTube and listened to most of it this morning.  The Jackson Brown tune is pretty special indeed.  

@Steve-Smith, thanks for reminding us about Cathy.  Listening to her music is a nice way to honor her memory.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/10/19 12:54:45AM
1,183 posts

Holiday Music Recommendations


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Several years ago I started this discussion hoping people would share their favorite holiday albums.  May there are some new recommendations . . . 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/07/19 04:27:11PM
1,183 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

I saw a great show last night.  Mollie's Revenge played a show as part of their annual "Wintersong" holiday tour.  They are amazing musicians, playing fiddle, guitar, mandola, bagpipes, whistles, bodran and more.  They play mostly traditional Celtic music on traditional Celtic instruments, but they do so with a hard-driving, rock-tinged edge.  If you check out some of their videos on YouTube, you'll see what I mean.  They were joined by vocalist Amelia Hogan and The Murray Irish Dancers. As soon as the piper came out with his bagpipes decorated like a Christmas tree, they had won me over.  The music was exhilarating and I had a lot of trouble calming down afterwards to get to sleep.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/07/19 04:25:28PM
1,183 posts

Purpose of DAA tuning


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Melanie, if you are following the tab of a song and a chord name is indicated on top, you are not supposed to stop playing the tab and play the chord.  The chord is for another instrument (like a guitar or another dulcimer) to accompany you.  The chances are, you are already playing that chord.  For example, if you are stumming across the strings in DAd, and you move from the open melody string up to the second fret, and then to the fourth fret, you are already playing D chords.  If you want to sing the song and play chords, by all means follow those chordal indications. But if you are playing tab, just play the tab.

For a long time I did not put chords in my tablature.  But over time I got frustrated that people in my local dulcimer group could play 3-1-0 if it were in the tablature, but if I asked them to play a G chord, they had no idea how to do it!  So I started putting the chord names in so that they would understand what chords they were playing when they followed the tab. 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/07/19 03:56:43PM
1,183 posts

Purpose of DAA tuning


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

@Melanie-Cook, if you are playing across all the strings and have a 6+ fret, neither DAA nor DAd is better.  They are basically the same in the sense that you have exactly the same notes at your disposal.  It is true, however, that these days more dulcimer tab and instruction is created for DAd, so you will have more support if you learn that tuning.

Drone style players need to get used to re-tuning to be able play tunes in different modes, but those of us who fret across the strings can usually get those modes without retuning.

Unless your dulcimer points its fingers at you and laughs whenever you make a mistake, there is no reason to be intimidated. Frustrated, yes, we all get frustrated.  But not intimidated.  I think your plan is fine.  Learn some tunes by following tab written by others.  But also take time to just find melodies by ear on your own.  As you learn the chord shapes (there aren't that many of them) you will know what your options are for finding the right chord to play with a note.  But you should also experiment.  Once you find a melody note, try to find a note on another string that sounds good with it.  You don't have too many options since your hand can't reach that far.  Once you have found that one harmony note, see if you can find another on the third string.  And remember that in DAA, the middle and the melody strings are tuned the same, so you can always use the same fret, and in DAd, the bass and middle are an octave apart, so you can always use the same fret.

 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/04/19 01:20:26PM
1,183 posts

Healthy Living- healthy eating, exercise, weight loss, veggie gardening, etc.


OFF TOPIC discussions

Strumelia, my wife is the queen of chicken soup and often makes a new batch every day.  You think I'm exaggerating, but I'm really not.  And not just in the winter, but even in the summer, which drives me crazy and leads to arguments about the cost of air conditioning.  Sometimes she makes what she calls vegetable soup, but she still uses a chicken broth.  For that reason, when I make soup I tend to use vegetable broth to get a break.

Yes, miso has no expiration date.  It's kind of scary how long it lasts in the refrigerator.

I've been told that honey is the only "food" that doesn't spoil.

I think I'll stay away from the frozen woolly mammoth meat, though.  That stuff might have been infected with diseases that have been extinct for 10,000 years.  No reason to bring it back. worried

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/04/19 12:11:45PM
1,183 posts

Healthy Living- healthy eating, exercise, weight loss, veggie gardening, etc.


OFF TOPIC discussions

Well the cold (for California) weather has set in, and after all the buttery, gravy-laden Thanksgiving grub, I thought I needed a cleaning.  So last night I made a bit batch of one of my cold weather standards. I call it "hearty vegetable miso soup."  I start with vegetable broth and toss in whatever vegetables I'm in the mood for.  This time around I added onions, bell peppers, orange cauliflower, broccoli, and asparagus.  Seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder, and whatever else I'm in the mood for. I even added a teaspoon of a pre-made barbecue sauce and a couple of shakes of hot sauce.  Get that up to a boil and then turn it down.  Then add a big tablespoon or two of miso paste, which doesn't like to boil but needs to be really hot to dissolve easily.  Once that's all mixed in I add some cubed tofu and top it off with a sliced green onion.  I made enough to last a few of days, but when I have some later today or tomorrow I might add some chicken or salmon or some other protein. It's remarkably tasty and filling while still being really low in carbs and fats.

In the past, less concerned with carbs, I used to toss in some udon noodles.  But that's how flexible this dish is. The soup is great for parties when different people have different dietary restrictions. You can make noodles, chicken, beef, pork, or seafood, and just have all that  available on the side for people to add into their soup, which starts out vegan and gluten-free.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 12/04/19 12:13:27PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
12/02/19 06:10:55PM
1,183 posts

A-d-a


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi @Marg,

First, you should know about the Strothers String Gauge Calculator , which will calculate an appropriate string gauge once you enter the vibrating string length (VSL, or the distance between the bridge and nut) and the note you want to play. The calculator errs on the light side, so feel free to go one or two gauges heaver.

Second, can I ask how you play and why you want to tune this way? 

If you play in a drone style, ADa is considered a "reverse ionian" tuning, meaning you would still be playing in the key of D, but the drones are reversed, with the root being on the middle string and the fifth on the bass string.

If you play chords and fret all strings, ADa is a common tuning for baritone dulcimers when the player wants to play in the key of D to play with standard dulcimers tuned DAd or DAA.  In the case of baritone dulcimers, the middle string would be tuned to the same D as the bass string of a standard dulcimer, with the bass string a fourth below that and the melody string a fifth above.

The 3/4-size instruments such as the McSpadden Ginger or Ron Ewing's baritone dulcimette are sometimes tuned to A as well.  They would be an octave above the baritone, with the bass string being the same as the middle string on a standard dulcimer.

Unless you are using the "reverse ionian" tuning to play in D, however, a normal tuning in A for either the baritone dulcimers or the octave versions of the baritone dulcimers would be AEE or AEa.

It sounds like you are trying to get the Ginger tonal range on a standard dulcimer. You can possibly do it, but you will need to identify the correct string gauges sing the calculator linked to above.  But note that most people who tune that way use a smaller dulcimer, not a standard-sized dulcimer.

And I'm still curious why you want to tune this way.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 12/02/19 07:01:34PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/30/19 02:21:05PM
1,183 posts

Relaxing playlist on ITUNES


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Don, I don't use iTunes or Spotify, so I can't help you with those streaming services.  But I would say that the most relaxing dulcimer music I've ever heard is Mark Kailana Nelson's CD Ke Kukima Polinahe: Hawaiian and Polynesian Music for Appalachian Dulcimer .  That link takes you to YouTube, where you can hear the whole album.  He also released a book of tab for the music on the CD, but I've never learned any of the tunes.  I strongly recommend the album, though.  Whenever I feel really stressed I put on that music, close my eyes, and relax on a breezy island in the Pacific.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/29/19 07:50:59PM
1,183 posts

John Molineux uses a striker on a mountain dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

His playing and singing are good enough (you gotta love the little smile as he sings the slightly bawdy lines) but the rhythms he gets with that striker are just amazing.  I'm in awe.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/27/19 08:44:53PM
1,183 posts

Giving Thanks


OFF TOPIC discussions

Its amazing how things have changed.  I wrote the original post that starts this thread when I was just starting out on the dulcimer and knew no one who plays.  Now I have students who work with me weekly, a monthly gathering, and a couple of annual festivals.  And through that entire evolution, I've relied on all the friends here at FOTMD to share our musical passion.  Without all of you to share my interest in things dulcimer, my life would be genuinely impoverished.  Thank you all.

I wish you all a peaceful Thanksgiving.

 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/27/19 01:10:34PM
1,183 posts

Thanksgiving Menu


OFF TOPIC discussions

Just got an organic heirloom turkey from a farm about 50 miles away in the Sierra foothills.  I'm sure it will be good, but I could have bought a student model dulcimer for the price!  I probably won't get too fancy in preparing it. One year I brined the turkey for two days in an orange juice/Jack Daniels recipe I found somewhere, turning it every several hours.  In the end it tasted like . . . well . . . like turkey.   Nothing special.  I'll probably just do a dry rub with salt and paprika and whatever else I find.

 

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/26/19 03:49:58PM
1,183 posts

NDD (New Dulcimer Day) Thread - Let's See Them


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Is that the dulcimer with the deep voice that you used on your recent audio recording, @Robin-Thompson? It sounds wonderful!

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/25/19 11:31:41PM
1,183 posts

Bending strings


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Don, it just occurred to me that if you were indeed trying to get the note of a 1/2 fret, you could do it by bending a lower string.  So if you wanted an A#, you could bend your D string at the 4th fret.  Or if you wanted a D#, you could bend the A string at the 3rd fret.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/25/19 07:40:12PM
1,183 posts

Bending strings


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Don, I'm not sure what you mean by "at 1/2."  If you bend a note at the first fret, you are actually moving toward the note you would get at the 1-1/2 fret.  There is no way to bend an open string, so you cannot bend a string to get the note you would get with a 1/2 fret.

Bending notes at the first fret is harder than elsewhere. I generally push in on the melody string and pull back on the bass and middle strings.  It also helps to use more than one finger, so you might fret and bend a string with three fingers until you build up the strength to do it with just one.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/25/19 11:31:30AM
1,183 posts

To remove one string or not to remove, that’s the question


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi @Silverstrings.  When I first started playing the dulcimer I played with a double melody string because, well, that's how my first dulcimer was sold to me.  I was advised by more experienced players to remove one of them because it would be "easier" to play with just three strings, but I arrogantly ignored that advice, thinking that since I had played mandolin and have a 12-string guitar, the double strings would not be a problem for me. One day when putting on new strings I decided to leave the extra melody string off to see what it would be like, and I immediately knew I liked the sound better.  A single melody string just makes for such a cleaner and less cluttered sound.  I never put a second melody string on a dulcimer after that moment.

There are other benefits to a single melody string which you point to: it is easier to perform hammer-ons and pull-offs.  And it is nearly impossible to bend strings well with a double melody since the two strings do not bend at exactly the same rate.

Luckily, you don't have to make this decision permanently.  Switch to a single melody string, play for a while, and see how you like it.  If you don't you can always put the extra string back on.

I understand that noter/drone players enjoy zinging up and down the fretboard, and supposedly the double melody strings create a better balance between the melody and the drones.  But if you fret across all the strings, using a single melody string actually creates that balance since all strings play the melody more or less equally.

If you search through the past discussion here at FOTMD, you will find that several address this very issue.  Here is one of them .  (And looking through that old discussion, I realize that I posted nearly the same comments I added here. shrugger  At least I'm consistent.)


updated by @dusty-turtle: 11/25/19 11:36:03AM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/16/19 03:36:13PM
1,183 posts

silver dagger


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

That's a good question, @RonD.  I'm surprised that tune isn't more common in the dulcimer community.

I did find this noter/drone version by Cecil Moody , but the melody seems to be a simplified version that misses out on the more eerie, minor-sounding parts that you here in other versions by Joan Baez or, most recently, Chris Thile .

I also found some lyrics sheets with chords , which are (happily) in the key of D.  I haven't worked through the whole tune yet, but at least the beginning can be played on a dulcimer tuned DAA or DAd.  If you play noter/drone, tune DAA, since the melody begins on that A note for "Don't" and then moves up to E (either 4 on an A string or 1 on a D string) for "songs."

I may work out a version of this tune over the next few days.  If so, I'll post again.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/12/19 12:46:21AM
1,183 posts

Purpose of DAA tuning


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Ronald, you are actually asking two questions here.  The first has to do with traditional dulcimer styles and the second about modern, chord style players.

As Ken has explained, traditionally, the dulcimer was only fretted on the melody string and the bass and middle strings were left to drone. Many fine players still play in that style and achieve the haunting, ancient sound of traditional folk music.  In that style of play, the tuning of the melody string has to change depending on the mode or scale on which the melody of a particular song is based.  DAA and DAd are the two "major-sounding" tunings. Before the addition of the 6+ fret, DAA was the only tuning that could be used to play songs in what we call the major scale, so it was more common.  The addition of the 6+ fret allows us to play that same scale in DAd, but as Ken mentions, if you only play on the melody string, DAA allows three notes below the starting note of the scale. 

But if you play in the traditional drone style, you don't just keep one tuning all the time. The tuning is determined by the melody.  In the key of D, Angelina Baker can only be played in DAA.  Going to Boston can only be played in DAd.  Shady Grove can only be played in DAC, and so forth.

Modern chord players who fret across all the strings and also have a 6+ fret can often (though not always) get those different melodies without retuning.  But both DAA and DAd have exactly the same notes, so neither one has an advantage in that light. Rather the difference between the two has to do with chord voicings.  Chords in DAA are more compact and chords in DAd have greater range, meaning the notes might come from two different octaves.  But one is not better than the other.

At some point a few decades ago, dulcimers tuned DAd with a 6+ fret became a kind of standard for modern dulcimer players.  That is how I play, but there is admittedly something rather arbitrary about it. Had most people tuned DAA when I started playing, that would probably be my main tuning.

Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/12/19 12:28:31AM
1,183 posts

tuning my guitar into a three string dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Ronald, the Kens have already highlighted the most important obstacles: the chromatic fretboard, the placement of the bass string, etc.

I think the biggest obstacle you will have is string spacing.  The strings on the guitar are placed much closer together than are the strings on the dulcimer.  If you are going to play in a modern chording style in which you fret across all the strings, string slots that are next to each other (say the G, D, and A strings, for example), will be too close together for you to get your fingers in there. And if you choose string slots further apart (say the B, D, and low E strings), they will be too far apart and will make chording difficult.

If you want to play in a traditional droning style that string placement will be less of an issue because you will only be fretting (either with a finger or a noter) the string closest to you, so the strings won't have to be equidistant.

But regardless of how you proceed, as Ken states, the slots that exist in your nut and bridge may not work for dulcimer string gauges.

I would suggest another option.  Keep your guitar in playable condition as a guitar.  Find yourself a cheap cardboard dulcimer.  None of them are that loud, but some of them are ridiculously nice and make me feel silly for spending so much money for fancy dulcimers made of fancy woods.  Backyard dulcimer makes a kit and so does Folkcraft.  They take about an hour to put together, or you can pay a little extra and have it pre-made.  You can sometimes find used ones as well.  Those cardboard dulcimers are more than adequate to get you started while you wait for your winter dulcimer.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 11/12/19 12:49:40AM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/10/19 02:37:52PM
1,183 posts

Hog-Eyed Man playing Polly Put the Kettle On


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Yeah, this is really good stuff.  I wish we could separate the audio and hear each instrument separately. Or maybe just get a camera solely on the dulcimer's fretboard. The dulcimer is not playing exactly what the fiddle is, sometimes a simplified melody and sometimes pure accompaniment.  I know it's not traditional, but I like the use of the bass string that begins around 1:14.  It really adds a nice contrast to the fiddle.


updated by @dusty-turtle: 11/10/19 02:38:28PM
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
11/08/19 01:47:18PM
1,183 posts

The Positive Thread...


OFF TOPIC discussions

Robin Thompson: Mark & I got to see Aubrey Atwater & Elwood Donnelly at Appalachian Listening Room in Logan OH this evening.  Such a treat to hear them!  

Indeed, they put on a great show.  Glad you guys got to see them.  Aubrey's clogging just blows me away. And I don't even understand how she can clog while also playing the banjo.

 /