Forum Activity for @Dusty Turtle

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/20/17 06:07:23PM
874 posts

Untabbed songs/tunes you'd like to learn


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Lisa Golladay: Jan, do you need sheet music to work from? 

 

Here's a lead sheet and guitar tab for "The Lakes of Pontchartrain."  I arranged this for the ukulele club last month (gotta love Irish songs with alligators).  I think this could be worked into a gorgeous dulcimer arrangement, but I haven't had time to play with it.  While the arrangement is copyrighted, the song is, I think, in public domain and that should make it ok to post MD tab.  How nice of Paul Brady to share his arrangement!

Lisa, that's a great idea.  The song has a straightforward but uncommon melody.  I did a workshop with Neal Hellman a few years ago and he gave us tab to that tune. My memory is that the crowd wanted a faster tune, so Neal didn't spend too much time on it.  It's a really nice, old tune, though.  And if my memory serves me well, Mark Gilston recently posted a video of his version on dulcimer.

I learned the tune years ago from an album by Trapezoid, the hammered dulcimer group.


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 04/20/17 08:41:38PM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/20/17 06:04:57PM
874 posts

Untabbed songs/tunes you'd like to learn


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Jan, I don't have a specific song to suggest, but I often pick songs from a fiddle or penny whistle website, print out the standard music notation, and then try to tab it out for the dulcimer.  The SMN for those instruments only contains the melody, and often the rendition offered is the simplest possible, so the challenge is in adding some rhythmic complexity and then fitting chords in and around the melody.  Sometimes I just Google "fiddle tunes in D" and see where that takes me.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/19/17 11:28:46AM
874 posts

I am SO in over my head!!!


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

Laurel, some degree of finger cramping is probably normal as you begin to use muscles in your fingers that you have never used before. I've told this story before, but it seems appropriate.  (And old people like me get to tell stories over and over.)  When I was first starting out on the dulcimer about 7 years ago I bought some tablature for a song I really wanted to learn. But no matter how I tried, there were just some chords that I couldn't cram my fingers into.  My fingers actually hurt and I couldn't understand how anyone could get their fingers into those configurations.  In utter frustration I tossed the tablature into the air and forgot all about it. I kept playing, though not that song. I just moved onto stuff I could play more easily. Then about six months later I was cleaning up and moved a bookshelf off the wall to clean behind it. What did I find?  That old tablature.  I sat down trying to remember what it was that had frustrated me so, and lo and behold, I could play the song!  Oh, I wasn't phenomenal, but what had once seemed impossible was clearly do-able.  By continuing to play, I had developed the muscles in my fingers and was able to play the very same chords that had once caused all that pain and frustration.  

There is no reason you can't continue playing noter/drone.  But if you indeed want to learn fingerdancing or chording, take your time and know that little by little, the more you play, the better you'll get and music that had once seemed unattainable will be within your grasp.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/11/17 02:19:03PM
874 posts

Amazing Grace in Cherokee


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

What a voice for someone of that age!  Amazing indeed.  RIP Fran.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/11/17 10:24:04AM
874 posts

Capo positions, tunings, chords and other wonderful things


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Yes, Dulcinina, I am playing a Blue Lion dulcimer on that video. It has Cherry for the back and sides, and Western red cedar on the top.
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/10/17 11:29:25AM
874 posts

A 'beginner dulcimer'


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Indeed, Ken provides the essential info here: a beginner's dulcimer is intended to be as inexpensive as possible.  So you will not find self-trimming tuners or ebony overlay or a bevel to rest your arm or a radiused fretboard or any of the other niceties that you may discover you want on your ideal dulcimer. Hopefully the builder took his or her work seriously enough that the intonation and action are good. 

But certainly if you find a beginner dulcimer to continue to serve your needs, there is no reason to have to abandon it for something more expensive.  I know someone out here in the Bay Area who bought the same beginner dulcimer that Ken refers to and two years later bought a more expensive one, only to discover she preferred the beginner dulcimer, so that is what she plays.

My first dulcimer was not technically a beginner dulcimer, but I bought it before I really understood extra frets or fretboard overlay and stuff like that. I still have the dulcimer, but I consider it a loaner and let people borrow it while they decide if they want to get serious and get their own dulcimer.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/10/17 09:47:23AM
874 posts

Capo positions, tunings, chords and other wonderful things


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Yes, the dulcimer takes 5 minutes to learn and a lifetime to master.
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/09/17 02:53:17PM
874 posts

How and if to add a 1 1/2 fret


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

I am someone who uses a 1+ fret everyday and wouldn't want to go without it. However, I agree fully with those who suggest that historic dulcimers should be left as is.  If you want to add a 1+ fret to a McSpadden that's a few years old, as George did, by all means, go ahead.  But if you have an older dulcimer without any extra frets, you might want to leave it as is and restore it rather than change it.  I don't think Ken's mustache on the Mona Lisa is an accurate image, but perhaps adding some enhanced coloring to the painting would be.  Either one would detract from the original rather than enhance it.

 

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/09/17 02:44:14PM
874 posts

Capo positions, tunings, chords and other wonderful things


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Dana, instead of trying to read and understand, just play and feel.  Play a simple song on your dulcimer. Then put the capo at the third fret and try to play it again. It will work, but you will be in a higher register.  Then, perhaps put the capo at the first fret and try again. It won't work.

In the same way that you need different fingering when you switch tunings, you need different fingerings when you use a capo, with the (partial) exceptions of the third and fourth frets.

Sometimes this stuff makes more sense when you play and get a feel for it rather than try to understand it first. And even if you decide you don't like playing with a capo, you should still have a feel for how it works.

 

Why would you want to know this?  

reason 1: Dulcimer players almost always play in D, but other folk musicians often play in C, G, and A as well.  If you are in a multi-instrument jam, you will want to know how to play in those keys as well. What if you're in a playing circle and someone calls out "Angelina Baker" in the key of G.  You could try to figure it out in your regular tuning, you could retune to DGD and try to figure it out there, or you could slap on the capo at the third fret and play the song exactly the way you played it before, but you will now be in the key of G, just like everyone else.

reason 2: Do you sing?  Despite what some people say about certain keys rather than others working for their voices, it is the tonal range of the melody that determines whether a tune fits your voice.  I can sing some songs in D.  Other's I can't for the life of me.  But if a song doesn't work for my voice in D, it probably will in G or A.  Truth be told, I have a baritone dulcimer that I tune to G or A, but if I'm not home and want to sing one of those songs, I just put the capo on 3 for G or 4 for A and I can sing the song.  Again, the fingering for the chords is the same that I would have used in D, but the capo puts me in a different key.  If I get a chance I'll put a video together to demonstrate this.

A while back I wrote this piece that I've attached called "Strumming in Various Keys out of a DAd Tuning."  I'm sure it was in response to a question here or one posed by my local dulcimer group, but I can't remember.  Maybe you'll find it helpful.


strumming in various keys out of DAd tuning.pdf - 22KB
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/09/17 12:24:26PM
874 posts

Capo positions, tunings, chords and other wonderful things


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

You're close, Dana.  Before we get to capos, let me explain something that didn't occur to me until I had been playing a year or two.  

First, we call the open DAd (or DAA, but when we get to chords I'll be referring to DAd) as a D chord.  Technically, it is missing the 3rd, so it can be D major or D minor.  But if 0-0-0 is a D, then 1-1-1 is an E, 2-2-2 is an F#, 3-3-3 is a G, 4-4-4 is an A, 5-5-5 is a B, and so forth.  And again, those "chords" can be major or minor, so a 1-1-1 will be an E in one harmonic context and an Em in another.  The listeners' ears will fill in either the major or minor 3rd. But that principle alone will allow you to play all kinds of chords that you might not have thought possible.

Second, once we see that pattern, we can say that yes, when you put your capo at the first fret your open strings are in an E chord.  And if we were playing a guitar or banjo, that would be enough. We could move the capo to any position and play as though the capo weren't there, making wonderful music in any key.  But the dulcimer's diatonic fretboard means that even if our open strum is a given chord, we may nor may not be able to play a song we want because the frets are in different places.

However, there are two places the capo (mostly) works: the third fret for the key of G and the fourth fret for the key of A.  Play a simple song you know toward the nut.  Now put a capo on the third fret and play it again, using exactly the fingerings you are used to.  You will see that you are now playing the same song, but in a higher register and in a different key (G instead of D).  This will also work if you put the capo at the 4th fret, but you will have to be aware of the 6+ fret, which is now playing the role of the 1+ fret.  It is also fun to put the capo at other frets and see the sounds you get. For example, many songs that are played in a DAC tuning can be played instead with a capo at the first fret (I am not suggesting a capo is preferable here, just pointing out the similarity).

For another discussion here recently I made the following video to demonstrate how I use the capo: https://youtu.be/MR-T9l7KiEg.

Again, what makes this complicated, Dana, is that on a dulcimer with a diatonic fretboard, a capo not only changes the key but also the mode, so when the capo moves to different frets you cannot necessarily play the same song in  a different key.  You have to find a different song that fits the mode created by the new fret spacing.

As for chords, please refer to that transposition chart I posted in the other discussion.  IN the key of D, we use mainly the D, G, and A chords. When you put the capo at the third fret to play in G, you will be using the G, C, and D chords. However--and this is the beauty of the capo--you don't have to change fingerings. Just pretend you are playing in D, and your chords will magically be transformed (or transposed) to G, C, and D.  That is what my video linked to above tries to demonstrate.


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 04/09/17 12:25:14PM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/08/17 01:13:53PM
874 posts

Wanted: dulcimer by Ron Gibson or Ron Ewing


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

Billy, if you are still in the market for a Rob Gibson, there is one on Ebay right now.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/07/17 06:34:10PM
874 posts

I am SO in over my head!!!


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

This discussion has meandered past the original question, but in very good ways. Dana's comment is evidence of that fact as she is beginning to understand chords and keys in ways she never did before.  Thanks to everyone who has posted on this stuff!  I have some material I can contribute to that discussion and will add that to the end of this post.  But first . . . 

Right now I want to address the original question, which is what you do with those lyrics sheets that include chord charts.  I put together this short video to explain.  And please excuse my appearance and voice; I've been sick with the flu all week.  What I am playing is approximately what you find in the two pdf attachments. The first is tablature for the song.  The second is the lyrics with chords indicated above.

https://youtu.be/XFqGodB5HFw

Hopefully that helps with the original question.

 

As I mentioned, I also want to present some material for those interested in chords and transposition.  The chart below shows the main chords in each of the 4 main keys used in folk music.  What do you do if you are used to playing a song in one key and your song circle suddenly plays it in another key.  It's not hard to transpose, but while you learn to do that, this little chart might be helpful.

transposition chart for basic keys.jpg

I've indicated 6 chords for each key, but notice that half are minor, representing the relative minors of the three major chords.  So there are really three chords involved, each of which has a major and minor version.

Finally, let's take a look at the Circle of Fifths.  This is a remarkably useful device, but right now I only want to point out one thing.  Check out the outer ring and notice that when you pick any chord, you can find the IV and V chords by moving to either side of that chord.  Let's say we pick A.  Move one spot counterclockwise and you see D, the 4th, and one spot clockwise and you see E, the fifth.  G-d forbid you ever have to play in Bb, but if so, just move one spot counterclockwise to find the IV chord, or Eb, and one spot clockwise to find the V chord, or F.   The same pattern works for every chord there.  And notice the green relative minors for each chord as well.  Maybe someday we can collaborate on a discussion of the many other pieces of information embedded in this pictorial demonstration of the relationships between the notes and chords in western music, but this bit about identifying the IV and V chords in any key is all I wanted to show for this discussion.

 

400pxCircle_of_fifths_deluxe_4.svg1.png


Red River Valley.pdf - 15KB

updated by @Dusty Turtle: 04/08/17 02:30:31PM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/06/17 06:25:00PM
874 posts

Any experience with dip joint sterling silver splints?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi Dana. Basically, I've never taken a video down, not even the first ones I posted which I could play a lot better now. You can follow my progress as a player by watching the videos in order.  I also have a some instructional videos that aren't public, meaning you have to have the specific URL to find them.  Here and there in my postings at FOTMD or at my local group's website, you can find demos of tunes or instructional stuff on one technique or another.  Anyway, I'm glad you enjoy my videos. If you ever have a question about how to play one of the tunes, let me know.

There are so many great luthiers out there.  Too many dulcimers. Too little time and money.


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 04/06/17 06:26:07PM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/06/17 05:24:56PM
874 posts

Any experience with dip joint sterling silver splints?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Those ring splints do look kind of cool, Dana, but they also cost.  The tape is cheap. I would stick with it, especially since it has worked for you in the past.

By the way, anytime I am tempted to post about pain in my fretting hand that prevents me (temporarily) from playing, I anticipate a message from Ken extolling the virtues of the noter.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/04/17 12:00:03PM
874 posts

Three or Doubled Melody Dulcimer?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Elidh: Dumb question:  which of the melody strings stays on the dulcimer - the one closest to me or the other?  Thanks!

In most cases, Elidh, it will be the string closest to you.  If you played across all the strings, you would want the remaining three strings to be equidistant from one another. But if you are playing noter/drone, then there is no harm in having the melody string a bit further from the other two.


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 04/04/17 12:00:49PM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/03/17 01:28:52AM
874 posts

Poetry celebrating the beautiful music of the Mt. Dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

That's wonderful, John!  Thanks so much for sharing that.

Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
04/01/17 08:59:42PM
874 posts

limberjack


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

I have bought two limberjacks online.  One was from the late Keith Young.  That is obviously not an option anymore.  

The second was a dog limberjack from these folks on Etsy.   It is solidly made.  No concerns about quality at all.   If you just search Etsy you get lots of other possibilities as well.


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 04/01/17 09:00:13PM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/25/17 02:44:11AM
874 posts

I am SO in over my head!!!


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

If you just have chords and lyrics, you can indeed sing or whistle the song and just strum the chords.  I have my beginning chorders do just that. You will not be playing the melody initially on your dulcimer but just getting used to chord positions.  Just strum out once per beat to start with and sing the song.  Down the line you can start strumming in as well, but for now just strum out once per beat.

However, you will have to make sure that you are able to play the chords you need on your diatonic dulcimer.  If you are tuned to D (as in DAd or DAA) then songs in the key of D are easily do-able.  G and A take a little work.  And beyond that you will have some difficulty.

Start with some easy songs. How about Hank Williams' Jambalaya? It only has two chords: D and A. So start strumming D (002) and then at the end of the vocal line (the "my" in "me oh my oh"), switch to A (101).  Then at the end of the next vocal line (the "bay" in 'Bayou", switch back to D (002).  The song goes back and forth like that with the chord change always coming at the end of the vocal line.  

Down in the Valley is another two-chord song with the chord changes occurring at the end of each vocal line, but it is in 3/4 time, like a waltz.  Why not start with those two songs and get used to strumming to back up your singing?  You will probably start to hear when the chord change is coming, and since there are only two chords, you just switch to the other one at the end of each vocal line.

Once you have those songs mastered, add your G chord (012) and your ready for about 75 percent of all the folk songs that exist.  But first you just have to get comfortable playing chords and switching chords while staying in rhythm. 


updated by @Dusty Turtle: 03/25/17 02:44:40AM
Dusty Turtle
@Dusty Turtle
03/21/17 12:41:29AM
874 posts

Am I hearing an echo? Great silkie


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

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

 

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

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

The technician and the artist


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

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

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

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

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

Discussions on Tablets/Apps have been MOVED to one location


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

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

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

Fret Material


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

Another issue to think about.

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

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

Blizzard in Northeast/March 14th 2017


Off Topic discussions

lots of snow = lots of hot chocolate

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

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

Finger patterns for playing chords - beginner question


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

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

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

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

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

Tunes in the key of A major


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

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

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

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

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

Tunes in the key of A major


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

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

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

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

Tunes in the key of A major


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

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

 

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

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

Tunes in the key of A major


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Strumelia:

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

Tunes in the key of A major


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

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

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

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

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

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

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

WANTED- Chromatic Dulcimers for sale out there?


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

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

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

Finger patterns for playing chords - beginner question


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

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

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

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

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

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

Finger patterns for playing chords - beginner question


Chord/melody modern style playing discussions

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Galax dulcimer for sale


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

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

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

 

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

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

Galax dulcimer for sale


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

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

 

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

Home   fotmd.com 3.png

 

Then click "New Message."

Your Private Messages   fotmd.com.png

 

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

 

New Message   fotmd.com 2.png

 

 


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

Recommendations for new strings and new a bridge?


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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us about your VERY FIRST dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

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

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

What's your favorite FOTMD smiley?


Off Topic discussions

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

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

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

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

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

Laurel Mountain Mini Dulcimer for sale - $150


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

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

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

The Positive Thread...


Off Topic discussions

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

Dixie banjouke with new head small file rotated.jpg

 

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