High or Low tuning dulcimer.
General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
There seems to be confusion with terminology - so let me put this a different way. How many people tune their dulcimer (no matter what mode) an octave apart starting with the bass string.
Okay lets play a game called - Tune With Me! (are we excited? ) Okay, imagine- or don't- that we are in the standard key of d in ionian mode. Now fret fret number 1 on the bass string and tune the other 3 strings to that; then take the bass and tune down until you can play the fourth fret bass string and match all the other strings. Yay! We are all now in what I referred to as the low low key of A. ( a.k.a baritone tuning) now it does not sound like baritone at all, but a low standard MD. This mode tuned so low is good for slow,quiet, and mournful songs if you tune the melodies to the 6th fret of the bass.(now aeolian mode) Now can you do this same procedure reversed to tune in the same key an octave higher? I can, (if you try to go higher you will probably break a string). the tuning of this mode that we are in isn't alto tuning, but it is higher than most people tune to, right?
why? Granted it can be harder to press the strings down, but this is solved by noter- I don't really like using a noter, but I can use one. ( I like my God-given one ) I have one or two books (and have seen online) that most dulcimers don't tune to this higher tuning- and I haven't seen many people do it because of the so called "reverse ionian" (which is not technically a mode, not being a 1-5-and so on) So is the dulcimer world scared of tuning up here? Do they not like to tune up there because of tradition? If your strings broke during this exercise maybe you should consider getting a lighter gauge.
P.s if tuning Mixolydian you may not be able to get this high or aeolian because you really do have too long of a vsl or too thick gauge strings.
P.s.s- the rule is that for tuning your dulcimer the clouds are the limit not the trees. (: