Forum Activity for @k0k0peli

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
10/04/15 04:54:23AM
21 posts

Creative song mix-ups (NOT mistakes!)


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Sheryl St. Clare:
Ah, the Green Stamp book...How far we have come!

And Blue Chips. Alas, we show our years. References to trading stamps (and stamp collecting!) box tops, decoder rings, coonskin caps, airplane / car kits, hula hoops, rotary-dial phones, 8-track tapes -- what do these mean now? How many survivors remember them? My young grandkids (ages 5 and 7) don't even glaze over when such reach conversation; they just go back to their Android phones.

New song mixups / mashups demand up-to-date material. I don't watch TV so I miss contemporary references. Modern life is continual culture shock with a touch of anomie. Ah well, dulcimer is a constant.

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
10/03/15 04:25:28AM
21 posts

Creative song mix-ups (NOT mistakes!)


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

There's a long tradition of writing rude, funny, rebellious, and/or absurd parody lyrics to popular and well-known music. Think of Allen Sherman's HELLO MUDDA, HELLO FADDA, or everything Wobbly poet Joe Hill wrote, or obscene limericks. One VietNam-era protest piece that comes to mind is THE NAPALM SONG to the tune of YELLOW SUBMARINE: "We're all dropping jellied gasoline, jellied gasoline, jellied gasoline." One of my favorites was by the Gold Coast Singers (infamous for PLASTIC JESUS) with their stamps version of GREENSLEEVES:

I found my love in a grocery shop
Selling pickles, and eggplants, and bottle of pop
She asked me to buy her asparagus tips
And I fell for the smile on her ruby-red lips
GREEN STAMPS were all she gave
Green Stamps were all I took
GREEN STAMPS were all I saved
So I pasted them up in my Green Stamp book
La la-la la la, la la la la, la -- la la!

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
10/01/15 01:38:06PM
21 posts

Number of dulcimers


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Jan, your mentions of whistling and humming reminds me of a recent thread on an 'ukulele site. The question was asked, how to play country-blues-type walking bass line on a re-entrant-tuned 'uke? My answer was, 'ukes have no bass so we can't! Especially with a high-g string on the bottom. But maybe we can fake it by humming or growling low while playing a high note.

The relevant question here would be, do you hum or whistle or growl or grunt in a different octave while play a dulcimer line? Does such a distraction fool or amuse the listener? But maybe this belongs on a thread other than Number Of Dulcimers.

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
10/01/15 11:43:26AM
21 posts

Number of dulcimers


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I remember melodies, harmonies, rhythms, timbres quite well. But knowing where to put my fingers to achieve those -- well, that's another matter, as are words. I used to have a couple thousand songs on tap. Now they're more on dribble. dismay Lines and verses vanish. Songs don't even occur to me unless I'm jogged by seeing titles, and I still must check fake books and crib sheets even for opening lines of songs I've done thousands of times. But my fingers do better than my verbal recall.

Ah, fingering. Muscle memory can drive my fingers on instruments of a familiar size, but if I pick up something off-size, it's like unknown, poorly-mapped territory; I must concentrate hard to avoid missteps. Moving from 24-inch to 28-inch dulcimer, or from 24-inch guitar to 19-inch baritone 'uke -- something in me knows what note(s) to play but the message takes awhile to reach my hands.

Yes, Sam, it is damn frustrating.

My mother-in-law, an esteemed music professional, died a few months ago at age 92. She kept her hearing, sight, and mind right up to then end. I feel mine going. When my count of dulcimers reaches a dozen or more, I hope I can see, hear, and remember them all.

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/30/15 02:04:32PM
21 posts



Will her right-hand tremor allow her to chord with that hand? If not and she sticks with left-hand chording, could she use fingerpicks, or thimbles, or a very large pick, something credit-card size? I sometimes employ a type of frailing technique, closing my right hand in a loose fist, then hitting the strings with the backs of my fingernails. That could also be done wearing thimbles to protect the fingers. The motion is carried by arm and/or wrist rather than by unreliable fingers.

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/29/15 07:11:26PM
21 posts

Number of dulcimers


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I built and sold a dozen or so simple dulcimers long ago. I currently own two, one a Maffick dated 1974, the other a smaller Chinese-made First Act I got for twenty bucks at a WalMart in a Mexican border town a decade ago. I could not pass up THAT deal!

I am getting my workshop back in order and hope to start building again soon, mostly for my own amusement and to entice the grandkids. I can easily see myself with a couple dozen dulcii's around the house. I have schemes for various franken-dulci's -- double-ended, twin-necked, banjo- and reso-dulci's, dulcitars, strumsticks, soprano to baritone, and many different tunings. I like tunings.

These will NOT be luthier-crafted quality -- but the grandkids don't need to know that. coool


updated by @k0k0peli: 09/29/15 07:12:21PM
k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/29/15 06:52:26PM
21 posts

Transition from Dulcimer to guitar


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I started on dulcimer at age 14 and got a guitar a year later, a half-century back. It was not really a matter of 'transition' -- they are quite different beasts. I have mostly played standup instruments (big and little 'lutes') during my life. But dulcimer got me into modes and tunings and drones, tricks I applied to guitar, banjo, etc. IMHO too many guitarists DO stick to good-old EADGBE with maybe an occasional dropped low string.

I have large hands -- which does not stop me (much) from playing little soprano 'ukuleles and mandolins. It occurs to me that someone with fairly small hands considering a guitar could try a 1/2-size 6-string guitar as suggested, or a 4-string tenor guitar or banjo or standard baritone 'uke tuned DGBE like a guitar's top courses. That last may offer the least discomfort because of the lower tension of composite strings. I have seen the pretty decent Washburn baritone 'uke in non-discount music shops for US$70+tax new -- not a huge investment!

The big change in going from lap dulcimer to guitar is thinking in chords instead of diatonic melody lines. Yes, another learning experience...

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/29/15 04:40:30PM
21 posts

String size


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

When I built dulcimers 40 years ago I loaded them with stock Black Diamond dulcimer sets. Of course, wasn't a lot of variety available back then. When I resume building (soon!) I'll have more options. But I have some experience stringing other instruments. I use online string calculators like these:

Acoustic Guitar String Size Calculator: https://wahiduddin.net/calc/calc_guitar_string.htm
D'Addario String Tension 101: http://www.daddario.com/DAstringtensionguide.Page

You can find more by gargling https://www.google.com/search?q=calculating+string+gauges+and+tensions

Many string packs now are labeled with the tension exerted for a specific scale length, string gauge, and tuned note. I use the calculators to find what combinations are suitable for any situation. Any string tuned up from its recommended tension will sound brighter -- until either it or the instrument breaks!Strings tuned too low will sound muddy. Luckily we have a bit of leeway there.

Of course the string's material is important too, and *how* a wrapped string is wrapped. A flatwound or semi-flat string will sound mellower, as will nylon or composite strings, but the latter will probably have less sustain. As it happens, Mimmo (the boss) at Aquila is sending me a set of his new Nylgut (composite) mandolin strings to evaluate. They supposedly have the same tension as steel mando strings -- I wonder if they will sound mellower?

That brings up another possibility. Classical balalaikas use two gut or nylon strings tuned low, and a thin steel high string. I figure I'll experiment with something similar on mountain dulcimer for noter playing: bright, ringing melody line with softer, fading drones.

Something to think about, hey?

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/29/15 04:01:59PM
21 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Realistically, at least two months will elapse before I can really get going. Hold that thought!

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/29/15 03:59:07PM
21 posts

And here's a callus and there's a callus..


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Lap dulcimer with walnut noter and turkey plume (because grandpa raised walnuts and poultry): no calluses.

Standup dulcimer with fingerpicks and bare fretting fingers: minimal calluses, hardly noticeable after my mando- and git-picking fretwork.

Fingerpicking and fretting anything with bare fingers: merely reinforcing my traditional guitar calluses.

Weirdest callus: I was thrown into 'uke-land 5 months ago when my wife bought me a Kala KA6 6-string tenor strung g-cC-E-aA . That top course blew my mind -- the high-a was totally drowned by its low companion. First thing I did was to flip that course. More recently I switched the high-g to a low-G. It is now at G-cC-e-Aa , almost like a Venezuelan cuatro's 500-year-old low-re-entrant G-c-e-A tuning. I find that if I carefully fingerpick (bare fingers!) the top string near the nut, I can make the high-a audible; otherwise, I'm picking bass lines on the top course!

That's where the weird callus appears: on the outside tip of my right index finger. Most other fingerpicking spreads the impact across the tip and pad but THAT particular approach has thickened that portion of the fingertip. A bit disconcerting but I can live with it. So far. thumbsup


updated by @k0k0peli: 09/30/15 01:30:21PM
k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/29/15 03:32:33PM
21 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

[blue jokes deleted]

Yes, I'm more likely in navy or khaki. And I only own one string axe that color, a wee little soprano 'uke. Hmmm, maybe I need to build some fire-engine red standup dulcimers. And the violele I am (slowly) working on, sure. And I was thinking of stripping and refinishing a cheap mandolin -- red stain would be nice. [/me jots notes to self re: perverted instruments]

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/28/15 06:52:54PM
21 posts

How do you store your dulcimers?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I currently have only two dulcimers; I plan to build more when I get my workshop together Real Soon Now. These two currently share space with a couple dozen stringed instruments here in our "morning room". (Another dozen larger axes hang elsewhere in the house.) No cases -- axes in cases tend to stay unused. No wall-hangers either -- wall space not filled with cabinets is hung with artworks and weavings.

But most of 1.5 walls in here are occupied with barrister cabinets whose glass doors sport brass pull knobs. I tie fishing line (or old 'uke 1st strings) to tuning knobs and hang everything possible from those knobs. That's where the dulcis are now. Alas, only a dozen knobs are available so larger instrument rest on the rug and lean against the cabinets between the hanging fruits. It's getting... cosy... there.

Adding more instruments will be ticklish. I plan to sell a few but their spaces will be quickly refilled, oh yes. Tough decisions must be made. Darn!

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/28/15 06:21:42PM
21 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Wahine, Kokopeli (I spell my handle uniquely) is the Trickster God of some Native American peoples, similar (somewhat) to the Norse Loki but not so evil. Kokopeli is usually depicted as a hunchback playing a flute. I play fipple flutes but an not hunchbacked! I saw the avatar I use before I joined UU and knew immediately that it was perfect for me! That could be me (in dreadlocks!) clutching an 'uke, mando, or small dulcimer - that is how I like to hold mine. I very much dislike similar images of Koko clutching an assault rifle. :(

As for wahines... my wife and I wrote a Hawai'ian parody song some time back [copyright (c) 2001]. The chorus goes:

I wanna watch the wahines sway / Down on the sands at Kahuna Bay

We'll feast on mangoes and coconuts / While those hula girls shake their butts

We'll suck on daiquiris and shave-ice / In that trop-pick-i-pickle paradise

We'll plonk and play / Our lives away / Down on the sands at Kahuna Bay

I admit to wearing a grass skirt in the first verse. But the song is all about having big dreams. I'll have to record it someday.

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/28/15 05:42:07PM
21 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Wahine, you are most welcome. I am active there and at Mandolin Cafe - I consider 'ukes, mandos, and MDs as my "small lutes" (and yes, I know dulcimers are zithers). UU, MC, and FOTMD all seem like great little communities for those of us loving "expensive kindling with strings".

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/28/15 05:35:04PM
21 posts

Creative song mix-ups (NOT mistakes!)


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

My favorite version of that is WALKIN' 'ROUND IN WOMEN'S UNDERWEAR but I can't get my brother-in-law to duet with me on it. ;)

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/28/15 04:41:28AM
21 posts

Creative song mix-ups (NOT mistakes!)


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

I find myself inducted into a local Sherlockian society, Holmes' Hounds, at Baker Street West. (My wife's close cousin is the ringleader, alas.) Part if the 'initiation' is to adopt a character from a Doyle story and give a presentation to the society in that persona. I am a Royal Navy officer falsely accused of murder in A STUDY IN SCARLET. My presentation in a couple of months will include mention of my ship (HMS Venus, of course) calling at Naples and my acquiring a Neapolitan mandolin. (That justifies my buying a bowlback mando, right?) I shall sing a mashup of Robt Burns' MY LOVE IS LIKE A RED, RED ROSE and the Grateful Dead's SAINT STEPHEN to the tune of the latter:

My love is like a red, red rose / In and out of the garden she goes / Country garden in the wind and the rain / That’s newly sprung in June

Yada yada.

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/27/15 10:47:26PM
21 posts

Recommendations for a bow to play a Violin Uke


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Patty, I wasn't suggesting that a hairy Popsicle stick would be superior to an actual bow. I'm sure the Stephen Scott Ensemble used such because when you have ten people hunched inside one grand piano, each sawing away at their assigned strings, there isn't room for anything larger! IIRC the Tarahumara (indigenous peoples of Mexico's Copper Canyon region) fiddlers use cornhusk 'bows'. I am intrigued by the concept of a flat stick with horsehair (or the thin leaves of silicon-rich horsetail ferns) glued down, or other raspy natural materials, for use in bowing strings. Just curious.

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/26/15 11:44:12AM
21 posts

Concert Ukulele


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

I own a dozen 'uke-like objects, all rather different, none high-end, ranging from sopranos to a baritone (which I've tuned GGBD like a plectrum banjo). I have an Oscar Schmidt OU28T 8-string tenor (US$93 shipped) which ain't bad but I had to shim-up the bridge to kill a buzz. I have an Alvarez RU22T 4-string tenor (US$100 in the store) and a Harmonia UK201 4-string concert (US$50 from the importer). All these have laminated sides, solid tops (I think), thin satin finish (no heavy gloss), and very listenable tones. Harmonia is a very mixed bag; that UK201 concert is their only decent 'uke IMHO. Most of my other 'ukes are non-mainstream so I won't discuss those now. Anyway, one need not spend vast amounts of cash to get a decent-sounding 'uke. Just be sure to play before you pay.

Anyone with deep 'uke questions should check the very friendly and active Ukulele Underground site.

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/26/15 11:23:14AM
21 posts



I *need* my database to keep track. My current count looks like 35 strings (dulcimers, guitars, banjos, 'ukes, mandos, o'uds, etc), 59 winds (mouth and hand organs, fipple flutes, etc), and 33 'others' (percussion, synths, etc). We used to have a church organ and spinnet piano but those just took up too much space. And I had to leave an indigenous standup bass in Guatemala. Darn.

I am fairly active at Ukulele Underground ; my .sig there is a fairly complete list of my stringed axes. Right now I *mostly* play mandolins and various uke-like objects. I've played guitars for over a half-century although I began with... mountain dulcimer! (Well, clarinet a few years earlier.) Anyway string-wise I'm primarily a folk-blues guitarist with excursions into dobro, Puerto Rican cuatro, Hawai'ian lap-steel, the aforementioned 'uke-oids (4-, 6-, 8-, 10-, and 12-string variants) and mandos, and other mid-size lutes in various tunings. And one of my dulcimers.

Tunings! That's what I'm really into. 'Ukes are great because of all the different re-entrant and linear possibilities as well as open slack-key. I play mandos in standard Italian tuning, or the top course slacked to Irish tuning for singing drones, or take it down three 1/2-steps for blues. in E. My guitar-like objects may be standard or dropped or open or straight 4ths. But I first learned tunings from... Jean Ritchie's dulcimer book, all those modes! I think she corrupted me.

I may fairly often be heard blowing a Native American flute or Irish pennywhistle, or trying to master Rhapsody In Blue on chromatic harmonica, or thumbing a kalimba, or just finger-tapping glassware and ethnic pottery as if they're bells. I just cannot stop.

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/25/15 04:39:33PM
21 posts

Recommendations for a bow to play a Violin Uke


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

A few decades ago the music professor / composer Stephen Scott developed a bowed piano technique "which involves a grand piano [played by] musicians who utilize lengths of horsehair, nylon filament, and other utensils to bow the strings of the piano, creating an orchestra-like sound." I recall that many of the original 'bows' were Popsicle sticks with horsehair glued down. Has anyone here tried such minimal bows? They should be rather inexpensive, yes?

k0k0peli
@k0k0peli
09/24/15 11:10:50PM
21 posts

Federal Judge rules Happy Birthday to You no longer copyrighted


Dulcimer Resources:TABS/Books/websites/DVDs

My childhood version was a slight variation:

. Happy birthday to you / You belong in a zoo / You look like a monkey / And you smell like one, too

But the last few decades, I do the Hare Krishna version:

. Happy birthday / Happy birthday / Birthday, birthday / Happy, happy

No copyright issues with either of those.