Forum Activity for @brian-g

Brian G.
@brian-g
07/27/16 05:08:20PM
94 posts

The "I have small hands" idea


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


 

 

While I completely agree with Rob’s bottom-line point (don’t be afraid to challenge yourself) I have a couple comments I’d like to make.  :)

The first is that just because you *can* play a 29” or 30” VSL dulcimer doesn’t mean you *prefer* to.  In my own dulcimer journey, I’ve played instruments with many different VSLs, from little micro-instruments to those with a 30” VSL.  As I’ve done this over the years, I’ve slowly come to the realization that, although I *can* play instruments with VSL’s ranging from micro to 30”, I much *prefer* to play instruments with VSLs between 25.5” and 27”. 

The second is about the idea that a dulcimer with a longer VSL will have more volume and deeper tone.  This has been stated more than once in this thread, but from my experience, this does not have to be the case.  Yes, that’s true when comparing against tiny travel instruments, but full-size instruments with shorter VSLs tend to be louder and more resonant than their longer VSL cousins and typically have more attack (likely due to increased string tension).  It’s been my experience that if the instrument is otherwise full-sized, you really don’t lose anything with VSLs down to about 25”.  Beyond that and I think sustain and the tone at frets above 10 or 12 start to audibly suffer.

My loudest and most resonant instrument by far is a Gallier Starsong, with a 26.25” VSL (it’s actually the loudest dulcimer I’ve personally ever heard, and I’ve heard a bunch). My second loudest and most resonant instrument by far is a Modern Mountain Dulcimer with a VSL of 25.5”.  These are in another league entirely compared to the bunch of other dulcimers I own, including custom instruments with 29’ VSLs, or other Modern Mountain instruments with longer VSLs. I recently spoke to a friend of mine who is a distributor for David McKinney’s Modern Mountain instruments, and he told me (unsolicited) that it’s very common for the shorter VSL (but full-size body) instruments to be louder and more resonant. I've experienced the same thing with McSpadden's  26" VSL (but full-sized) dulcimers compared to their standard dulcimers with a VSL of 28 1/2".

I also think the idea of VSL is, in general, probably less important to chord/melody players (for whom the "small hands" idea is most relevant) than it is for noter/drone players.  When you're playing noter/drone, you've got open strings that are actually vibrating along those longer lengths.  When chording, this is clearly not the case.

To me, the issue reminds me of economy of motion.  Just like a player should theoretically be moving his/her hands no more than necessary to get the desired result on the instrument when fretting, strumming, etc, there’s also no need to stretch farther than you need to “just because”.  There are no bragging rights because you can pull off an A chord on a 30” VSL instrument.  If you can get the tone and volume you like out of a shorter scale instrument, I say go for it. 


updated by @brian-g: 07/28/16 06:12:17AM
Brian G.
@brian-g
07/25/16 05:16:16PM
94 posts

Most "Fun" Pieces.


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

One of my favorite "fun" pieces is Arkansas Traveller. Fun for both hands.  :)

Arkansas Traveller

Brian G.
@brian-g
05/09/16 07:56:59AM
94 posts



Hi Susan,

Barry Taylor's traditional tunebook used to be a great resource for folk tunes. His site appears to no longer be on the Web, but you can still find parts of it.  This page will take you to a mirror of the Canadian Tunes section, where you'll find about 156 tunes in MIDI format. 

The Great Canadian Tunebook

If you have a program like Noteworthy Composer, TableEdit or similar, you can use those MIDI files to create dulcimer tab or standard notation if you wish.

Brian

 

Brian G.
@brian-g
05/06/16 11:57:55AM
94 posts

Does a dulcimer get a fuller tone when broken in?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions


 

 

Hi Marg,

Yes, regular playing and aging of wood in music instruments does help create a more resonant tone, and it’s not the strings. Humidity and “creep” (a glue’s tendency to pull apart slowly when it is put under a continuous load) are believed to be mostly responsible.  It is known that playing regularly in high humidity environments leads to a decrease in loss coefficient (the degree to which the wood dissipates vibrational energy via internal friction) and an increase in stiffness (Hunt and Balsan 1996).  Evidence by Beavitt (1996) shows that creep facilitated by humidity cycling changes the overtone spectrum of an instrument, making it more resonant and more sonorous.  Creep in newly strung instruments is accelerated by vibration absorption in the wood which is why you can help a new instrument settle in faster by playing it or exposing it (via those “blaring speakers” Ken mentions, for example) to those vibrations (Segerman 1996, 2001). It’s also been shown that the gradual loss of hemicellulose in wood (as it decomposes with time) lowers its density without affecting its Young’s modulus (one of the most important determinants of the acoustic properties of a material), which improves the sound radiation coefficient of the wood (another important determinant)(Bucur 2006).  In fact, that understanding has led to some very interesting research in aging soundboards by deliberately infecting the wood with fungus to lower its density while keeping the Young’s modulus constant, again improving the sound radiation coefficient (Zierl 2005, Schwarze 2012).  

Strings also have an effect on tone, depending on their material, age, etc. but they are not responsible for the sweeter sound of aged instruments, except insofar as if you are like me, and much prefer the warmer "deader" sound of old strings that have built up a layer of crud on them (from shed skin cells, oils etc) compared to the brighter sound of brand new strings. (And yes, I realize I'm in a very small minority here with that preference).

Hope that helps a little.

Kind regards,

Brian

 

HUNT, D. G., AND E. BALSAN. 1996. Why old fiddles sound sweeter. Nature 379: 681.

BEAVITT, A. 1996. Humidity cycling. Strad (Nov): 916–920

SEGERMAN, E. 1996. Wood structure and what happened in the Hunt & Balsan experiment. Fellowship of Makers and Researchers of Historical Instruments Quaterly 84, Communication 1471: 53–55.

SEGERMAN, E. 2001. Some aspects of wood structure and function. Journal of the Catgut Acoustical Society 4: 5–9.

BUCUR, V. 2006. Acoustics of wood, 2nd ed. Springer Series in Wood Science, Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg, Germany.

ZIERL, B. 2005. Obtaining the perfect violin sound - with fungi. Website https://www.empa.ch/web/s604/01-pilzholz [Accessed 06 May 2016].

Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine. "Treatment with fungi makes a modern violin sound like a Stradivarius." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120908081611.htm>.


updated by @brian-g: 05/06/16 07:25:56PM
Brian G.
@brian-g
01/04/16 04:48:34PM
94 posts

"New" harp dulcimer and Gallier A-frame prototype...


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

Thanks Lexie and Dusty! I appreciate the comments, and the info on the tune.  :)

Brian G.
@brian-g
01/03/16 09:09:45PM
94 posts

"New" harp dulcimer and Gallier A-frame prototype...


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

Thanks Patty and Robin.  :) I'm glad you like it.  And Robin, you are much too kind!

Brian G.
@brian-g
01/03/16 08:14:37PM
94 posts

"New" harp dulcimer and Gallier A-frame prototype...


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


Hello and Happy New Years all. :) A few people had asked me what my harp dulcimer sounds like, so here is a link to a short video. This is a quick run-through of La Mort de Coucy, a tune I learned from a book by Neal Hellman sometime in the mid 1990s, if I recall correctly.

 


Brian G.
@brian-g
12/09/15 11:04:25PM
94 posts

"New" harp dulcimer and Gallier A-frame prototype...


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

Thanks again all. Yes, I will try to post a video soon.  :)  Ken - yes, I figured it had to be John.  I remember we had also corresponded via e-mail briefly when he was thinking of coming east for some shows.  I don't believe he ever did make it here at that time.  In any event, yes - he is a fantastic harp guitarist.  For anyone who might be reading and may be curious, here is John Doan introducing the harp guitar and playing Wake (Waiting for the Dawn):

John Doan, harp guitar, Wake (Waiting for the Dawn)

Brian G.
@brian-g
12/09/15 01:58:56PM
94 posts

"New" harp dulcimer and Gallier A-frame prototype...


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

Hi all!  Thanks again for your comments. Yes, I'll eventually get around to making a video. 

Ken, you are absolutely correct.  Hey, would your friend in Oregon happen to be John Doan?  He was friends with a good friend of mine who unfortunately was killed in a hit and run accident, so I don't find my way to Oregon all that often anymore, but I believe I met John once or twice (though I doubt he'd remember me). 

Brian G.
@brian-g
12/09/15 07:25:19AM
94 posts

"New" harp dulcimer and Gallier A-frame prototype...


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

Thanks all. I'm really enjoying both of them.  Jan, do you have any photos or video of either of yours? I'd love to see them.  Also, can you please message me if you have any current contact for Bob S.?  I'd love to be able to ask him a couple questions.  :)

KR,

Brian

 

Brian G.
@brian-g
12/08/15 07:36:49PM
94 posts

"New" harp dulcimer and Gallier A-frame prototype...


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

I just added a couple of very special instruments to the collection and thought I'd share. The one on the left is a walnut, purpleheart and spruce harp dulcimer built by Bob Schepis. According to correspondence I have, it is the only harp dulcimer he ever built (it's the 86th instrument overall that he built). I found it interesting that next to his signature he wrote Psalm 150:3-4 ("Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and Pipe!")

The instrument on the right is a prototype by Gary Gallier , of the Gallier A-frame dulcimer. It's mahogany and redwood, serial number A-1, built in Oct. 2005.

Both of these instruments look and sound great and I'm pretty happy to have them. Thanks for having a look.  :)


newestdulcimers.jpg newestdulcimers.jpg - 61KB

updated by @brian-g: 06/08/16 09:24:05PM
Brian G.
@brian-g
10/27/15 05:17:53PM
94 posts

Tell us about your VERY FIRST dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

My first dulcimer was an all-walnut teardrop Folkcraft. I traded a student classical guitar I was no longer using for it at Mary and Rich Carty's Folk Music and Basketry Shop here in NJ.  That was back in 1995 or 1996.  I ended up selling or trading it away as I began buying other dulcimers to try to figure out exactly what I wanted in an instrument, but I really wish I had it back. The scale length is not what I now know I prefer, but it had such a nice mellow warm tone...

Brian G.
@brian-g
06/20/15 10:47:27PM
94 posts

Tunings you like to use on your dulcimer


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

In order of use, for me it's probably somethng like DAD, DAC, DGD, EAA, DAA, DAG, and I'll often play all of those a half or a whole step down.

Brian G.
@brian-g
01/19/15 10:46:06PM
94 posts

help me name that fiddle tune -- please!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi Dusty. Yes, it does work. I was pretty skeptical also. Maybe I'll throw up a little demo so you can see. It's not like the pop music ones that tell you the artist/song/album and where to buy it; this one takes you to the musical notation and can play back that notation. I've tried playing a number of tunes for it to try to decipher and it does a very good job. It works best if you just give it a single-line melody only.

Brian G.
@brian-g
01/19/15 07:48:11PM
94 posts

help me name that fiddle tune -- please!


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi all! I just wanted to mention that you can use TunePal for exactly these kinds of situations. This is a free online service you can access, or you can spend a few dollars and get the app for iDevices and Android. It does a number of things, but one of the coolest is that you play what you know of a tune and the app will then return a list of tune possibilities and percentage confidence levels. You can click on a result and get the music for the tune, and the app can play the tune back for you from that music to make sure it's what you wanted. You can also search tunes by keyword, tag tunes to your person tunebook and more.

I realize I sound like a commercial, so let me state that I have no association with the App or its author; I'm just a very satisfied user who thought others might also like the app. I certainly think it's worth the few bucks being charged for it. :)

Brian G.
@brian-g
11/19/14 06:27:45AM
94 posts



Hi Kate and welcome to FOTMD. Looks like Dusty has provided what you needed, but I wanted to respond to his comment "the festival season is basically over." That's true, but there is the Pocono Festival coming up in January, I believe, so if you're in the east perhaps you'd want to take a trip to PA. :)

Brian G.
@brian-g
11/12/14 07:18:56AM
94 posts

Video Links for the Hindman Dulcimer Homecoming


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

This is wonderful! I can't wait to check these out after work today. :) Thank you!

Brian G.
@brian-g
10/02/14 07:56:14PM
94 posts

performance play list


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

One thing I don't believe I saw mentioned yet is key. As in, vary the key of the tunes you are playing. An entire performance in D can get old pretty quickly, even if you are varying tempo, mood, etc. And you don't even necessarily have to retune (I mention that only because is seems there are some people/groups who can't stand the idea of retuning out of DAD or DAA), just play in a key other than D. Your audience will appreciate it. :)

Brian G.
@brian-g
08/13/14 07:04:52AM
94 posts

what was your first song on the dulcimer?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Initially I learned a few simple tunes all around the same time. They were "Boil Them Cabbage Down", "Mairi's Wedding", "The Southwind" and "Rosin the Beau/Bow". I believe the one I actually learned first was "Mairi's Wedding", but it might have been "Boil Them Cabbage Down". In one sense it seems like so long ago, and yet in another it feels like yesterday. :)

Brian G.
@brian-g
08/04/14 06:58:53AM
94 posts

Looking for clarification on D A d


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi John. I'm not sure I understand your question, so this may not be a very helpful reply. :)

DAd is a tuning, not a mode. To distinguish between the two possibilities you mention, I'd say something like "I'm tuned DAd and the tune is in D-mixolydian" or "I'm tuned DAd and the tune is in D-major (ionian).

Brian G.
@brian-g
07/31/14 06:58:38AM
94 posts

Enter FOTMD's 5th Birthday Pickled Dulcimer CONTEST!


OFF TOPIC discussions

Congratulations to all of the winners! :)

Brian G.
@brian-g
06/23/14 04:01:20PM
94 posts

Which is Better, a 3 or a 4 Stringed Dulcimer?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Define "better", please.

Brian Beach said:

I'll try this again:

Which is better:

A: 3 string dulcimer

B: 4 string dulcimer

Pick only one answer.

Brian G.
@brian-g
05/24/14 08:49:53AM
94 posts



For dulcimers with a rich full tone, I'd also add Gary Gallier to Ken's list above. I recently received mine, and it is fantastic.

Also David McKinney (Modern Mountain Dulcimers). Wonderful instruments.

Brian G.
@brian-g
02/06/14 05:15:27PM
94 posts

Dulcimer Challenge


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Who stated they could tell the difference between an hourglass and a teardrop "regardless of other variables"?

If the point is to distinguish between shapes based on sound, then all other variables must be held constant . If they are not, you do not have a test of shape's effect on sound. Period.

You are not testing what you think you are. :)

Ken Hulme said:

Ah, but you see, that has been the brag from several people all along -- regardless of other variables these people claimed they could distinguish an hourglass from a teardrop. So that's how I designed the test. Not a dozen McSpads of different shapes. Not trad vs modern volumes, not VSL. At least once a year someone says "I can tell an hourglass from a teardrop." Can you?

Brian G.
@brian-g
08/18/13 09:15:09PM
94 posts

Si Bheag Si Mohr dulcimer duet


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Very very pretty. Thanks for sharing this Dusty.

Brian G.
@brian-g
07/30/13 07:40:53AM
94 posts

The 'Other' Dulcimer......the beaten kind


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

Since the uke was brought up in this thread, and since I just saw Jake Shimabukuro again for the millionth time last night, I just wanted to mention that if you like uke, you need to hear Jake. He's done for uke what Bela Fleck did for banjo. He also happens to be a very nice guy. You can see a free documentary here:

Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings

Enjoy!

Brian G.
@brian-g
07/29/13 11:15:06PM
94 posts

The 'Other' Dulcimer......the beaten kind


Adventures with 'other' instruments...

I was led to the fretted dulcimer from the hammered dulcimer, which I learned to play first. I still have my beautiful old custom Dusty Strings D25, and still love the thing even though I haven't seriously played it in a while. To David I just wanted to mention - don't look at the strings; look at your bridges instead. Much easier that way. :)

Brian G.
@brian-g
08/12/12 12:01:18AM
94 posts

Are Dulcimer Players Nicer?


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi Gayle! I don't have an answer to your question, but just wanted to take a moment to say welcome to FOTMD. :) As you've noticed, it's a very friendly group here, so please make yourself at home, and enjoy. I hope to see some of your videos soon. :)

Kind regards,

Brian

Brian G.
@brian-g
01/12/12 07:28:03AM
94 posts

What's up with the headless vids?????


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

Hi Mandy. I can only speak for me, but here are my reasons:

I use my phone to make these videos, and it has no optical zoom. If I put the phone far enough back so that you could see my face, the dulcimer and the rest of me would be just a tiny speck overall in the frame. My initial intention for these videos was to serve as a kind of visual record for tunes that I know (since I had forgotten many I used to know from when I played in the mid-1990s). Therefore, it was important to me to be able to see both of my hands, so that when I forget one of these tunes, I could actually remember/relearn it from the video. Since then, I've had some other people tell me that they also like that they can see both hands, so after that I never though to try to change the camera angle.

Then, of course, there's the fact that I am not going gracefully into this whole "losing-my-hair-as-I-age" thing, and there's no need to highlight that. :)

Finally, I don't want to take any more focus away from the shirts. Ask John K and John Henry - it's all about the shirts. :)

Brian G.
@brian-g
08/02/14 06:14:21AM
94 posts

Anyone familiar with Gallier Dulcimers?


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

Since this thread has been resurrected, I will chime back in and mention that I now have my Starsong also. It is absolutely wonderful. It looks fantastic, but more importantly it sounds absolutely lovely. It's easily the most responsive dulcimer I've ever owned. I am extremely pleased with it. I'll also echo Ilene's comments above - Gary is a great guy and a fantastic musician. For anyone who decides to get on the build list - you won't regret it. It may take a while, but you will be thrilled.

One more thing to mention - after playing many dulcimers with different VSLs over the years, I've come to realize I'm most comfortable playing instruments with VSLs from 26 in. to 26 1/2 in. I asked Gary to build mine with a 26 1/4 in VSL (instead of his usual 27 in VSL), and he's now got that length templated. So for anyone out there who may want a Starsong but was thinking they wanted the smaller VSL of Gary's A-frame model (VSL= 26 in), you now have another choice. :)

Brian G.
@brian-g
04/08/14 09:01:23PM
94 posts

Anyone familiar with Gallier Dulcimers?


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

Thanks for your response, van. Your instrument sounds beautiful. Enjoy it!

Brian G.
@brian-g
04/08/14 03:39:18PM
94 posts

Anyone familiar with Gallier Dulcimers?


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

Hello Van. Congrats on your Starsong. I'd love to see/hear it if you'd like to post some photos/videos. If you don't mind me asking, what woods did you go with?

I am next up on Gary's build list (I was two people behind you on his list.) For anyone who's thinking of ordering, do it sooner rather than later - there were 15 people behind me on the list as of April 15, 2013, and I'm sure that number has grown significantly. I've only had a chance to play a couple Starsongs, but they were both gorgeous instruments to play, to listen to, and to look at. I am eagerly awaiting my own. :)

Brian G.
@brian-g
12/31/11 05:38:58PM
94 posts

Anyone familiar with Gallier Dulcimers?


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

Hi Vivian,

I don't know whether the situation has changed at all, but I had spoken with Gary back in early July and at that time he told me that he was having to turn away orders and that if took a new order the wait would be at least 18 months due to people already on a waiting list.

Gary's dulcimers do look and sound fantastic. The hourglass Starsong was $1,400 back in July.

Kind regards,

Brian

Brian G.
@brian-g
12/28/11 08:24:54AM
94 posts

A very wonderful Christmas gift...


General mountain dulcimer or music discussions

What a fantastic gift and thank you from John Henry. I realized right away that this was a very special community of people as soon as I joined, and this gift to you is, in one sense, a gift to all of us. Thank you, Stumelia, for making such a great place available to us, and thank you, John, for this wonderful example of generosity and kindness.

Best wishes to all for a wonderful new year.

Kind regards,

Brian

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