Howie Mitchell Dulcimer Building Book and Booklets Available Again!
Are the PDFs still available? The links don't work anymore
Are the PDFs still available? The links don't work anymore
Well I couldn read music notation either when I started with the dulcimer since I also started with cowboy chords on the guitar.
The good thing is that you don't need this since dulcimer tabulature is so easy to read (just press the noter or finger on the fret number of the indicated string).
I'm pleased to hear that you are making progress now, happy playing
Another hint concerning the myers pickups/microphones: After a embarassing situation where the pickup didn't work (another open mic at a different location) it turned out that you might need an impedance transformer or a passive DI box to get a signal. I guess the other venue plucked me right into one they had at disposal. The passive DI box also has the advantage that it will shield the mic from any phantom power (which might toast it I guess this happened to my mic because at some point it suddenly didn't worked any more. Thanksfully my german music store has good customer service and just sent me a new one without charge).
The information is a little bit hidden on the Myers website:
In my college days in Germany some fellow students and I used to have a proverb: "Everything has already been said, but not yet by me" ("Es wurde bereits alles gesagt, aber noch nicht von mir"). It was used to make fun of people who love to hear themselves talk. At the risk of being one here some further thoughts:
First: I agree totally with Ken that you should stop worrying and start playing. I too was quite confused at the beginning from reading to much about modes/tunings etc pp until I started just playing in Ionian tuning (DAA / CGG). I used tabs from Jean Ritchies Dulcimer book and Gamses "Best dulcimer method yet", later from Strumelias excellent blog.
At some point I wanted to try to play songs in a minor key and just used the given tuning (after some help from this forum).
Continuing this I ended up playing songs in different tunings for different modes and somehow the whole mode/music theory stuff started to make sense because I heard the musical relation between the different strings. I also started to hear when the tuning sound wrong (still not good enough to tune by ear).
It just needs time, so stop worrying and start playing. Before I played dulcimer I already messed round with chords on my guitar so I was quite confused by all this theoretical stuff. Why couldn't I just have some chords and started playing?
It got better when I realised, that noter/drone doesn't need chords so is actually easier for beginners but the price is that you need to learn some tunings.
Second: For actually doing this two other books might be helpful (they definitively were for me!):
First Neal Hellman's dulcimer chord book. Although it's for chord playing it was a big help for me when I started playing noter/drone. Why? Because he also has a big introduction of the several tunings and modes, something most chord instruction books don't cover. He need to do this however since he also gives chords for different tunings to give his readers and students more options in their repertoire.
Another great one is Mark Nelsons collection of dulcimer tabs for old time songs:
He also gives a lot of differnet tunings without getting to theoretical. He just says something like: Use this tuning for this song or any other tuning for the mode.
Although many of the tabs are for chord style there are one for noter/drone too (I learnt The Cuckoo and Wedding dress from his tab). And like Hellman he uses chords for different modes, to give his readers more options.
Although I'm strictly a noter/drone player I would recommend both books to any beginner (with Jean Ritchies Dulcimer Book and Dulcimer People which you already have) no matter which style they actually want to approach.
Just my two cents.
Best regards, Jost.
I started with Ritchies Dulcimer Book and would recommend it to any beginner.
In my opinion her introduction to Tunings is a good thing behause sticking to one Tuning will limiting your Musical Repertoire.
For DAA tabs I would recommend Gamses Best Dulcimer Method yet. It‘s for CGG-Tuning, which is DAA just for C.
One caveat though: These are Books for Noter/drone /fingerdancing, so not a big help for Chord playing
The style also depends on your instrument and your fingers ( at least in my humble opinion). My dulcimers fretboard is quite narrow thus I plain only noter/drone style ( Sound is great!) since my fingers always touch their neighbour strings. Of course one might argue that the fretboard isn't too narrow but my fingers to thick 😀
I'm saving money for getting another one with a wider fretboard now.
So: If you are interested in a certain style it might be an idea to get an instrument designed for it.
Like Dusty I would suggest to try several style and See what fit's you best.
Just my two Cents
Btw: I'm playing guitar ( first chord strumming, now mainly finger-picking) too. I switch Instruments when one tires my fingers out too much.
Fellow fotmd member Martin Oesterle sell solidbodys in his webshop. I don't know whether he ships outside Europe and the shipping costs but asking never hurts:
Kens suggestion will be cheaper in any case though
Concerning the string gauge: Like John pointed out you should be fine. One caveat though: Depending on the strings gauge not every tuning will work because the strings will be too sloppy or break. In my opinion this is not a problem per se: New strings are cheap and you can only learn by experimenting. Just keep always some fresh strings and a string bender ready for quick replacement ;)
Jean Ritchies Dulcimer book is a good start for noter/drone play. Her book "Dulcimer people" (available used) is also a good one, it even includes instructions for chord play.
Neal Hellmans Dulcimer Chord book is also a great start for beginners since it also has a lot of explainations for odd tunings/modes even If (like me) you never play chords at all.
I like Mark Nelsons "Favorite Old-Time American Songs for Dulcimer" too, it's a mix of chord and noter/drone style.
Have fun with your dulcimer!
Congratulations to your new dulcimer. Look like you found a real treasure and bargain
I just noticed that you play bluegrass banjo and released a method for it. So I have another book recommendation: Mark Nelsons Favorite Old-Time American Songs for Dulcimer https://www.melbay.com/Products/97189EB/favorite-oldtime-american-songs-for-dulcimer.aspx
It features what the title promises and features around 100 tabs of old time folk songs. Probably you will recognice most of the them, since some of them are featured in your method too. What I like about this book that it contains tabs for the classic noter/drone playing but also for the modern chord style. So it's quite nice for beginner students which might need some time and experimenting to decide which playing style they prefer. Even better: It features several tunings and explaining them and their use for different keys, even for chord style. This might not sound like a big deal but most chord players and instruction books stick to DAD tuning. Which is just fine (everybody should do what suits them best) but I appreciate that Mr Nelson give his readers more options.
There is just one bad thing to say: He also has a kind of little story to every song. In most cases though I think that they are just goofy or too far fetched to be enjoyable. On the other hand I'm German so it might just be my humorlessness genes ;) Otherwise it's a great book and the storys are easy to ignore.
wally-venable makes a good point with using a tuner to check the freet placing/set up.
So: If you can check in the store or order online with return policy this should be enough to check the basic playability of the instrument. This is btw a good idea to do in any case, even if the instrument is more expensive or from a renowed builder. You never know how it was stored before ;)
I remembered that this site had a warning against some cheap brands thus I used the search function.
So for another point of view concerning Apple Creek and two other low level brands:
Of course wally-venables argument for trying Apple Creek with a tuning app/device holds true for these too.
I wonder why the myers pickup didn't work for you. Which model did you try?
I'm quite happy with mine ( great sound and working on my other instruments too):
One reason I can imagine : They are real microphones thus feedback might be a problem in some cases ( e.g. in a band or group setting). In the open mic at the local pub I frequent I didn't had any issues up to now. I play solo though.
Did you try to contact their support for help or a refund?
I didn't need it up to now but read only good things about it.
Well according to fotmd and the Facebook groups AppleCreek is something of a lottery. You can end up with a cheap and great sounding instrument but you have also a high chance of getting expensive firewood. I wouldn't risk my bucks for it.
So I would also suggest a kit by Folkcraft or some other renowed builder.
If I would be living in the USA a cardboard md would have been my first Instrument.
The shipping costs to Germany were to expensive so I ended up with an nice instrument by a local builder.
Just my two Cents, your mileage may vary
If you are at the stage where you want to experiment just a bit but don't quite understand all the details yet, then you can stay with your first familiar tuning, OR play with DAd and DAA both, OR you can dip your toe in the water by adding a third tuning- I'd suggest DAC, for playing the beautiful lonesome sounding Aeolian mode tunes like Shady Grove or Cluck Old Hen or Pretty Saro.
Many good answers already. I will just add something to confuse you even more
You asked for the GDG tuning. This is (in theory) the same tuning like DAD (mixoyldian mode) just for the key of G. There is a catch though. Depending on the VSL of the dulcimer the bass string might break if you try to tune it to this.
For such cases there are the so called reverse tunings which change the key of the bass and middle string. Thus GDG gets DGG, GDD (G ionian) gets DGD, GDC (G dorian) gets DGC etc. It works quite well and might be of interest when playing something in the coresponding key.
As introduction I highly recommend Neal Hellmanns Dulcimer Chord book which has a great introduction to the modes and tunings. I don't even play any chords (strictly noter/drone player on my Dulcimer, if I want to play chords I pick up my guitar) but would recommend this book to any dulcimer beginner (noter/drone or chords) because of the good introduction to the modes.
Another unorthodox way to tune are the so called bagpipe or unison tunings: They are mainly used for mixolydian mode. The idea is to tune the middle and melody strings like the Bass just one octave higher. Thus for D mixolydian the bagpipe tuning would be tuned like this: Tune the dulcimer to DAD. Tune midlde string from A to the same pitch as the melody strings.
It works great for mixolydian tunes like Old Joe Clark, Going to boston etc. It's also nice to take tabulature for DAD (or another mixolydian tuning) and try it out in a bagpipe tuning: London Bridge, Mary had a little lamb, Brother Jacob and other nursery rhymes just get a lot more interesting just by changing the pitch of the middle string ;)
Hellmann's Dulcimer Chord book and Jean Ritchies book "Dulcimer people" both have a section by Holly Tannen where she propagates these unison/bagpipe tunings for jam sessions with fiddlers/guitarists etc especially Irish music.
Stuff like these is part of the reason I love the dulcimer so much: Even as somebody who never had a real musical education (my last music theory lesson I had at school when I was twelve years old and I forgot everything) you get a basic introduction just by having fun with the instrument.
I hope I didn't add to much confusion :)
Just noticed this post, @jost. How's the 12-string been treating you? I have a 12-string guitar made in Canada by Seagull that I bought several years ago, just before I discovered the dulcimer. It's fun to play something with such a full sound, isn't it?
I don't play, but have several friends and bandmates who play 12 strings, and I know 3 players of 24 and 30 string Harp Guitars -- talk about "full sound"!"
Hollar when you're ready, Jost, and I'll build you the dulcimer equivilent -- 9 strings (3 courses of three strings each), on a 3" deep x 9" wide body, 27" VSL, with a double-back like a Galax.
I didn't notice this post before either. My only experience with at 12 string guitar was a Yamaha that a college roommate owned. I played around with it some, but I never got into it. That was over 50 years ago. I do like the sound of a 12 string, but it is not something I enjoy playing.
Do you have a sheet? I think a G minor tuning might work for Noter/Drone playing and would like to try this. Since you clearly want to play with chords this is propably not of much help to you though.
And thanks for the youtube recommendation: It's a lovely tune.
Thank you so much for posting this. I was lucky to see Steeleye Span a couple of times "back in the day" when they were in their prime, when I lived in Boston, Massachusetts. Fantastic video.
The TV show Rockpalast is still running today. It was started in Germanys public radio/tv WDR (Westgerman Broadcasting Westdeutscher Rundfunk) in the 1970s. Every episode features another show from a band/single artist. Most of the times they were actual live shows other times (like this Steeleye Span show) they were recorded "live" in the studio.
For real live shows they often recorded them in the Dortmund Westphalenhalle since the WDR is located in Cologne. Both cities (Dortmund and Cologne) are large citys in the state North Rhine-Westphalia.
The Westphalenhalle used to be quite popular as venue for big names of show buisness.
Youtube has a lot of these shows although mainly all kinds of Rock music.
So looking for Rockpalast episodes will often lead to live material with good audio/video quality :)
I already posted about it in the "Dulcimer ancestors group" last summer . I now manged to record a little demo so I will repost here now:
When I visited my parents (they live in East Frisia near the town of Norden) some weeks ago I bought an eight-stringed frisian hummel from fellow FOTMD member Wilfried Ulrich. He is an outstanding artisan and showed me also his other instruments (including several hummels, epinettes, monochords, dulcimers and bowed dulcimers (one even with sympathetic strings!). If you ever visit Northern Germany try to arrange a visit and shopping at his place, you will not be disappointed:
I also purchased Wilfrieds book about the history of the hummel, his instruction book and several collections of hummel tabulature. According to him the tabs should also work on a dulcimer.
Since then I try to play the hummel. It's big fun but also quite challenging in it's own.
The fretboard is much wider than on my dulcimer and covers four strings. So I could even use it for learning dulcimer chord playing. That's the nice part.
Wilfried recommends in his instruction book to learn a kind of fingerdancing style. The benefit is, of course, that you can play notes on the other strings. I will need some time for it though since I play my MD only with the noter. So finger dancing is a challenge, but a welcome one!
The other challenge is to get the right strumming pattern to play all strings (including the four drones without fret board) without sounding bad or eleminating the melody strings. On my dulcimer I use the thumb for strumming from the melody strings to the drones and the HEDIM pick for playing from the drones to the melody strings. On the hummel you start always with the melody strings and play the drones just when they fit in (usually at the beginning of a bar). So this is a change as well.
some weeks ago I saw an interesting ad in Facebook: A gentleman offered to sale his fender 12 string guitar for 50% of the original price. Since this sounded to good to be true I googled the model.
It turned out to be a "signature model" of some punk musician (thus kind of silly "evil" "Hellcat" and "Skull" inlays). Although the inlays are debatable the reviewers agreed that the sound has much value for money.
And it has a pickup included.
So I wrote the owner a message I would be interesting to try it.
From the first sound I was hooked. He explained to me that he had a kind of serios "Guitar acquisition syndrome" (I feel with him) and needs to downsize his collection.
Good for me, I ended with a great sounding fender twelve strings guitar:
Better quality pictures on my profile page.
And a demo recording so you might get an idea of the sound:
somebody posted this in one of Facebooks dulcimer/Steeleye Span groups. Great sound and video quality:
Well in the end it turned out my musical skills are not enough to learn a new song in such a short time. Since I already can play it on the guitar I took my guitar to my coworkers farewell event. Even without the dulcimer he was quite happy about it and we had a nice farewell party.
Thanks for your input, I guess I will practice the song the next months so I can play it on new years evening :)
here is a tab for playing Auld Lang Syne in DAA tuning in noter/drone style. Thumbstrum might work too.
For the tune I used the version in Peter Burschs 1970s songbook "Das Folkbuch". Since the tune sounds like most versions I'm aware of it should be safe regarding copyright.
For the lyrics I used the German wikipedia.
Happy droning, Jost.
Thanks Ken, he does the same thing as I: Maintaining Linux servers :)
Thanks for the referece to Morgenrot but I think I'll stick with Auld Lang Syne. Finding the three tunes and unterstanding their differences are a bit of hassle tbh. There are versions with 2/4, 3/4 or 4/4 rythm.
Then they tend to be in different keys and different notes as well
Last but not least it's nearly impossible to find a tab-file to use MuseScores3 "dulcimer tab conversion". Guess I will have to do the tab by myself from the version in Peter Burschs (German guitar teacher and author) songbook "Folkbuch".
I can already play Burschs tab on the guitar, so I have a reference how it should sound. And I have a combined guitar/dulcimer tab for usage with my brothers and mother.
Best regards, Jost
one of my coworkers has his last working day next week. We will have a little farewell party.
I'm thinking to play something for him. Sadly I don't know any song that would be fitting.
Do you have any ideas and tabs? Song should be easy to learn and for noter/drone playing.
One idea of mine is auld long syne but otherwise I'm lost.
Best regards, Jost.
Another lovely song from the Zupfgeigenhansl is this one "Dunkle Wolk". Originally it was a song of traveling journeymen. Most verses were lost for a long time thus Hans Breuer assumed it was about the thirty year's year since his source was a print of the first verse from 1646. He wrote a second verse and added a third from a song of moravian journeymen thus creating the most known version today. This version was recorded by Hamburg folk group Liederjan in the 1970s . Another version was made by singer/songwriter Hannes Wader. A quite nice touch is in the version of actor/singer Manfred Krug with lute accompiement.
I used the tune printed in the songbook "Kein schöner Land in dieser Zeit" of Thomas Friz and Erich Schmeckenbecher. The tune is identical to Breuers version, they give some different chords for the guitar though. Since the tune is the traditional tune they might be typos or other errors.
Tuning is DAg or any other dorian tuning (CGF,DGC etc)
As with "Wenn alle Brünnlein fließen" I still have to practice so no sound file at the moment.
Have fun :)
some might remember I tried to arrange transsylvanian saxons folk song "Klein wild vögelein" for mountain dulcimer. In the end it didn't worked out so I'm still playing it on guitar.
In the process however I discovered some other German folk songs who work a lot better. Although I still need to practice them (so no sound files at the moment) I'm ready to upload my tabs now.
One caveat though: Although I think the songs are in public domain it might be they are actually not. I took versions from several songbooks. Although the songs are traditional the tune in the song books might be a newer arrangement. I'll flag these versions so moderators might remove them, if they feel that they are not ok.
The first song i want to provide you with is the charming love song "Wenn alle Brünnlein" fließen.
There are several great recordings, one by German folk duo Zupfgeigenhansl:
Zupfgeigenhansl-Wenn alle Brünnlein fließen
They changed the tune a little bit to fit the mandolin accompaniment of Erich Schmeckenbecher.
Austrian-American Singer Martha Schlamme recorded it with Pete Seeger on Banjo:
Martha Schlamme/Pete Seeger-Wenn alle Brünnlein fließen
Seeger also did it in a concert in East Berlin, there is a nice video of his performance (including audience partizipation ;))
The songs lyrics are like this:
1. Wenn alle Brünnlein fließen, / so muss man trinken, / wenn ich mein Schatz nicht rufen darf, / tu ich ihm winken, / wenn ich mein Schatz nicht rufen darf, / ju ja, rufen darf, / tu ich ihm winken.
2. Ja, winken mit den Äugelein / und treten auf den Fuß! / 's ist eine in der Stube drin, / die meine werden muss, / 's ist eine in der Stube drin, / ju ja, Stube drin, / die meine werden muss.
3. Warum sollt sie's nicht werden, / ich hab sie ja so gern; / sie hat zwei braune Äugelein, / die leuchten wie zwei Stern', / sie hat zwei braune Äugelein, / ju ja, Äugelein, / die leuchten wie zwei Stern'.
4. Sie hat zwei rote Wängelein, / sind röter als der Wein; / ein solches Mädel find'st du nicht / wohl unterm Sonnenschein. / Ein solches Mädel find'st du nicht / ju ja, find'st du nicht, / wohl unterm Sonnenschein.
5. So herzlich wie mein Lieselein / ist keine auf der Welt, / vom Köpfchen bis zum Füßelein / ist alles wohl bestellt. / Vom Köpfchen bis zum Füßelein / ju ja, Füßelein, / ist alles wohl bestellt.
6. Ach herzger Schatz, ich bitte dich, / ach, lass mich gehen! / Denn deine Leut die schmähen mich, / ich muss mich schämen. / Denn deine Leut die schmähen mich, / ju ja, schmähen mich, / ich muss mich schämen.
7. Was frag ich nach den Leuten, / die mich tun schmähen? / Ich liebe ja ganz ewiglich / dies schöne Mädchen! / Ich liebe ja ganz ewiglich / ju ja, ewiglich / dies schöne Mädchen!
A rough English translation provided by deepl:
1. When all the fountains are flowing, / you have to drink, / if I'm not allowed to call my sweetheart / I'll wave at it, /
if I'm not allowed to call my sweetheart, l'll wave at it.
2. Ses, wave with the eyes / and step on the foot! / There's one in the parlor, / that must become mine, /
There's one in the parlor, in the parlor, / that must become mine.
3. Why shouldn't she be, / I like her so much, / she has two brown eyes, / that shine like two stars, /
she has two brown eyes, / that shine like two stars.
4. She has two red cheeks, / redder than the wine; / you won't find such a girl / under the sunshine. /
you won't find such a girl under the sunshine.
5. As hearty as my Lieselein / is none in the world, / from the head to the feet / everything is well ordered. /
From the little head to the little feet / ju ja, little feet / everything is well ordered.
6. Oh dear darling, I beg you, / oh, let me go! / For your people revile me, / I must be ashamed. /
For your people revile me, / yes, revile me, / I must be ashamed.
7. What do I ask of the people who revile me? / I love forever / this beautiful girl! / I love forever / yes, forever / this beautiful
The most prominent version was collected by German folklorist Hans Breuer in his book "Der Zupfgeigenhansl" in 1910, which features just the first four verses. The verses 5-7 are regional variants collected by the Bavarian folk art center of the states government.
Since Breuer was killed in action in world war 1 it's safe to assume that his version is in public domain now.
Thus I will add it as attachment to his post.
Thomas Fritz and Erich Schmeckenbecher founded the folk group "Zupfgeigenhansel" (obviouvsly a reference to Breuers collection) in the 1970s. They took several songs from Breuers and other folklorists songbooks. Sometimes (when the tune got lost) they made up their own tune or changed it to better fit their style. They also published song books with their versions. I also adopted their versions (they mainly changed the D7 chords to D, propably for the mandolin) but I'm not sure whether it's considered fair use or not. Thus I will upload it in a answer, so it can be removed if a moderator has obligations.
You can use any ionian tuning for Noter/Drone playing. The original key is G-major thus I use DGd-tuning on my Dulcimer and the G ionian tuning on my hummel. Up to now my playing is not fit for recording.
Have fun and best regards, Jost
Edit: Fixed some wrong chords.
That's a beauty. The bridge reminds me of bowed dulcimers or cellos. Maybe the builder was inspired by them?
I wish you big suchen with your move and building the dulcimer case.
The link leads to an "online casino", are you sure it's correct?