General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
I found this group after a few days of looking around the web for dulcimer stuff and practicing mine after taking it up again after - well, a few years, really. Nine years ago I went to a yard sale and saw a cardboard-bodied dulcimer (the label on it says Double Eagle, Arkansas). I forget how much they were selling it for but it wasn't very much. I had seen one many years before, when someone came to my school and demonstrated folk instruments. So I bought it.
Well, I soon found out that my dulcimer had some peculiarities: mainly, a tendency to break strings. I went through several replacement strings trying to tune it right, and then I noticed that the pin for the melody strings was pulling up and not letting the string keep its tune. So the poor old thing sat unused for years until recently I got it out again, replaced the pin, got new strings, broke a few, and realized that as long as I tune it 1-5-5 or 1-5-4 it'll be fine. Currently I've got it tuned to GDD, which seems to be about as much tension as it can take. It works for me. I like the "Ionian" tuning and starting the scale on the 3rd fret, even though this one does have the extra 6th. I also really really like the "Dorian" tuning - I love Dorian mode.
After fixing it up and looking at the book that it came with (Albert Gamse's Best Dulcimer Method Yet) I found Jean Ritchie's 1964 instructional record and when she started strumming and singing I felt like my soul was being welcomed back to a home it had lost. I've been picking out hymn tunes and Christmas songs for the past couple of weeks; recently I started picking out some tunes that I've come up with on my own. I'm excited about using it for composition and integrating it into playing in groups.
About groups: I started playing drums in 1994 and have played kit in several bands. Recently I've joined an odd little acoustic jam band with anachronistic aspirations, playing frame drum and tambourine, and I want to work the dulcimer into it too. I see a lot of possibilities - I particularly like Jessica Comeau's arrangements of medieval tunes. I'm interested in learning to do chords and I'm playing around with them, but I like doing the drone style too. I like strumming with a feather.
One of these days I'll get myself a good instrument; I'm also gonna get a strumstick.
I'm glad to find this site, I've been enjoying the recordings and pictures and discussions so far!
updated by @studentofrhythm: 12/01/21 11:16:55PM