Tunes in the key of A major
General mountain dulcimer or music discussions
This is really long (and boring to a lot of people), but you might find it helpful.
Coming from a background of playing by ear on the piano, I like to just move my hands to a new starting place on the fretboard--as much as possible--rather than retuning or using a capo. The folks I play with in Tucson always play "Boil 'Em Cabbage Down" first through in D, then G, then A and then back to D again with nary a measure or a rest in between. Of course, that's a pretty simple tune, but it got me familiar with all 3 keys. Now I often play in A when I'm at a jam with a bunch of fiddlers or other people that want a tune played in a particular key.
If you're just playing 3 chords, the I chord (A) is barred at 444 or else played 44 6+ (I start with the bass string when I write the numbers and 6+ is 6 1/2.). You can play it higher up as 6+78. The octave is barred at 11.
The IV chord (D) is 457 or 757. Higher up, play it with 779.
The V chord (E) is 545 or 86+8, or barre it at 888. There's no G# when you barre at the 8th fret, but you can let your brain fill in "what's missing" here....the brain actually does that very well!
A scale of the I, IV, and V chords plays them in this order: I V I IV I IV V I . Try playing the three chords and singing up the scale...you'll see it harmonizes very nicely. (also try it in keys of D and in G)
To play a scale in the key of A going all the way up from Do to Do (an octave), you'd play:
444 545 446+ 457 6+78 779 86+8 11 11 11
I V I IV I IV V I
Do Re Mi Fa Sol La Ti Do
Notice that except for "Ti" the melody string plays do re mi right up the scale when you play the chords this way. "Ti" is played on the middle string.
Does this help? I mostly play by ear, so I'm not "classically trained" in any instrument, but this sounds pretty good to me.
My apologies if I wasn't supposed to capitalize Do Re Mi...
If the order of the I, IV, and V chords seems impossible to remember, it's a little easier when you realize that Do, Mi, Sol, Do are all I chords. Or, in scale degrees, that would be 1 5 8 1 or the interval a singer always seems to sing when they're warming up (at least in cartoons!).
The next thing that I think really stands out is that the V chords are played Before and After Do--at both ends of the octave. So you'd use a V chord if you're going up FROM Do, or up TO Do (the octave). And likewise, if you're going down FROM Do or down TO Do. If it's next to Do, play a V chord!!!
The others are IV chords. In my mind I think of the scale in three sections:
I V I IV I IV V I The I and V chords look kind of like bookends holding up 2 pairs of alternating books.
Hey! I'm a very visual person, too! I hope this hasn't all been lost in formatting glitches. If you want this sent as an email, just let me know!
Hope it helps! Jan Potts
updated by @jan-potts: 03/10/17 01:32:15AM