My voyage to the lute guitar (and mountain dulcimer as well)

jost
@jost
9 months ago
40 posts

To give you an impression of the sound I just uploaded my take on Greensleeves on lute guitar:
Greensleeves on lute guitar

The recording is quite rough and my playing has room for improvement but it should be sufficient to get an idea.

John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
11 months ago
277 posts

Wilkommen, Jost!  I don't speak much more Deutsch than that, though my last name is German (Knopf).

Your English is very good and quite understandable.  Danke for joining and sharing with us!

jost
@jost
11 months ago
40 posts

Hello Wilfried,

nice to see you here. I'm not just a big fan of your hummel videos but I remember now I saw your announcement of your master piece (lyra guitar) on the pin board of Musikschule Norden back in 2005. I was raised in Ostfriesland, but moved away for college and work 12 years ago.

Wilfried Ulrich:

Next instrument should be a Hummel !!!

btw.: My book "The Story of the Hummel" is still available !



I agree however I can't afford more instruments at the moment for lack of money and space in my appartment. The lack of money also means I can't move to a bigger appartment at the moment :)
This year I'l visit my parents during chrismast but not going anywhere else due to the pandemic situation. I plan another visist next summer though and will drop you a note then.

Best Regards, Jost.


updated by @jost: 12/06/20 03:41:59PM
Wilfried Ulrich
Wilfried Ulrich
@wilfried-ulrich
11 months ago
3 posts

The Dulcimer is a nice instrument. I began my instrument making with this instrument ! In 1976 there was a book by John Pearse how to make a fretboard-dulcimer. Just a fretboard to clamp on the table. The table should give the resonnance. But on the cover of the booklet there was a nice hourglass dulcimer. How to make those curved sides ??? With this a great adventure came to me which ended in my master proof as instrument maker in Markneukirchen in 2005. I am still busy!

The first Dulcimers were built in USA around 1830. The history of the Hummel goes back to the 1500s. The sound of the drones was very impressive for people of the lower classes. It was easy to beginn with one finger on the fretboard witout confusing halftones ! The drones gave the nessecary ground for the melody. The luthe was an instrument for the noble man. As there were many people at the lower classes there were also many instruments like the hummel. In the small town Neukirch in Saxonie it is said that there was a Hummel nearly in each house and they had built the instruments by themselves.  That´s what they did in the valleys of Appalachian Mountains with the Dulcimer. Building a simple instrument by themselves. They had the accompaniment with the drones too.

Next instrument should be a Hummel !!!

best regards

Wilfried

btw.: My book "The Story of the Hummel" is still available !

jost
@jost
11 months ago
40 posts

Nathina:


Nice Dulcimer. The rosette on the lute is lovely. I guess when you are talking about being a simpler to play lute you are comparing it to the Irish lute?




Well technically  many instruments are lutes (even guitars), to quote wikipedia:
"A lute ( / lj t / [1] or / l t / ) is any plucked string instrument with a neck and a deep round back enclosing a hollow cavity, usually with a sound hole or opening in the body. It may be either fretted or unfretted.


More specifically, the term "lute" can refer to an instrument from the family of European lutes . The term also refers generally to any string instrument having the strings running in a plane parallel to the sound table (in the Hornbostel–Sachs system)." ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lute )


Actually I talked about  the  baroque lutes like in this video of Focus guitarist Jan Akkerman playing Dowlands Fantasia on it It look's a lot like the one on the album cover of Ronn McFarlane.


It was developed from the arabian oud,  youtube has a video of a player doing a cover of a russian folk tune on an oud , also covered by Pete Seeger on banjo.

You can see in both videos, that these instruments used double courses instead of single strings. I freak out every time I see Akkerman doing his delicate picking on the double courses.

Richard Streib:


Thanks for  your post @jost. Again welcome to the forum. We'll help you along all we can.




Thanks Richard. I'm happy to be here.


updated by @jost: 12/05/20 08:14:01PM
Richard Streib
Richard Streib
@richard-streib
11 months ago
169 posts

Thanks for  your post @jost. Again welcome to the forum. We'll help you along all we can.

Nathina
Nathina
@nathina
11 months ago
188 posts

Nice Dulcimer. The rosette on the lute is lovely. I guess when you are talking about being a simpler to play lute you are comparing it to the Irish lute?

jost
@jost
11 months ago
40 posts

Hello everybody,

in this post I will talk how I got to learn my main instrument, what's special about it and how doing it actually led to purchasing my mountain dulcimer too.
It's a kind of a long read so I can't blame you if you are dropping out right now or later smiler
As you can see in my profile I'm from Germany so English isn't my first language. I'm not very good in it, so I'm happy about any feedback If something sounds odd or just incomprehensible.

I used to learn guitar during my teenhood years. I had a quite good Ibanez classical guitar (used from my mother during her times as volunteer for church youth work) and good teacher, but lacked practice. I think I never practiced more than one hour a week and as soon I know a song I would take another one, forgetting the old one. I'm  feeling sorry for my teacher now to be honest and appreciate that he was always a kind, nice and patient man.

When I moved out to go to college the guitar stayed at my parents  home and I never bothered to continue. That was more than ten years ago.

This year during the first lockdown I got kind of bored so I thought about learning guitar again, this time with a instruction book and an own instrument. Thus I went to a local store, got a student classical guitar and started. Since this time I actually practiced (comparing my play to the CD/DVD from the book) it worked somehow. I'm still not a very good player, but my neighbours are not complaining so I think it's bearable whistle

However somehow I encountered a strange instrument, the so called  lute guitar (also called German Lute or Bastard lute) in some youtube videos.  It looks like a lute, but it's played like a guitar. And it has a quite unique sound, as can be heard t his medley a youtuber uploaded some years ago.

I quickly learned (some nice guy from Germanys musiker-board.de forum with nom de guerre "El lute" wrote a whole essay about it's history, how to get one and how to repair old ones) that it's actually not very old but a quite modern instrument, bending elements of guitar and mandora. The first lute-guitars first were actually built in the 1850's.

It was quite popular in the German youth movement Wandervogel at the beginning of the 20th century for it's look (just like a old lute) and sound (not quite lute, not quite guitar, something between).

It's easier to play than a real lute (since it lacks double courses),  much cheaper and louder than classical lutes (they were mainly for chamber or court music). Since the Wandervögel did a kind of early medivial reenactment (like todays Renaissance fairs)  they actually didn't realy recreate the medival age but their own version of) and thought of themselves as traveling scholars (like medivial students) for their love of camping, wandering around and collecting and singing old German folklore, this combination greatly appealed to them. A part of their song collections also included a lot of soldier songs, thus when world war one started they saw it just another kind of adventure, volunteered,  taking their guitars, lute-guitars and songbook Zupfgeigenhansel with them ( called "Der Zupfgeigenhansl" ). Many fell, including the editor of the Zupfgeigenhansel.

Although I have no interest in going to war any time soon I also got hooked by the look and sound of the instrument. However according to el lutes essay getting an used instrument via ebay can end with  a lot of trouble or loss of money, since it propably needs some work. Either by the buyer (if he is good in woodworking or from a luthier).  
This was out of question, I was never good in woodwork and I didn't wanted to buy a used instrument and pay even more money to get it working.
In the essay el lute recommended to go to an luthier for getting a playable used (the ones from the former GDR are surprising cheap since they are not so antique, but often actually more playable then the older from Wandervogel times) or commission a custom built.
Again: Out of question for lack of money and patience (you need to wait until some affordable appears in the online offers of luthiers)..
However: As a kind of compromise there are also new ones from companys, although el lute thought of them not so high "They are ok  for beginners, but if you want a good instrument you will need to go to a luthier" (roughly translated by myself)
I can  unterstand his point of view (he repaired  around 10 of older instruments including a beautiful ones with additional bass strings for drone sounds, these Basslauten used to be quite common but were never so popular like normal lute guitars. Some spanish (?) guy did  a nice video featuring one ). but since actually I'm still a starter in playing  I decided that one of these "beginner instruments"  should to.

In the end I bought  one from the German music store Folkfriends and I'm quite happy with it. The wooden head in my avatar is actually a part of the instrument. Here a full view:
lautefotm.jpg
I love the sound and look of it. And it's true: If you can play guitar, you can play lute guitar too after getting used to the lute corpus. I'm still struggling with holding it so I got myself a leather strap which fit's well with the pseudohistorical look of it happys

So I think I will have a lot of fun with it, as long as I don't do two things:
1. Using picks since (like classical guitars), it lacks a pickboard
2. Using steelstrings (again same like classical guitar). I kind of cringed when I read a review of my model at the store before buying it. A  LARP-roleplayer replaced the strings with steel strings and wrote something like "It's a great instrument, but has some damages. But that's ok I'm quite rough"  Poor little thing sadsmile

Since I mostly try to learn folk tunes (mainly Irish and british folk but some american too) I look a lot of youtube videos. Somehow I encountered Jean Ritchies version of Nottamun Town and loved the drone sounds. I learnt, that she played a so called mountain dulcimer. I also learnt, that this instrument had it's origin in older ones, even one used to played in Northern Germany (Hummel). I was hooked by the drone sounds , even more when I saw more videos ( my favourite so far is a rendition of a poem by German poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe on a hummel ).
Now the question was how to get one? I didn't wanted one cheap for 80 Euro (since I guessed that it propably woudn't be good in a long term).
I found a  forum thread, where somebody  recommended building one in a building workshop of Bavarian luthier André Schuberth. It turned out, that Schuberts workshops are on hiatus due to Corona, but that he offers prebuild versions of his workshop kits. So I commisioned one, he said it would propably take to new year. Fine with me, a nice late christmas present.
So I was kind of thrilled, when this monday  I got a mail from Mr Schuberths wife, that my instrument is ready and she just sent out the delivery package.

You can understand how happy I was when it arrived yesterday and I opened the package:
dulcimer.jpg
So now the hardest (but most fun) part begins: Learning how to play the dulcimer in noter/drone style. The instrument came tuned to DAAA tuning, I changed it to CGGG according to Jean Ritchies Dulcimer book.  

I'm happy to be part of this community (got some welcomes on my profile already, thanks guys!) and looking forward to learn from.

Thanks for bearing my babbling, have a nice day smiler