Bowing a dulcimer

Strumelia
@strumelia
6 years ago
1,866 posts
I'd love to see you doing that too!


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
921 posts
Wow! I'd love to see (and hear!) you play, Mike!


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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
921 posts

Mike,

I'm curious about how you hold the dulcimer when bowing. Do you use a fiddle bow? Are you playing both fast and slow tunes?

I really like the sound of a mountain dulcimer that is bowed!




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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
921 posts
Mike, the way you're holding it makes more sense to me (than with the fingers in the grooves).


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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
921 posts
Nope. Smile.gif


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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
921 posts
I'd like to give one of those a try sometime, Mike, to hear how it sounds. With my coordination, though, I'm afraid it'd be like trying to pat my head and rub my stomach at the same time. Grin.gif


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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
6 years ago
921 posts

Mike,

If you have any photos of your bow or sound clips of you playing, I'd love to see them.




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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
8 years ago
921 posts
Anybody bow in the fashion of Leah Smith, as seen in Jean Ritchie's THE DULCIMER BOOK, with the dulcimer propped on a table at its waist and the tail of the instrument on her lap? (10) In Gerry Milnes's PLAY OF A FIDDLE, he relates that Samuel Johnson was said to have played hymns with a bow, the dulcimer's headstock propped on a window sill. (139)Bowing a lap dulcimer and getting good sound is not easy. I do love the other-worldly sound got from a lap dulcimer being bowed.


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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Strumelia
@strumelia
8 years ago
1,866 posts
Richard Graham said:
Anyone remember those round back guitar from the 70's? They fell out of your lap like a drunken cheerleader at a frat party!
Berimbau
I don't know about guitars, but....The old european bowl back mandolins fell out of favor in America once mandolins began to be used in american style stringbands around 1920 and on. As I myself have found, they are very difficult to hold still against your stomach or chest while standing to play, as in a stringband setting on a stage. They slide and tilt too much because of the round back, not that they fall (since they have a shoulder strap). Sitting with one in your lap was not as much of a problem.European dulcimer ancestors were more often played on a table. Americans seem to have developed a preference for playing the early american dulcimers in their laps. I have equal difficulty keeping hourglass, teardrop, and galax eliptical dulcimers on my lap while playing fast fiddle tunes- I need a strap. The 'balance' effect of mirrored bouts doesn't seem do a thing for me to keep the instrument stable on my lap to play, i'm afraid. I seldom strum in the strum hollow- I find further up to give the best 'bounce' and tone. Usually about at the halfway point between the bridge and wherever I am currently fretting. I do the same with banjo.Now having the fretboard in the middle of the instrument might indeed make it easier to play on the lap. It would also make it easier to bow I'd think, though weren't some of the european ancestors/relatives bowed on a table, such as the Langeliks?It will be interesting to me to see how this works itself out when I get my 'traditional' style epinette des vosges next Spring. I'll report back here if I can remember. :)


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
@strumelia
8 years ago
1,866 posts
Richard Graham said:
Again it's far easier to strum a faster tune on an Appalachian dulcimer than it would be on a sheitholdt or other earlier zither form Berimbau
Hi Berimbau,Can you explain why you feel this is so?thanks!


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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
razyn
@razyn
8 years ago
113 posts
Richard Graham said:... the bridges on most older dulcimers do not easily lend themselves to good bowing technique. Besides, the fiddle was already present throughout Appalachia, and was in fact already the premiere instrument of the region.I was mostly alluding to earlier forms of the dulcimer -- zitters and such -- that seem to have been used more for hymn singing than for hoedowns; and more by German-American radical sectarians than by either Anglo-Americans, or more mainstream Protestants of any ethnicity. There was some documentation of that tradition just as it was fading from the scene, perhaps about as late as WWI, but mostly in the 19th century. What little we have about it in the written record has been reviewed on various ED threads, especially by Greg Gunner (Banjimer, there).But even the links with German pietists, Mennonites etc. may be more apparent than real; the people who saw fit to write on this obscure topic (the bowing of diatonic zithers) were after all in Pennsylvania, and surrounded by those folks. If Henry Mercer had collected in the vicinity of Burkesville, KY or Red Boiling Springs, TN around 1910, he might have found Scotch-Irish hillbillies bowing dulcimers. And btw calling them Frog fiddles.Anyway, it was done here and there, in Appalachia and elsewhere, a few generations before Ken Bloom was on the scene. The need perceived by violinists and their sympathizers for "good bowing technique" is fairly irrelevant, if one is using a slack, homemade bow -- and letting one's drones be drones. So the flat bridge is OK, really. On an old TMB, it's built-in (the "bridge" is a piece of sheet metal bent over a nail, as is the nut). That didn't keep people from bowing a TMB.That's not quite the same as bowing a psalmodikon -- an instrument that normally has one string, and frets at every semitone (though it may also come with a set of diatonic transposing sticks, painted with the gapped scales for playing in several different modes). With one string, the top of the bridge can be flat, arched, concave, or whatever.Dick
razyn
@razyn
8 years ago
113 posts
razyn said:Psalmodikons were also bowed, and still areHere's a clip of that (in Sweden, I think):http://www.stthuset.com/tidning/film/viavinga/psalmdiakon/index.htmI can read Swedish, but this clip is just a link -- and there's no caption, that I could see, telling where the group is playing. Some of the members of this organization are in Norway.Dick
razyn
@razyn
8 years ago
113 posts
Diane said:There are less than 100 of those floating around the US... Most of them seem to be below the Mason Dixon lineI just looked at the "About Ken" page on http://www.boweddulcimer.com/ and found this:"He has presented these programs at National battlefields, Living History sites, Highland Games, and schools all over North and South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky."Seems to be a correlation between seeing Ken Bloom and owning, or playing, a bowed dulcimer.I think there may be a great many more old dulcimers floating around that have been bowed, but not lately -- and we just don't know it.Those who bowed them a little deeper in the past than 1972 were not necessarily also violinists, or cellists; some bowed them noter-and-drone style, and some leaned them on a table with the head away from the seated player.Psalmodikons were also bowed, and still are -- mostly well to the north of the Mason-Dixon line, because that's where most of the Nordic population settled.http://www.psalmodikon.com/AnnualMeeting.htmlJust a little grist for the mill.Dick
Lee Byrne
@lee-byrne
8 years ago
1 posts
Hi, Robin. I just signed up. Really nice site here, isn't it?Diane, I hope you fall in love with the bowed dulcimer. I have one of Ken Bloom's small ones, a Pardessus, strung like a violin. I'm also a beginner/intermediate level violin player. What I like about the Pardessus is that it has FRETs. My intonation on the violin really suffers from lack of frets (among other excuses). Please keep us informed about your interest in the BD.Lee
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
8 years ago
921 posts
Hey, Diane, I hope you get the chance to bow a dulcimer this weekend! If you already fiddle and have some experience on cello, you'll take to a bowed dulcimer right away.Let me know, please, "if the stars align properly." ; )


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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
8 years ago
921 posts
Anybody here who bows a mountain dulcimer?Anybody here who has a dulcimer built especially to be bowed?I have a Ken Bloom bowed dulcimer and enjoy learning to play it. :-) Before I got my bowed dulcimer, though, I was holding a mountain dulcimer the way one holds a bowed dulcimer (upright, with bout steadied at the knees) and bowing it. Through time, folks who have bowed mountain dulcimers have held them in who knows how many different ways? Or, if set on a table, didn't hold them at all.So, one and all, I'm curious to learn of the adventures of others with bowing a dulcimer of any kind. . .


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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!

updated by @robin-thompson: 01/13/16 06:24:06PM