I'm trying to get more into playing old style drone & noter players with a quill and with a dulcimer that only has the fret under the melody string.
I have some DAA tabs in my books but they have a lot of tunes that still require you move to the middle and base strings.
Are their any tab books or resources devoted to this style of playing?
Hi Dave - Are you sure you want to venture into the dark side The resources for learning early style noter drone tend to be scattered and do take some searching out. You've had some great pointers already My advice would be:
1. Noter drone is playing is tough to get sounding 'musical' compared to modern chord melody DAd playing. Many pieces are held together by the melody so your phrasing and timing have to be spot on. Imagine switching from playing a guitar to playing a flute as a metaphor for switching style between chord melody and noter drone.
2. Your right hand is going to set the feel of the tune, so 'skill with a quill' is a where it is all at. Jean Ritchie's vertical quill style is a little hard to get hold of at first. Be flexible with your wrist and work off an in-strum lead stroke. The cut of the quill end has a BIG impact on tone, so experiment. You'll need lots of quills because they don't last. You'll be re-cutting the quill end every session you play. (I really should make a video about using vertical quills!!!!)
3. The thumb strum is a great and old technique for noter drone playing - good for slow tunes. Jean Ritchie used it just as much as she used a quill. It gives a very defined melody string sound.
4. Start with a simple wooden dowel about 3" long as a noter and practice different grips. Personally I use guided grips because of their accuracy. If you go to the old style noter drone players group page here on FOTMD you'll find links to additional pages on the right hand side under the title 'Group Pages'. There's a whole bunch of stuff there about using a noter.
5. Have an aim in mind. Christmas carols sound great in noter drone style so perhaps aiming to play a Christmas concert would be a good one to go for.
6. Using a single melody string can be easier than using a melody pair.
7. Start with DAA (a 1-5-5 tuning) as it is possibly the easiest starting point. I tune all over place but 1-5-5 is the tuning I use most.
8. If you want to Skype me so I can get you started I'd be happy to help. Your posts on ED about dulcimer history have been excellent so I'd like to give something back.