Wandering in and Figuring it All Out - Six months a player

Ellen Rice
Ellen Rice
@ellen-rice
10 years ago
49 posts

Oh, yeah! Thanks for the link. Some of us need all the help we can get . . .

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
10 years ago
1,737 posts

Wait, we switched from cassettes to CDs? When?

CDs are already obsolete now since everything is just 1s and 0s.

If you want to see a demonstration of how to use a capo, check out this Bing Futch video:

. He teaches the fiddle tune "Hangman's Reel" and then shows how you can play it in the key of G with a capo at the third fret or A with a capo at the 4th fret. And if you listen to the music playing over the closing credits, you will hear a "spooky" minor version of the song which he gets by playing it in Em with the capo at the first fret.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Ellen Rice
Ellen Rice
@ellen-rice
10 years ago
49 posts

I have to confess that I now own a capo -- but have been a bit terrified to open the bag and actually use it. I felt the same way when we switched from cassette tapes to CD's. Those silvery discs looked so . . . alien.

marg
@marg
10 years ago
616 posts

Fog or no Fog, sounds like you have figure somethings out and crossed a few bridges. Nice going.

Ellen Rice
Ellen Rice
@ellen-rice
10 years ago
49 posts

I'm posting to boost this up for Beth S.

Grin.gif

Ellen Rice
Ellen Rice
@ellen-rice
11 years ago
49 posts

Glad to share a giggle - Doesn't "Mixolydian" sound like an expert bartender?

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
11 years ago
400 posts

This is great! Even with the little knowledge of the dulcimer that my husband has, he laughed and laughed as I read this to him. You've got those speeds defined just right!




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
11 years ago
400 posts

Oh my! Thanks for the big chuckle in the middle of the night! I could relate to so much of this!

Hope you continue to enjoy your dulcimer over the holidays and on into 2014!Smile.gif




--
Jan Potts, Lexington, KY
Site Moderator

"Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best." Henry Van Dyke
Ellen Rice
Ellen Rice
@ellen-rice
11 years ago
49 posts

Maybe there's a reason that Appalachia's other export is moonshine . . .

john p
john p
@john-p
11 years ago
173 posts

Had a good laugh there Ellen Smile.gif

Picks are only good up to a point ... time comes when only a shovel will do.

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
11 years ago
1,436 posts
Golly, Ellen, I'd say you've got it figured pretty well!
Thanks for the fun!PS- What are capos, really, anyway? I mean, is there a capo tree or bush? And I never heard of anybody having a capo farm when I grew up in farm country in central Ohio. :)
Ellen Rice
Ellen Rice
@ellen-rice
11 years ago
49 posts

Good morning Ken and friends,

I did read Ken's article early on and it was a big help. Part of my early challenges boiled down to buying a sweet traditional instrument (tuned Cggg and no 6.5 fret) and buying a modern beginners book that instructed in Dadd and assumed a 6.5 fret. Anyone knowledgeable with even basic dulcimer life could have pointed out a path forward -- but there I was, middle of the afternoon in the middle of nowhere with an instrument on my lap and a book on the table, thinking (and hearing) "Something's weird here".

Thank goodness for Fisherman's/Cowboy Humor (and pride) -- that kept me from putting "the easiest instrument to play" into the closet. After that day, the giggles just keep coming. That's how I know a diode is a pair of long poems . . .


Ken Hulme said:

You really don't need a bunch of "middle C stuff" and music theory to tune and play the dulcimer. Especially these days with audio examples to tune your instrument to.

Lisa has an excellent audio "how to tune" at the top of the Beginner Group page --

http://mountaindulcimer.ning.com/group/beginnerplayers

If you want to start out simply and build your skills, you can play melodies on the melody string and let the other strings just drone along as was done traditionally.

You may want to check out the article I wrote called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding of your dulcimer.

The article is here:

http://mountaindulcimer.ning.com/profiles/blogs/i-just-got-a-dulcim...

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty
11 years ago
1,737 posts

That's all too funny. 24.gif You can tune a piano but you can't tunafish.

And don't forget about all the different kinds of dulcimers there are: mountain dulcimers, lap dulcimers, fretted dulcimers, etc. Most of us just want to find one instrument we can play OK. And what in the world is an Indian walking cane and what does it have to do with dulcimers?

Notice the picking comes first. Then the jamming. You have to get the berries off the vine before you can cook 'em up with sugar.

Ellen, when we're done laughing at your humor, some of us will take off our fingerpicks (the ones that aren't flat) and type answers to any real questions you have. But if you just want to keep making us laugh, we're OK with that, too.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11 years ago
2,128 posts

You really don't need a bunch of "middle C stuff" and music theory to tune and play the dulcimer. Especially these days with audio examples to tune your instrument to.

Lisa has an excellent audio "how to tune" at the top of the Beginner Group page --

http://mountaindulcimer.ning.com/group/beginnerplayers

If you want to start out simply and build your skills, you can play melodies on the melody string and let the other strings just drone along as was done traditionally.

You may want to check out the article I wrote called I Just Got A Dulcimer, Now What? It's an illustrated glossary of dulcimer terms plus answers to many beginner questions about tuning, playing, care and feeding of your dulcimer.

The article is here:

http://mountaindulcimer.ning.com/profiles/blogs/i-just-got-a-dulcimer-now-what

John Keane
John Keane
@john-keane
11 years ago
182 posts

That is great! Grin.gif

Ellen Rice
Ellen Rice
@ellen-rice
11 years ago
49 posts

Oh, I've done comedy and I've done tragedy (I was a Cub Scout Den LeaderGrin.gif ). I am actually enjoying my instrument immensely -- but it is a new world, for sure.

Frank Ross said:

nice hopefully you meant it to be funny - have you ever though of going into comedy? I spent 42 years in the IT field working with engineers, scientists, accountants and office workers - they all seemed as confused at the nomenclature I used as I was of theirs. Amazing how many professions and hobbies have their own language that sounds foreign to the other person. I've only been messing with the dulcimer for 3 months and am waiting for the grandkids to come for Christmas to get a crash course in the middle C stuff and other music theory concepts. Go for the 72% dark chocolate from Trader Joe's - Super Yum -I stock up when I visit the big cities

Frank Ross
Frank Ross
@frank-ross
11 years ago
32 posts

nice hopefully you meant it to be funny - have you ever though of going into comedy? I spent 42 years in the IT field working with engineers, scientists, accountants and office workers - they all seemed as confused at the nomenclature I used as I was of theirs. Amazing how many professions and hobbies have their own language that sounds foreign to the other person. I've only been messing with the dulcimer for 3 months and am waiting for the grandkids to come for Christmas to get a crash course in the middle C stuff and other music theory concepts. Go for the 72% dark chocolate from Trader Joe's - Super Yum -I stock up when I visit the big cities

Linda
Linda
@linda
11 years ago
11 posts

Dark chocolate and raspberry!!!!!! I am all over THAT!

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11 years ago
2,128 posts

Make us a list of your clueless bits, and we'll cut them down to size. I strongly recommend 80% Dark Chocolate combined with Orange, Raspberry or Mint for maximum health benefits...

Ellen Rice
Ellen Rice
@ellen-rice
11 years ago
49 posts

Hi All,

Glad you're giggling -- I am actually deeply grateful for the online instruction available. There's an amazing amount and its shared with great generosity -- you can tell the hours of work that stand behind it. But I am still clueless on so many fronts.

Maybe chocolate will help. I understand it is full of healthy compounds. Must research throughly . ..

Linda
Linda
@linda
11 years ago
11 posts

Oh my! You had us laughing with tears in our eyes! All that jam and fudge!

folkfan
@folkfan
11 years ago
357 posts

Sounds like your journey has been a hoot so far. I hope you keep enjoying it and sharing your joy in it for many years.

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
11 years ago
1,107 posts

Ellen, LOL! I enjoyed reading about your dulcimer journey. It brought back fond memories. Thanks for sharing. And Happy Holidays to you also!

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Lois Sprengnether Keel
Lois Sprengnether Keel
@lois-sprengnether-keel
11 years ago
197 posts

Loved this, Ellen! So funny but with a lot of truth, especially that part about speed of playing.

LoiS(low pieces a specialty...even if the rest of the world plays them faster)

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
11 years ago
2,128 posts

Tell us what you really think, EllenGrin.gif 24.gif

This is the place to get those frustrations taken care of. Guys in videos can't answer questions. We can. Some of the folks here may have written the book you're getting confused in, but heck they'll still talk to you and help you get it right. Dulcimer is a universe of things, not necessarily simple. Yes Many of us could sit you down and get you playing a couple songs in an hour (as long as you don't have to take off any shoes to count to ten!). It takes a bit longer when we have to write and interpret things.

Ask and ye shall be answered. If the answers are confusing, ask again...

Ellen Rice
Ellen Rice
@ellen-rice
11 years ago
49 posts

Grin.gif Grin.gif Grin.gif

We begin in a fog

For starters, for someone who has no real music background, Middle C is as mysterious as Middle Earth. So one pings a string, reads the tuner and says guess it needs to go up to C and then to D. SPRONG. Oops. Wrong C.

And the way to fix this? No one says download a tuning app and Middle C = 261.6 Hertz. Nope, this is a hardcore McGyver crowd that does things the adventuresome way. Tuning is a scavenger hunt. First, its Find a piano, then See those 88 keys? . . .

Then theres an inversion

Any dulcimer book labels the strings from the bass string down. If something is labeled Dadd, youd think that big D would be a big deal. But turn the page to the first tune. See those numbers on the line for the noter? By gum, we start with the melody strings as the important ones.

And theres that French stuff

The chap on the instructional video says were going to be playing Gallic style, only he seems to spell it with an X. That dulcimer hes holding has lost her waistline! Well, after two kids and a Thanksgiving dinner, I can relate to the dilemma. But wait. OMG! Hes playing with a feather . Nobody told me thered be turkey farming as part of this music making. Oh, wait, he says I can strum with a pick.

That leads us to Flatpicking

Pretty quick a video or book says something like, Heres a tune for flatpicking. Sorry, honey. But all picks are flat. Ive got one that looks like a sharks tooth with bumpy edges and another thats curved on one side but they are both flat as can be. But thats not nearly as confusing as . . .

Frets

The dulcimer world is full of nice but very odd people. Ive lived with babies. The less fretting, the better, in my book. But Dulcimer World likes lots of fretting. And its something special if its colorful, because then its chromatic, just like Kodachrome film used to be.

And Tons of sugar

Dulcimer people do a lot of Jamming. And Fudging. Sometimes they Jam and Fudge at the same time. I sure hope folks are flossing, because thats a lot of sugar.

Dont Get Fresh with me

Then theres those on a special forum discussing their Vibrating String Lengths. I kid you not. Add in a bottle of Chianti and Ill bet thats how that French girl lost her waistline. I didnt fall off the turnip truck this morning you know. And Im smart enough to know about:

Capos

At first I thought this was those green salty things that get listed in magazine recipes. But thinking about it a moment, I realized it stands for Calcium. Ca+ or "Ca positive". Thats because you need lots of calcium to have strong finger bones for all that fretting. When it says Capo at 1, then that tells you take the calcium right after lunch.

But things do get mislabeled .

The video instructor says hes going to play the song slow, medium and then fast. These are not the correct names for what is shown. Heres the proper translation:

Slow = If you work really hard you might be able to keep up

Medium = NASCAR version

Fast = Intergalactic Warp 10. This is the version featuring space aliens with twice the fingers of humans.

Sooner or later Im going to figure out which river those bridges are for.

Until then, Happy Holidays!


updated by @ellen-rice: 08/03/23 02:07:32PM