what was your first song on the dulcimer?
I remember it well------my wife and I were walking through "Heritage Village" in Largo Florida shortly after we moved there in 1991 and saw a lady playing an instrument that we had never seen. She told us all about her mountain dulcimer and said she was going to be giving some lessons, so with my vast musical knowledge (absolutely none) I said why not. I bought a cardboard dulcimer kit, assembled it and started out with "Boil them cabbage down" which started out my wonderful journey with the dulcimer. Many thanks to Camille Hospadaruk for her patience in teaching me and to my poor wife that had to listen to all my mistakes.
I missed this thread too, Ken.
The book I had 40 years ago was Jean Ritchie's Dulcimer book. I suspect my first tune was Go Tell Aunt Rhodie as well, since it would have been one of the few tunes in that book which I knew. The other would have been Barbara Allen.
Twinkle twinkle little Star;
Then: Aunt Rhodie;
Then: Boil them Cabbage down.
I can vividly remember yelling for my wife to cone on the porch and listen.
Boil Them Cabbage is still my most requested song at the Assisted Living Homes, where I play every week. Some of the super seniors just can't get enough of it. Some know all the words to all the verses.
Great great song.
Jesus Loves Me, was probably my 4th song.
Most life changing song was learning, Wildwood Flower.
I can't really remember the first song I ever played on the dulcimer, but I can remember the first song I heard anyone play/sing live on the dulcimer (about 22 years ago now)... it was a guy playing a dulcimer and singing Hang me O Hang Me (I been All Around this World) . It totally blew me away (the dulcimer instrument, not the song) and at that moment I simply HAD to get myself a dulcimer and learn to play it. I was completely in love with the mountain dulcimer from the first moment I saw and heard it played in person. Ironically, I don't think I ever felt compelled to play that particular song, even though it sounded great when that fellow did it.
Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Unfortunately I left my copy at home after I went off to university and in the fulness of time they binned it along with everything else I'd left there. Including the stave dulcimer. At least I took my proper dulcimer with me...
updated by @john-tose: 06/30/15 12:49:12PM
I rate the shortish 'Play' section of that book as one of the best absolute beginner scripts I have ever come across, simple and uncluttered, with some very useful illustrations.
I still have a copy of that somewhere.
Didn't get hold of it until a year or two after I got my first dulcimer. It was my first introduction to all this mode stuff
I found it all very simple and easy to follow.
I've been buying John Pearse dulcimers for years and have had about 5 through my hands since. Great little things, I love 'em.
Well i've been wondering what the first tune I ever played was and now you've answered it for me. I watched that TV series and made myself a `stave' dulcimer just like they said. And bought the book. Now you've jogged my memory i remember playing Au Claire de Lune from it. So that's it.
John Henry said:
Even tho' it was a very long time ago I have no trouble 'naming that tune'. It was "AU CLAIR DE LUNE" ! How can I be so precise ? 'Cos I'm looking at the book I learnt it from, "Make and Play the Dulcimer" by John Pearse (copyright 1970) Ignoring the 'Make' content, I rate the shortish 'Play' section of that book as one of the best absolute beginner scripts I have ever come across, simple and uncluttered, with some very useful illustrations. Must admit to some bias here tho', the book has sections on using a 'noter', and 'feathering' four ways, no less , including 'beating' (as you see, I have been playing on the 'dark side' for a very long time, lol) The availability of the book coincided with a weekly TV series "How To Make and Play The Dulcimer", and the emergence of a Folk/Rock Group named 'SteelEye Span', which included one 'Tim Hart', who sometimes played ..........Mountain Dulcimer !
When I first received my first dulcimer, a David Lynch Student Model, I strummed a crude, but recognizable version of "Sweet Hour of Prayer." I was like a kid in a candy shop--so thrilled! After only a coupla months, my playing is still bumpy and crude, but I'm having more fun than a 72 year old should be allowed!
Initially I learned a few simple tunes all around the same time. They were "Boil Them Cabbage Down", "Mairi's Wedding", "The Southwind" and "Rosin the Beau/Bow". I believe the one I actually learned first was "Mairi's Wedding", but it might have been "Boil Them Cabbage Down". In one sense it seems like so long ago, and yet in another it feels like yesterday. :)
Even tho' it was a very long time ago I have no trouble 'naming that tune'. It was "AU CLAIR DE LUNE" ! How can I be so precise ? 'Cos I'm looking at the book I learnt it from, "Make and Play the Dulcimer" by John Pearse (copyright 1970) Ignoring the 'Make' content, I rate the shortish 'Play' section of that book as one of the best absolute beginner scripts I have ever come across, simple and uncluttered, with some very useful illustrations. Must admit to some bias here tho', the book has sections on using a 'noter', and 'feathering'four ways, no less , including 'beating' (as you see, I have been playing on the 'dark side' for a very long time, lol) The availability of the book coincided with a weekly TV series "How To Make and Play The Dulcimer", and the emergence of a Folk/Rock Group named 'SteelEye Span', which included one 'Tim Hart', who sometimes played ..........Mountain Dulcimer !
My first song was Rosin the Beau, which I learned from the Bing Futch video on YouTube . I became obsessed with the dulcimer about 4 months before actually buying one, and over those four months I watched that video so much that when I finally got my dulcimer, I pulled over to the side of the road, and played about half of that tune from memory. By the end of the day I had the rest of the tune as well. Oh, my playing wasn't that great, but it was a nice start!
Dusty T., Northern California
As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Lord Lovel and Shady Grove from Larkin Bryant's book. One fingerpicked, one strummed, both in different tunings...and as I told people before, I felt fulfilled and just played those 2 songs for almost 10 years and had never seen or heard another dulcimer player in that time.
It would have been one of 'Red River Valley' , 'You are my Sunshine' , 'Good bye Girls I'm Going to Boston' or Bonepart Crossing the Rhine'. Probably Red River Valley.
These were the first few tunes I was taught and they got played to death until the fateful day when I was playing GBGIGTB and it morphed into 'The Dorset Four Hand Reel'. That was when I discovered I could play by ear and didn't need to remember fret orders or anything like that. There was no stopping after that and suddenly I could play hundreds of tunes.
Thinking back to those days(early 70s) a couple of songs I remember as very popular were 'Willie Moore' and 'Pretty Polly', neither seems to get much of a mention nowadays.
Thought it would be a nice thread idea for people to share about what there first song was on the dulcimer, and maybe any back story or how it came to be.
Mine was Wildwood Flower. I'd been playing autoharp and guitar the local dulcimer club, and there was a Thursday night session where it was just me and the lady that ran it. We were doing some tunes, and we started playing Wildwood Flower. I looked at her, and said, Diane, can you show me how to play that on the dulcimer? So line by line, I was shown on her dulcimer how to play Wildwood Flower. Diane favored DAA, so I was first shown Wildwood Flower out of DAA. After a while, I relearned it in DAd and then never could play it out Ionian tuning to save my life. Even now, on my 3 string Clark model dulcimer from Dan Cox that is tuned bagpipe Ccc, I play it from the open fret using DAd tab. My eventual goal is to relearn it out of Ionian, and usually I can do the first two lines just fine, but the third is where things start going south for me It is on my dulcimer bucket list to do, so we'll see.
updated by @james-phillips: 03/21/20 06:01:17PM