What Are You Working On?

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
3 weeks ago
440 posts

I'm working on composing a song--with verses and all that, something I rarely do.  It's a "work in progress" and right now it's not going much of anywhere, but I keep coming back to it.




--
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
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
4 weeks ago
1,024 posts

I'm arranging a version of the O'Carolan tune "Planxty Hewlett."  I can't always "hear" O'Carolan melodies, but I think I get this one.  I'm almost done with a version down low on the fretboard, never going above the 4th fret.  Once I see how that works I'll work on another version an octave higher.




--
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
John C. Knopf
John C. Knopf
@john-c-knopf
3 months ago
216 posts

That zitter-critter's lookin' right perty, Ken H.!  

As fer ME, gotta get back to puttin' a cherry 'n' maple Galax together.

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
3 months ago
976 posts

Yay, y'all!  

Barb, although the only way I play is with a noter, sometimes it feels as though I have little notion of what I'm doing.  I think it's wonderful you were able to spread the good news of the joy of playing mountain dulcimer!  (I'm honored you like Little Dog.) 

I'm working on a new tune I think I'll name after the village where Mark & I live.  After being away from home lots the past several years, I'm sleeping at home again every night.  <3




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Steven Berger
Steven Berger
@steven-berger
3 months ago
73 posts

Since getting back into playing my dulcimers (and my other instruments as well), I've been working on EVERYTHING (tunes, songs, technique, etc.)!confusey...But things are beginning to come together. grin

Richard Streib
Richard Streib
@richard-streib
3 months ago
116 posts

Ken H        It is looking awesome. Can't wait to see it finished.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 months ago
1,848 posts

That zitter is looking great so far, Ken.  yes

Jacob Gross sounds like a German name for sure.  On dulcimers and zitters, the only reason fretboards need to be higher than the body at all is if they are not on the edge of the instrument.  Often, older scheitholts and epinettes simply have their staple frets installed directly onto the top surface of the instrument, with no 'fretboard' at all!  Easy to play while gliding a noter up and down right along the instrument edge, using a lowered finger or knuckle as a guide along the side to keep you steady.

I've read in the past that one of the criteria for defining a 'mountain dulcimer' is that there IS a raised fretboard that is located somewhere in the middle area of the top body surface rather than right along one edge.  If the frets are located running down the middle of the top surface, then to play it with a noter there would have to be a fretboard that raises the frets up enough to allow the noter-holding hand enough room to function.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 months ago
609 posts

Wonderful!

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 months ago
1,754 posts

Thanx Ken.  Hopefully the final result will impress the museum and keep old Jacob from turning over in his grave! 

I will bring it to Berea.  I'll fly Allegiant this time, and come early-stay late as needed.  I found out they offer all sorts of perks to veterans -- like free checked luggage and free carryon bag as well, so I'll have plenty of "cargo space".

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
3 months ago
609 posts

Ken, that's looking really good. I can't wait to see and hear it. Will you be able to bring it to Berea in May?

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
3 months ago
1,754 posts

I have just started gluing up a museum replica zither from the Mercer Museum.  I saw photos of the instrument and fell in love.  Thanks to Ken Longfield I made contact with the museum staff, and they were more than accommodating -- taking over two dozen photos and tons of measurements for me.

The original (Mercer catalogue # 13834) appears to have been made by Jacob Gross (1807-1900) around the end of the Civil War.   It's 36" long tip to tail, 4.5" wide at the tail and 2.5" wide at the start of the tuning head.  The height slopes from 3.5" to 2.375".  The fretboard is only 1/8" tall.  Staple frets under the melody string only. 

Original woods are hard to tell, but I'm using Catalpa for the head and tail, Butternut for the top and bottom, and Maple for the sides.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 months ago
1,848 posts

Barb, reading your wonderful post really made my evening!  Your experience and 'adventure' so gratifying to hear about.  It just goes to show how it often takes only a minimum of musical efforts to bring great joy to others.  One need not be a highly skilled player at all, yet still be able to inspire and thrill others with your music.

 

" I also was able to demo a facsimile of noter drone that fooled those who had never seen it before! "
-Barb, seriously, even after many years that's exactly how I feel about my own playing sometimes!   bigsmile

Keep up the excellent work, Dulcimer Ambassador Barb!




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Black Dog Bess
Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
3 months ago
17 posts

Hi Dulcimer Friends! Thought I would give an update on my 1 month crash course to attain dulcimer competency so I could help a friend give a dulcimer demo at a local festival. I did manage to become an acceptable back up player (what I like to do anyway!) and made more progress on being able to play melody than I ever thought possible. I also was able to demo a facsimile of noter drone that fooled those who had never seen it before! My friend and I were greatly helped by another member of our jamming group who is a good, steady melody player and very experienced teacher.

The big surprise is I guess we were a big hit! We were tucked away in a historic Quaker meeting house which we had been told usually doesn't get any foot traffic. Well that changed this year because a lot of people showed up for the chicken dinner and when outdoor seating ran out, they were told to go eat in the meeting house and enjoy the dinner music!

What was really gratifying was the large number of people (old and young) who wanted to try out the dulcimers! We had one that has laser etched numbers on the fret spaces and this had a line for it. We spent more time teaching and helping them experience it than we did playing which was fine with us. The organizers were very pleased as this is what they had wanted for the demonstration. In this situation, being accessible was more important that being good. I think that is the most important lesson I learned from all of this. 

Thanks to all of you who encouraged me. FOTMD forums were definitely my friends as I learned noter and drone. Special thanks to Robin Thompson for permission to use Dance of the Little Dog, a fine noter and drone tune if I ever heard one!

We got invited back so my next move is to put numbers on all the lender dulcimers so I am ready for next year.

Thanks for being such an open, sharing community, Barb 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 months ago
1,848 posts

Sheryl St. Clare:

I love Larry's arrangements. 

I agree. @larry-conger 's arrangements are so beautiful.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 06/14/18 10:03:20AM
Sheryl St. Clare
Sheryl St. Clare
@sheryl-st-clare
3 months ago
331 posts

Larry Conger's arrangement of Leaving On a Jet Plane by John Denver. I love Larry's arrangements. 

Gail Webber
Gail Webber
@gail-webber
3 months ago
80 posts

I've been busy with a move, but have finally gotten settled.  I am starting to work on "Vincent", sometimes known as Starry, Starry Night.  I bought the tab along with an instructional CD from Tull Glazener at a festival in May.  It's such a beautiful song - I've wanted to learn it for a while.  I may do a little changing as I go along - we will see how it goes!

Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
4 months ago
440 posts

I picked up my baritone dulcimer this morning and out of nowhere came, "O What a Beautiful Morning!".

I think that my dulcimer is also glad that winter seems to have finally ended!




--
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
MollieNeuman
MollieNeuman
@mollieneuman
4 months ago
4 posts

That is really very sweet of you Elvensong nod

Mandy
Mandy
@mandy
4 months ago
147 posts

Elvensong:

My wife was recently in NY for business and I was missing her so I started a song called Counting the Days, a song about waiting for a loved one to come home. It's about finished, just doing some fine-tuning.

That is sweet! 

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 months ago
1,754 posts

I'm going to video bits of a practice session this coming week; will see about posting something.

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
4 months ago
976 posts

@black-dog-bess Barb, have fun giving the lap dulcimer demo!  




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Elvensong
Elvensong
@elvensong
4 months ago
27 posts

My wife was recently in NY for business and I was missing her so I started a song called Counting the Days, a song about waiting for a loved one to come home. It's about finished, just doing some fine-tuning.

Elvensong
Elvensong
@elvensong
4 months ago
27 posts

Ken Hulme:

My own arrangements of of the 10th century Saxon poem The Wanderer, Tolkien's The Lay of Beowulf,  verses from the Havamal, and Jabberwocky, for my Anglo-Saxon Lyre performance on June 23rd/

Would love to hear these! I'm a huge Tolkien fan and his material is rich with stories.

Jill Geary
Jill Geary
@jill-geary
4 months ago
24 posts

 

Ken Hulme:

My own arrangements of of the 10th century Saxon poem The Wanderer, Tolkien's The Lay of Beowulf,  verses from the Havamal, and Jabberwocky, for my Anglo-Saxon Lyre performance on June 23rd/

Ken, I too would love to hear your Lyre performance/tunes! Please share!

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
4 months ago
472 posts

Trying to get my set list together for Pattyfest on Saturday.  Playing 1st on the schedule so I gotta be right.

 

Gordon Hardy
Gordon Hardy
@gordon-hardy
4 months ago
18 posts

I'm also working on Wayfaring Stranger. Don't mean to cut your grass Terry!

 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
4 months ago
1,848 posts

@ken-hulme  - I for one would enjoy hearing a sample of those interesting pieces you are working up for your lyre gig!




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Black Dog Bess
Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
4 months ago
17 posts

Reacquainting myself with the lap dulcimer. I had given them up last year because I could not chord with them. I since have learned a bit about melody and drone and noter and drone (thank you Robin and Strumelia!) so I am getting back to them. Also a friend wanted moral support with a dulcimer demonstration she is giving at a local festival so I think I better learn a little more than the folks who will be observing us!

Barb

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
4 months ago
976 posts

Mark & I are having fun with Mississippi Sawyer and working on an as-yet unnamed original tune.  

Happy strummin', friends! 




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
4 months ago
1,754 posts

My own arrangements of of the 10th century Saxon poem The Wanderer, Tolkien's The Lay of Beowulf,  verses from the Havamal, and Jabberwocky, for my Anglo-Saxon Lyre performance on June 23rd/

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
4 months ago
252 posts
Wayfaring Stranger.
hugssandi
@hugssandi
4 months ago
248 posts

O Master Let Me Walk With Thee

Yield Not to Temptation

I hope to get to play one of them in church, but we'll see.  We already have a lot of talented people lined up, always!

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
5 months ago
263 posts

A lovely tune  called Petronella. Started from scratch 24 hours ago. Spent most of my free time figuring it out. Learned it first on double D banjo then moved on to dulcimer. If I started out on the dulcimer first it would have taken me half the time. This tune plays out well on traditional diatonic Daa noter drone style...Robert

 

Bob
Bob
@bob
5 months ago
175 posts

I am finishing up one dulcimer bound for Missouri- Black Walnut and Butternut. (pics to come!)

I have also started parts for another, similar dulcimer that's bound for Massachusetts. I will build one alongside the Massachusetts dulcimer for a Craft Show in May. Time permits, maybe I can build a carry-case as well for that show!


updated by @bob: 04/16/18 08:33:43PM
MTWaggin
MTWaggin
@mtwaggin
5 months ago
5 posts

Thanks Dean and hello to Jill!

Below is totally how I learn so that came easy.  I also find (as I did back in my teenage days, that then playing each song each session that I've already learned helps as warm up for learning the new ones too).   The posture and breathing will come, I need to work on those in my life in general.   Thanks for the strumming reminders as well.   Always much to remember but in general I play when I can, where I can and am enjoying it a TON.  

Jill, Those are the reasons I am starting with noter too, and will add in the fingered chords as I can an feel comfy.  Part of what I love is that you can make beautiful music regardless of the "style" that feels the best and most comfortable!

Love you people! 

PS I also adore that everyone plays so many different instruments!  How cool is that?!

Sherry in MT

 

Elvensong:

 

 

As for learning new songs, I learned a couple of great tips from Aaron O'Rourke at the Menucha Dulcimer Festival: Don't try to learn the whole song at once. Take two measures and practice them slowly until you are comfortable then speed up for a few strums then work your way up to the tempo of the song. Then move to the next couple of measures.

 

And when you choose the measures to work on, play those measure PLUS the first beat of the next measure that you are not playing. Doing this allows you to instantly be setup to play the next measures and it smooths the transition to the new material. Once you have the new measures (don't forget to grab the first beat of the next measure) "under your fingers", go back and play the original two measure with the new measures until it is smooth, then move to the next new measures.

 

 


updated by @mtwaggin: 04/16/18 04:48:16PM
Elvensong
Elvensong
@elvensong
5 months ago
27 posts

MTWaggin: I will take you all back to your beginner days (since that is what I am)...I just started trying some chord work ... the chord work even at a simple level makes my hands and arms hurt...

Hi MTWaggin and @jill-geary! What a treat to have another dulcimer player join the family, MTWaggin! The dulcimer's dulcet tones captivate and never let go. I'm still as in awe of the MD as I was years ago!

I wanted to throw out a couple of suggestions to see if it might help:

I often see new or even seasoned players hunched over their dulcimer with their shoulders scrunched against their neck and their arms and wrists are stiff. And very often they hold their breath for long periods of time due to their focus. I don't know if these are your issue(s) but it is quite common.

I played that way for years but got tired of being sore. I discovered that if I sit up straight (not stiff but comfortable) and take a deep breath and purposely relax my shoulders, it relieves much of the strain.

In addition, when you are strumming, don't use your whole arm (think sawing motion) but rather use more of your wrist; more like a brushing motion like when brushing egg wash on a pie crust or brushing a bread crumb off your pants.

Also, I see many beginners try to strum perpendicular to the strings, i.e straight across the fretboard. Without using the left hand, try strumming the strings perpendicular then watch what happens to your arm: your elbow will be far forward and your forearm will be almost parallel with the fretboard - it is very unnatural and is very often the source of sore arms, shoulders and wrists.

When you strum, hold your arm as though it was going to rest on your right thigh. Think of starting your strum at the 7 o'clock position and cross the strings to the 2 o'clock position. Look at your arm now: it will be relaxed and at a natural angle and the wrist is moving its natural direction as well relieving stress there.

And don't forget to breathe!

As for learning new songs, I learned a couple of great tips from Aaron O'Rourke at the Menucha Dulcimer Festival: Don't try to learn the whole song at once. Take two measures and practice them slowly until you are comfortable then speed up for a few strums then work your way up to the tempo of the song. Then move to the next couple of measures.

And when you choose the measures to work on, play those measure PLUS the first beat of the next measure that you are not playing. Doing this allows you to instantly be setup to play the next measures and it smooths the transition to the new material. Once you have the new measures (don't forget to grab the first beat of the next measure) "under your fingers", go back and play the original two measure with the new measures until it is smooth, then move to the next new measures.

Not only does this break the task of learning a new song down to manageable pieces, it also builds muscle memory because each time you learn a new set of measures, you will be also practicing the ones you've learned. By the time you've finished the last measure fo the song you will be able to play it from beginning to end at tempo and you will be thrilled!

Aaron is a fantastic teacher and I highly recommend the Dulcimerschool.com. Aaron and Stephen Seifert teach beginner to advanced and it's a STEAL at the price.

I hope this helps!

Have a great day! bighug

 

Dean

 


updated by @elvensong: 04/16/18 04:25:51PM
Jill Geary
Jill Geary
@jill-geary
5 months ago
24 posts

Strumelia - thanks for the tip re: the Susato with keys - I didn't know they made those!

Sherry from MT - I totally feel your pain (probably literally) - I've been dealing with various hand-issues, and recently have "gone back to" DAA with a noter so I can play my beloved dulcimers! I'm working on ways to play noter/drone that sounds pretty and not quite so much fast/sliding/swishing (although that's okay too). My first choice would always be 3 or 4 ED with fingerpicking, but my hands are not happy with that - and I'm moving my goals around :-)

 

MTWaggin
MTWaggin
@mtwaggin
5 months ago
5 posts

Yes Strumelia it would probably be good for me to do those stretches in general!  My chiropractor would certainly agree as I still work full time - yup, on the computer.   

Notsothoreau - my "tackling" is limited to what I feel I can memorize and then I also mess around with different ways to play each one - different strumming etc.  Sometimes successful sometimes not so much.  LOL

notsothoreau
@notsothoreau
5 months ago
44 posts

@mtwaggin,

I'm working on beginner stuff too. I'm trying to limit the number of songs I try to tackle, so that I can add chords and mess around with strumming. I think the important things are regular practice and to have fun!

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
5 months ago
1,848 posts

Sherry that's terrific!  Playing music, at any level, adds enrichment and joy to our lives.

Try to do some gentle hand/finger stretching several times a day... it will likely help over time in getting better range of motion in your hands.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
MTWaggin
MTWaggin
@mtwaggin
5 months ago
5 posts

I will take you all back to your beginner days (since that is what I am).  Happy to report I'm working on DAA mostly right now with a noter, Amazing Grace, Go Tell Aunt Rhodie and Simple Gifts.   I just started trying some chord work with Jesus Loves Me but I will admit after 40 years computer work, the chord work even at a simple level makes my hands and arms hurt.    I am so loving the sound and being able to do music again!  Happily Addicted!

Sherry in MT

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
5 months ago
1,848 posts

I don't even attempt to try a low D... my hands are just not big enough, even with using 'piper's grip' as Ariane described.

I can just about handle the stretches of low A and G whistles, using piper's grip.  But I now have Susato low G and A whistles with a key pad on the bottom 'bell' note hole- which has made them much easier to play for me.

I do tend to love the Bb which sounds warm and mellow but still has a pretty easy hand reach. :)




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ariane
Ariane
@ariane
5 months ago
15 posts

Jill, the most important thing when playing a low whistle is, not to cover the finger holes with the finger tips and with slightly bowed fingers (as one would do on a recorder) but to cover the finger holes with outstretched fingers - this might be in the area somewhere on the top of the finger up to the middle of the finger.

In addition there are low D whistles with hole distances made for smaller hands ... if this would still be a problem then I am sure you can play at least a low G which already has a warm and low sound. 

It is in any case worth a try flute

 

Jill Geary
Jill Geary
@jill-geary
5 months ago
24 posts

Strumelia:

I've been working on playing my lower key penny whistles lately- I recently got some polymer whistles in the low keys of G, A, Bb, and C.  I traded my old harmonicas for two of them- a couple of beautiful custom made low whistles.  I need to post a couple of pix of the custom ones- they are works of art and they have a charming tone too. 

 

Yesterday I played my low Bb whistle along with my husband fiddling some of our favorite old tunes.  I made lots of mistakes but had a great time, and when I got a phrase right the harmonies were so pretty!  flutefiddle 

I love playing the whistle too - mostly a high D or C. Boy - that reach of the low D just kills my beat-up hands! Bb I can handle and that's about it. Would love to hear one of your duets with your husband's fiddle!

Elvensong
Elvensong
@elvensong
5 months ago
27 posts

Kusani:

Elevensong, great idea....  if only I could sing.....

You do your singing with the dulcimer instead of vocal chords. hi5

 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
5 months ago
1,848 posts

I've been working on playing my lower key penny whistles lately- I recently got some polymer whistles in the low keys of G, A, Bb, and C.  I traded my old harmonicas for two of them- a couple of beautiful custom made low whistles.  I need to post a couple of pix of the custom ones- they are works of art and they have a charming tone too. 

Yesterday I played my low Bb whistle along with my husband fiddling some of our favorite old tunes.  I made lots of mistakes but had a great time, and when I got a phrase right the harmonies were so pretty!  flutefiddle 




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
5 months ago
240 posts

Elevensong, great idea....  if only I could sing.....

Elvensong
Elvensong
@elvensong
5 months ago
27 posts

James Phillips:

Not dulcimer related, but I am working on Walking After Midnight by Patsy Cline on my 4 string tenor guitar.  Mostly key of C with a C7 in it.  If I could sing, I would do a video of it and post it onto YouTube but since I can't sing, that won't happen anytime soon ;-) 

I thought the same thing about myself until I took a class from Karen Mueller last week. And Joellen Lapidus had a great tip for starting out: Instead of trying to play the whole song, just strum the main chords and sing and gradually add in the missing pieces. It works! I've been wanting to sing and play for years but never thought I could walk and chew gum.  

Which proves the point that people don't appreciate what they are capable of until they actually try with a little focus.

Take care!

 

Dean

 

Elvensong
Elvensong
@elvensong
5 months ago
27 posts

Just returned from Menucha Dulcimer Festival and am so pumped with all the new techniques I learned. I will be incorporating those into new songs.

It's so good to be playing again! I'm still revisiting songs I wrote 20 years ago and lassoing them back under my fingers so with the new tricks and ideas I learned, I can incorporate them into older material to give them a fresh new sound.

I am soooo happy I found FOTMD. What a terrific community!

 

bighug

 

Dean

Susie
Susie
@susie
7 months ago
268 posts
Having fun with Bing's song, "Goodbye is Not Forever". A beautiful tune!
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
7 months ago
440 posts

I've spent the last 3 weeks practicing with the Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble as they prepare for several concerts in March.  In the process, I've learned a half dozen or so new songs:  Tom Kane's Reel, Castle of Dromore, My Wild Irish Rose, June's Lullaby, to name a few.  We've met 13 times in large and small groups and I know I'm really going to miss these good folks!




--
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
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,848 posts

Last night I had a big penny whistle practice session by myself.  I'm trying to get better on my low whistles, which requite a little more of a finger stretch.  I like practicing the Swedish "Summer Waltz"/Sommarvalsen. Such a beautiful waltz!




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
7 months ago
472 posts

James.... don't forget the F minor either!

Lisa.... very clear explanation of the note/number/scale relationship.  When one "gets" that then they are ready to progress to the higher realms of music theory or just realize they can now transpose music on the fly when confronted with sheet music in say Ab.

Randy... that's my 1st criterion as well.  I do tabs for folks and most of them I send out in 2 tunings, but some just won't fit a second tuning.

 

James Phillips
James Phillips
@james-phillips
7 months ago
94 posts

Not dulcimer related, but I am working on Walking After Midnight by Patsy Cline on my 4 string tenor guitar.  Mostly key of C with a C7 in it.  If I could sing, I would do a video of it and post it onto YouTube but since I can't sing, that won't happen anytime soon ;-) 

Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
7 months ago
133 posts
A first consideration when I choose a tuning is how the notes lay out on the fingerboard....are all the notes I need available? Are the high notes not too high? Are the low notes mot too low? Are the low parts of the tune available at the lower end of the fingerboard and the high parts at the high end?
For me other considerations such as key and timber and mood evoked are necessarily secondary.
I generally use DAA, Dad and DGC AND their higher and lower equivalents...with DGC being by far the most versatile....due to home note located at the 4th fret.
That's all I can explain for now but more to come if any one's interested.
updated by @randy-adams: 02/18/18 09:39:15AM
marg
@marg
7 months ago
561 posts

WOW, thanks strumelia - starting to make sense counting this way.

thanks so much

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,848 posts

That's right Marg, I'm not talking about fret numbers. And I'm not talking about whether a note is on an open string or not (sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't).

If you are talking about the key of D... the scale starts on a D note.  That is the 1st note of the scale.  The second note of the scale for the key of D is E. (don't worry about what fret it's on).  The 5th note in the scale for the key of D is A.  If you are using a DAd tuning, you will find an A note on the bass string on the 4th fret, and you'll also find an A note on the open middle string... thus don't depend on fret numbers to find your notes in the scale. 

Yes it helps to count on your fingers because the frets can confuse you in this case, especially since people have extra frets and use different tunings.  We're talking about the musical key scale now, not dulcimer fretboards.  -->Know that the musical scale alphabet only goes up to G...then it starts over again with A B C etc.  So for example the key of C would be: C,D,E,F,G,A,B

On your hand, for the key of D you can start with your thumb as being the D, 1st, or '1' note. (Also called the Home note or Tonic note or Key Note.) Then use the alphabet for the next fingers... E, F#, G, A.  (key of D uses a Csharp and an Fsharp, but don't worry about that for now, they are still a C and an F in the alphabet).  Notice the A is at the last of your five fingered hand... the 5th note of the scale.  A key scale has seven notes or steps... so to complete the scale for key of D after the A (5th), go to your 6th finger on other hand and continue on with B(6th note), C#(7th and final note of the scale).  The next note after that, continuing up higher, will be the d note which an octave higher than the low D you started on.  (think do re mi fa sol la ti do) 

This higher d starting a new seven note octave can be referred to as the 8th note to make it clear that it's the key/tonic note again but starting on a higher octave.  For that reason, the DAd tuning is sometimes called a 1-5-8 tuning.  (the melody string high d is 8 steps higher than the low D on the bass string.  It went through the 7 notes of the D scale and went beyond that to 8 steps above where you started on the low D.  In DAd, the lower case 'd' tells you it's an octave higher than the low D written in upper case.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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updated by @strumelia: 02/17/18 11:11:54PM
marg
@marg
7 months ago
561 posts

strumelia,

(if you are in the key of D, D is 1...)

When I am in D, as in DAd, i thought the D is the open & also 7th fret. So, when you say ( first note of a seven note scale for a key is the key note, and it's also referred to as note 1.note 1 doesn't mean fret 1, just the first note, as in D first note is open? Maybe I should count on my fingers & not the fret board. I think it's maybe my counting, I couldn't understand how an open D could be note 1 (thinking fret board) so how could an A be the the 5th, since it wasn't on the 5th fret but the 4th.  If this is right, I have a chance of getting some lights bulbs turn on, if not it will be pretty dark around here yet for awhile. It does seem pretty silly now - not understanding - that 1st fret isn't note 1 or 5th note isn't 5th fret. 

ken,

thanks, i downloaded your article about modes - looks like I have some homework cut out for me.

Thank you both

 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,848 posts

Ken, I wouldn't necessarily describe people as 'stuck' simply because they've learned and enjoy playing a certain way together with others and don't have a desire to learn to play in other ways or tunings that you might think they should. Just as you might not like it when someone says noter playing is too 'limited', well other people may not appreciate being described as being 'stuck' in the way they choose to enjoy playing.  winky  

I remember when I used to sing unaccompanied Appalachian ballads a great deal.  Sometimes after singing in public, some well meaning musician would tell me it'd be so 'much nicer sounding' if I had guitar chord accompaniment. I would thank them for their suggestion (but I secretly wanted to tell them they should just go out and accompany their own ballad singing with guitars if they wanted to so much).  happydance




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 months ago
1,754 posts

Marg -- these re not often brought up in workshops because the vast majority of players are "stuck" in DAd, and have no desire or interest in changing to anything else.  Those players, like yourself who stretch themselves are the minority.  But there are places like FOTMD and folks like Lisa and myself and others who have dug into music theory or at least dulcimer music theory, who are more than willing to help others lean more.

I've attached an old article I wrote which explains a bit about Modes and Modal tunings. which you may find interesting reading.


updated by @ken-hulme: 02/17/18 07:23:42PM
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,848 posts

Marg, understood.  nod

It's not easy to put these things all together in your mind when starting out.  Light bulbs go on in your head here and there as time goes on, but it takes a while for the whole house to be lit up.  lolol   You're right that capos throw another variable into the mix when trying to figure out tunings and keys.

I'm going to stop now, but allow me just this one very basic concept:  in general, the first note of a seven note scale for a key is the key note, and it's also referred to as note 1.  If you are in the key of A, note 1 is A, the 'home' or key note.  Note 2 then becomes B, and note 3 of the scale is C.   Likewise, if you are in the key of C, the notes of the scale are: C(1), D(2) E(3) F(4) G(5) A(6) and B(7).  
Thus, if you are in the key of D, D is 1...and going up the alphabet from D to note 5 you'd get A.  D is the 1 note of the key of D scale, and A is the 5th.  This is why DAA is referred to as a 1-5-5 tuning if D is the key(1) note. 

Ok I'll stop now! zip




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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marg
@marg
7 months ago
561 posts

( where you center your key note when you are in a tuning.)

That's when the capo come's in, you can be in a particular tuning but a different key depending on where you place the capo. I know by the last note what key or tuning i am in or should be in. I don't  know  (tonic note or key notes or fifth notes, etc ) but with this tab, it said what key it was in. I still have lots to learn but with this, I was just excited about trying the new tuning and hearing the tone. 

This is something that isn't gone over & should be in a class or workshop but most of the times the group just wants to have a jam. It's a journey, I don't mind how long the road is in learning all I can, it's just takes me time - time that I will run out of before I understand it all - but all good.

thanks

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,848 posts

Marg, if you are not sure what key you are playing in... then if you play a simple hymn in CFC and the last note of the tune is an F note, then yes you are likely then playing in a 'reverse' ionian mode tuning for the key of F then.   Likewise if you are tuned DGd and the last note of that hymn was a G, then again you are in a 'reverse ionian' tuning for playing in G.

 I should mention that just because one is in a particular tuning (say DAd) it doesn't necessarily mean you are playing in a set mode.  It's not the tuning itself that is cemented to a particular mode... but rather how you play and where you center your key note when you are in a tuning.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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updated by @strumelia: 02/17/18 01:23:06PM
marg
@marg
7 months ago
561 posts

strumelia,

The middle string in DAd - A is just tuned down one step to G so no breaking the string & yes it is a bit heavier. In CFC  (maybe I should say a little c on the melody for maybe the (middle c) the DGd is tuned down one step, no breaking any strings with just going 1 step in either direction. 

( key of G... a key-of-G 'reverse' tuning with that DGd.

I don't know much about tonic note or key notes or fifth notes, etc - guess I'm not there yet. But, yes it looks like it would be 'reverse tuning' and tuned down 1 step. At this point, all I know is I was in DGd (tab was marked DGD) & it was suggested (margaret Wright tab)  it could be played CFC (key of F) - I tried it and it sounded so lovely. 

So, I would say - maybe yes,  I was in the key of G 'reverse' tuning than tuned down to key of F, I guess also 'reverse' tuning? 

It'a a long dulcimer journey & I started late in life but thanks to all of you - I am on a good path, a learning path with sweet results

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,848 posts

Marg, I'm curious about what mode you are playing in with your DGd tuning.  I'm assuming you are playing in the key of G when you are tuned that way?... with your home tonic (1) note on the 3rd fret of the melody string?  If so, then you are tuned in what's sometimes called a 'reverse' tuning..  where the middle string is tuned to the tonic key note, and the bass string is tuned to a fifth of the scale but below the middle string note.  (in the key of G, G is the tonic '1' note, and D is the fifth (5) note of the scale).  Thus, if playing in the key of D, a DAA tuning is sometimes referred to as a 1-5-5 tuning...but I digress. 

Most traditional tunings are not 'reverse' tunings. Traditionally, mostly the bass string is tuned to the tonic '1' note, and the middle string is tuned to a 5th above that.  A reverse tuning reverses the role of the bass and middle strings -its purpose is to avoid tuning the middle string up so far as to break it...for example if playing in the key of G, a Gdd 1-5-5 tuning might break that middle string.  This is because most dulcimers are set up having the middle string a heavier gauge than the melody string, so it cannot tune up quite as high as the melody string without breaking.

so...  Just wondering whether you are playing in the key of G... a key-of-G 'reverse' tuning with that DGd.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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updated by @strumelia: 02/17/18 12:11:21PM
marg
@marg
7 months ago
561 posts

Thanks, fast work

I was sharing the information with members in the group here & they want to retune to CFC to start. What a great way to learn what the dulcimer can do. Since I don't see DGD listed & CFC is a step down from there, I'm thinking there are many more ways to tune but I have a great start to my next step in the dulcimer journey.

Thanks 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,848 posts

Good one Ken.  nod

But the key of D Dorian really needs to be DAG (not DAg)... since virtually everyone will break their melody string tuning it to that high octave g.

I'd say the same holds true for DAF, except it's rare that people try to tune and play in Phrygian mode, so average players don't need to worry about it.

DAd and DAe on the other hand are usually do-able on the melody string without it breaking.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 02/17/18 11:37:56AM
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 months ago
1,754 posts

Marg;  Here you go

Aeolian A......traditional tuning AEG

Locrian B......typical tuning Bb F G

Ionian C........traditional tuning CGG

Dorian D.......traditional tuning DAG

Phrygian E.....typical dulcimer tuning E Bb G

Lydian F.......typical dulcimer tuning F E Bb

Mixolydian G..traditional tuning GDg

However, since so many people have become “D-sensitized” (all puns intended) to the traditional keynotes of the Modes, here are the Key of D Modal tunings:
Ionian........DAA

Locrian.......DAB

Aeolian.......DAC

Mixolydian...DAd

Lydian........DAe

Phrygian.....DAf

Dorian........DAG


updated by @ken-hulme: 02/17/18 07:16:35PM
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 months ago
1,848 posts

Robin Clark:...And different dulcimers react differently at different pitches - so it is definitely worth experimenting.  ...Playing everything out of the key of D on the dulcimer may mean that we are not necessarily getting the best from the instrument for all tunes.  So there are both practical (singing or fitting with other instruments) and also possible aesthetic reasons to consider re-tuning.

So true Robin!

My two epinettes have only a one inch difference in their scale length, yet they are made with different depth dimensions and different woods.  I find one sounds perfect when tuned to minor 'soulful' aeolian/dorian modes, and the other just seems to shine in major/ionian 'happy' mode.

This is a good reason to have more than one instrument.  coool




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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marg
@marg
7 months ago
561 posts

Kin, Where would I find the tunings to go with the different mode's

Richard Streib
Richard Streib
@richard-streib
7 months ago
116 posts

Thanks, Ken. That is a great reference to have.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 months ago
1,754 posts

The ancient Greeks felt that each Mode had a mood associated with it.  I found this list a looong time ago:

Lydian -- Very bright, upbeat. Good for pop, contemporary praise, kid’s music, etc.
Ionian -- Happy, bright. For love songs, children’s songs, contemporary and popular tunes.
Mixolydian -- Middle of the road bright - for light rock, pop, country, etc.
Dorian -- The perfect middle ground. Not too bright, not to dark. Good for country, rock, blues.
Aeolian -- A gritty, bluesy, warm-sounding rock mode. The standard for rock and blues.
Phrygian -- Dark, classical metal sound. A Randy Rhoads favorite.
Locrian -- Very dark, dissident, brooding - great for heavy metal, dark classical, etc.

Richard Streib
Richard Streib
@richard-streib
7 months ago
116 posts

So well explained Robin. I have found that some music sounds better in a different tuning or even on a different dulcimer  that is not in a different tuning. It is fun to experiment to find which song sounds best with which tuning and or instrument. I guess I need a notation system for my music to remind which tuning and or which dulcimer sounds best.

 

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
7 months ago
362 posts

marg:

     I usually play in DAd, at times I tune DAA for Hymns. I don't care for DGD but this evening while working on some DGD Hymns, I tuned to CFC & played the DGD tabs.

     Oh My, I know I'm not telling many of you anything you don't already know but the tone was so beautiful. I had never played in CFC, didn't really know much about it till this evening. To me, it sounded like Hymns from long ago, in a little wooden church off the side of the road beside the bend in the bayou - simply beautiful.

That's a great discovery Marg smile  Moving the tuning on a dulcimer to enhance the feel of a piece of music is something I do.  I may try out a few different pitches to see how they sound for a piece before settling on the timbre I like the most.  And different dulcimers react differently at different pitches - so it is definitely worth experimenting.  Also, there may be something in the belief that the key itself has an impact upon us.  They ran a nice series of short programmes on BBC Radio 4 about famous classical music pieces associated with different keys and discussed if the key had an impact on how we heard the piece and on why the composer may have chosen it.  Playing everything out of the key of D on the dulcimer may mean that we are not necessarily getting the best from the instrument for all tunes.  So there are both practical (singing or fitting with other instruments) and also possible aesthetic reasons to consider re-tuning. 


updated by @robin-clark: 02/17/18 04:24:37AM
marg
@marg
7 months ago
561 posts

     I usually play in DAd, at times I tune DAA for Hymns. I don't care for DGD but this evening while working on some DGD Hymns, I tuned to CFC & played the DGD tabs.

     Oh My, I know I'm not telling many of you anything you don't already know but the tone was so beautiful. I had never played in CFC, didn't really know much about it till this evening. To me, it sounded like Hymns from long ago, in a little wooden church off the side of the road beside the bend in the bayou - simply beautiful.

 
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