What Are You Working On?

Bob
Bob
@bob
3 days ago
156 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
3 days 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
3 days ago
11 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
3 days ago
21 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
3 days 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
3 days ago
19 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
3 days ago
1,815 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
3 days 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
3 days ago
1,815 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. :)




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ariane
Ariane
@ariane
3 days ago
6 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
3 days ago
21 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
4 days ago
11 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
4 days ago
1,815 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 




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Kusani
Kusani
@kusani
4 days ago
212 posts

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

Elvensong
Elvensong
@elvensong
4 days ago
11 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
4 days ago
11 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
2 months ago
256 posts
Having fun with Bing's song, "Goodbye is Not Forever". A beautiful tune!
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
2 months ago
441 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!




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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
2 months ago
1,815 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
2 months ago
474 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
2 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
2 months ago
132 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
2 months ago
564 posts

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

thanks so much

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,815 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.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 02/17/18 11:11:54PM
marg
@marg
2 months ago
564 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
2 months ago
1,815 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.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
1,662 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
2 months ago
1,815 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.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
marg
@marg
2 months ago
564 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
2 months ago
1,815 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.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 02/17/18 01:23:06PM
marg
@marg
2 months ago
564 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
2 months ago
1,815 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.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990

updated by @strumelia: 02/17/18 12:11:21PM
marg
@marg
2 months ago
564 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
2 months ago
1,815 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
2 months ago
1,662 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
2 months ago
1,815 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.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
marg
@marg
2 months ago
564 posts

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

Richard Streib
Richard Streib
@richard-streib
2 months ago
86 posts

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

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
1,662 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
2 months ago
86 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
2 months ago
367 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
2 months ago
564 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.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
971 posts

Jill Geary: Thanks Dusty. I didn't know about the other two groups. I don't want to hijack this thread, but do you have recommendations for arpeggios (or just play chords and arpeggiate?), or other exercises? Or an outline of warm-ups including scales/arpeggios/ etc.? 

Jill, I'm going to send you a personal message.




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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
Jill Geary
Jill Geary
@jill-geary
2 months ago
21 posts

Dusty Turtle:

Jennifer and Jill, I'm certainly glad you got something out of my video.  We should all remember that we have a Group here called Help Me Learn This Song where members can ask other members how to play certain passages and the Arranging for Dulcimers Group where we can seek help arranging tunes.  We should all probably make use of those Groups more often to seek advice from and share advice with one another.

 

 

 

 

Thanks Dusty. I didn't know about the other two groups. I don't want to hijack this thread, but do you have recommendations for arpeggios (or just play chords and arpeggiate?), or other exercises? Or an outline of warm-ups including scales/arpeggios/ etc.?

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
1,662 posts

There are MUCH cheaper peg hole reamers available than the $50 or $60 or more reamers from the big name places like LM or StewMac.  They're fine if you don't plan on reaming thousands of holes.  I paid, $15 or $16 with free shipping for one just recently through Amazon, IIRC.

Black Dog Bess
Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
2 months ago
10 posts

Strumelia:

Wittner or Perfection brand geared tuning pegs are the thing these days.  They look like ebony wood pegs, but have hidden gears and work very smoothly and easily.  They also eliminate the need for fine tuners.  I'm having them put on my langspil that is being made.  They come in various sizes as for violin, viola, cello...   Many many violin players use them now, and unless you look closely, you'd never know they weren't just regular ebony pegs.

Thanks to both you and Robert for the Wittner and Perfection peg info, also thanks for the info on International Violin Supply. It looks like a great source for accessories and parts. I have looked at videos on both Wittner and Perfection. Does anyone have a preference for either one? I'm leaning toward Wittner because it's easier to replace if a peg develops mechanical problems. It looks like I might be able to install it myself if I get an instrument reamer from Stew Mac.

Barb

robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
2 months ago
258 posts

Ken Hulme:

About the turn of the last century, luthiers actually installed beautiful curved brass plate (not plated) geared tuners for violins.  Violinists world wide spurned the tuners as too radical and in a few years they were no longer used.  If you can fin sets of geared violin tuners in a musical junk shop, they make really pretty additions to a mountain dulcimer.

International violin supply sells them. Tommy Jarrell used them on his fiddle. Violin players don't like them due to added weight. Some say it harms the tone. At the moment they have Whittners on sale. A good price compared to the ripoffs on E bay. I'm getting some for my new Galax that I'm building.... Robert

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,815 posts

Wittner or Perfection brand geared tuning pegs are the thing these days.  They look like ebony wood pegs, but have hidden gears and work very smoothly and easily.  They also eliminate the need for fine tuners.  I'm having them put on my langspil that is being made.  They come in various sizes as for violin, viola, cello...   Many many violin players use them now, and unless you look closely, you'd never know they weren't just regular ebony pegs.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
1,662 posts

About the turn of the last century, luthiers actually installed beautiful curved brass plate (not plated) geared tuners for violins.  Violinists world wide spurned the tuners as too radical and in a few years they were no longer used.  If you can fin sets of geared violin tuners in a musical junk shop, they make really pretty additions to a mountain dulcimer.

Black Dog Bess
Black Dog Bess
@black-dog-bess
2 months ago
10 posts

I am working on teaching myself fiddle under the guidance of Mr You Tube. I have taught myself mandolin and have been really taken by tunings in fifths. I kept wondering about fiddle but thought it would be too difficult so I always talked myself out of it. But I couldn't make the thought go away, so I finally decided to take it on.

It is proving to be a real challenge. If any instrument needs a makeover, it is the violin (just my opinion!)--friction pegs, balancing it on your shoulder up in the air! But the challenge is really worth it. It is an amazing way to improve your ability to hear pitch. You can get decals to put on the fingerboard that show the major scale. I was delighted to see the pattern of the dulcimer frets again, it helped it make more sense.

I have been fortunate that my husband and cat can tolerate the horrible noises I produce--my mandolin banjo drove them out of the room! 

Sawing away in Pittsburgh, Barb

Kevin R.
Kevin R.
@kevin-r
2 months ago
1 posts

Dusty Turtle:

Jennifer and Jill, I'm certainly glad you got something out of my video.  We should all remember that we have a Group here called Help Me Learn This Song where members can ask other members how to play certain passages and the Arranging for Dulcimers Group where we can seek help arranging tunes.  We should all probably make use of those Groups more often to seek advice from and share advice with one another.

It may seem that there is a wide chasm between "beginners" and "skilled" players, but that divide can be bridged.  I remember marveling at how cleanly some people played or how they used certain fingers (like their pinky or thumb) in ways that I seemed incapable of doing. But I just kept plugging away.  I've found playing scales and arpeggios and using a metronome have helped me immeasurably.  My pinky is finally feeling strong and I can sometimes play a verse or two really cleanly, with no buzzing or extra strings hit by accident. It doesn't take a long time working with those kinds of exercises to see some benefit.  I tell my students that when you work on a song, you get better at that song.  But when you work on exercises such as scales and arpeggios, you get better at every song you play.

Actually, sometimes the best players intimidate as much as they inspire.  They just seem so proficient that it seems you'll never get there. That can be discouraging. But some beginners not only play with great enthusiasm but often express really great musical ideas, perhaps a rhythm, or an accent, or one or two well-placed notes, that can be truly inspirational even if the execution is not perfect from a professional standpoint.

Wow. Dusty, this was great! I still consider myself a beginner even though I have had my dulcimer for awhile now. Watching your videos, as well as other more accomplished players does help and provide inspiration to learn. I love watching an experienced player play, as well as teach and talk thru some of the things they struggle with as well. It provides encouragement because you can see that an accomplished player still has to work at things. It isn't just for beginners. They still have to practice, work thru difficulties, figure out how to make things work to make playing sound good, but also be done with ease of motion. Seeing, and knowing that it isn't just beginners who have to work at this stuff is great encouragement. It tells me with time, and practice I too will get better and will possibly become one of these more accomplished players. Keep up the good work and thanks for posting this.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
971 posts

Jennifer and Jill, I'm certainly glad you got something out of my video.  We should all remember that we have a Group here called Help Me Learn This Song where members can ask other members how to play certain passages and the Arranging for Dulcimers Group where we can seek help arranging tunes.  We should all probably make use of those Groups more often to seek advice from and share advice with one another.

It may seem that there is a wide chasm between "beginners" and "skilled" players, but that divide can be bridged.  I remember marveling at how cleanly some people played or how they used certain fingers (like their pinky or thumb) in ways that I seemed incapable of doing. But I just kept plugging away.  I've found playing scales and arpeggios and using a metronome have helped me immeasurably.  My pinky is finally feeling strong and I can sometimes play a verse or two really cleanly, with no buzzing or extra strings hit by accident. It doesn't take a long time working with those kinds of exercises to see some benefit.  I tell my students that when you work on a song, you get better at that song.  But when you work on exercises such as scales and arpeggios, you get better at every song you play.

Actually, sometimes the best players intimidate as much as they inspire.  They just seem so proficient that it seems you'll never get there. That can be discouraging. But some beginners not only play with great enthusiasm but often express really great musical ideas, perhaps a rhythm, or an accent, or one or two well-placed notes, that can be truly inspirational even if the execution is not perfect from a professional standpoint.




--
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
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,815 posts

As long as we get encouraged by some means, doesn't matter so much the medium!  And if we too can inspire someone else along the way (as you do Dusty) so much the better!

One lovely thing I learned from running FOTMD for years is that one doesn't have to be a musician of any particular level to inspire or lift up others.  I find that beginners can often inspire me just as much as skilled players can.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Jill Geary
Jill Geary
@jill-geary
2 months ago
21 posts

Hi Dusty. I, too, thank you for the video. Watching how you logic through the best way to play some passages is interesting. I would appreciate seeing more of this. And your conclusion of how you intend to move forward (metronome, etc) makes me realize that you good musicians have to work and practice, just like the rest of us!

Yes, learning from fiddlers would be nice. I'm learning whistle tunes from a friend who is a good Irish player - she records a tune for me to learn by ear, and then I just sit and listen to it over and over and over....not quite the same as sitting in a session, but helps....

Jill 

San Diego

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
971 posts

I wish I had the opportunity to learn fiddle tunes from old-time fiddlersfiddleinstead of books Image result for book smiley.




--
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
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,815 posts

I'm used to hearing it in oldtime circles like the way Melvin Wine played it as well.

Maybe 18 years ago i met Mr. Wine in Augusta Heritage week.  I was walking around with my banjo by myself and got to chatting with him in the middle of a grassy area.  He asked if I'd like to play a tune and I said I was a rank beginner but sure I'd love to, so we found a place with some chairs and played one or two fiddle tunes- I stumbled along on my banjo and he played slowly for my benefit.  He was VERY kind and gracious and genuine.  Then some folks came along and he had to go attend some scheduled class or something.  I felt honored to have played with him for a few minutes!  He must have in his 70s or 80s at the time, and I never ran into him again.  Brian and I sometimes play "Melvin Wine's Waltz" and I always think of that day when i play that tune.  :)




--
Site Owner

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

updated by @strumelia: 02/09/18 12:43:07PM
JenniferC
JenniferC
@jenniferc
2 months ago
41 posts
Dusty, I just wanted to let you know, I really appreciated your video. I wish more people would post this sort of thing! As a player interested in learning to make my own arrangements, I found your video to be helpful in terms of seeing the process you are going through.
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
971 posts

Rob N Lackey:Dusty, I enjoyed your video if no one else did/does.  lol.  I will point out that here in WV "Rachel" is played with the C# in the first part, not a C natural.  If you listen to the video of Melvin Wine playing it you can hear that plainly.  Also, he doesn't play it at lightning speed.  He's relaxed and kind of rocking back and forth with it.  I think you've given me impetus to learn this one that I've liked since hearing Alan Freeman's version on record.

Rob, I should have predicted that you would be the only one to find my video at all interesting!  I got the sheet music from Pete Martin's Old Time Fiddle Tunes vol 1, which has that C natural.  I like the sound even though it only comes in passing and doesn't really define the melody. I am not surprised to hear of versions with the C#.  I'll definitely check out Melvin Wine's version, especially because I'd like to get proficient at this tune without having to play at bluegrass warp speed.




--
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
2 months ago
1,662 posts

Working on repertoire for a Lyre presentation -- excerpts from Tolkien's translation of Beowulf, a Saxon Poem called The Wanderer, and excerpts from the Hávamál (Guide To Being a Good Viking).  Eighth century style Lyre-accompanied poetry. 

 

Rob N Lackey
Rob N Lackey
@rob-n-lackey
2 months ago
474 posts

Dusty, I enjoyed your video if no one else did/does.  lol.  I will point out that here in WV "Rachel" is played with the C# in the first part, not a C natural.  If you listen to the video of Melvin Wine playing it you can hear that plainly.  Also, he doesn't play it at lightning speed.  He's relaxed and kind of rocking back and forth with it.  I think you've given me impetus to learn this one that I've liked since hearing Alan Freeman's version on record.

 

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
971 posts

How about a video response? 




--
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

updated by @dusty-turtle: 02/08/18 04:40:23PM
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
2 months ago
441 posts

Jill, I got my copy of Castle of Dromore at a workshop led by Sarah Morgan.  I don't know if she's OK with it being shared or not.




--
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
Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
2 months ago
225 posts
Edelweiss.
Jill Geary
Jill Geary
@jill-geary
2 months ago
21 posts

Jan Potts:

Currently learning Castle of Dromore, an arrangement by Sarah Morgan.

Jan, how does one get a copy of Sarah's arrangement? I do have a lovely arrangement by Nina.

 

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 months ago
1,815 posts

Yikes, I have various repertoire lists, from various times in my life.  sigh There's NO WAY I could keep them all playable, even if I were to practice a couple hours a day.

What really makes it unfeasible is that they are from various instruments I play or have played over time. Dulcimer, banjo, mandolin, rebec, jouhikko, penny whistles, psaltery, epinette, even sung ballads.  I do know I'll never play mandolin or bowed psaltery at all anymore, so that simplifies a bit.  But I also have my repertoire divided among a few genres that include American old-time/Appalachian, minstrel/civilwar, European folk dance tunes, and medieval/renaissance. All wonderful tunes and songs that I dearly love or loved at one time.

Like many of you experience, other things eat away at my music time, plus I'm still working.  At this point in time, I'm actively playing banjo, epinette, hummel, pennywhistle, and I will have to add in time for my bowed langspil when that arrives in a few months.  As it stands now, I only play for a handful of hours each week.  Once I stop work in about 4 more years or so I'll have a 'little' more time to play music.  (we all know how that goes)

I have tidy loose leaf books of my favorite tunes well organized by genre already.  What I really need to do is discipline myself to devote an hour a day or two hours every other day, and alternate/rotate instruments so that I move forward with my skillset instead of just treading water or falling behind.  Self discipline is so hard to implement!  poke




--
Site Owner

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

updated by @strumelia: 02/06/18 10:14:19AM
Jim Fawcett
Jim Fawcett
@jim-fawcett
2 months ago
133 posts
Good idea, Ken. A good way to kick start the memory.


--
Site Moderator
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
2 months ago
1,662 posts

I keep a "repertoire list" of a couple hundred songs with the first measure or so of tab for each.

Jim Fawcett
Jim Fawcett
@jim-fawcett
2 months ago
133 posts

Dusty Turtle:

I look forward to hearing your new song, Robin!

 

Jim, I had to look this stuff up.  You are close. There's an episode of The Waltons in which the parents sing The Old Spinning Wheel to Elizabeth.   And there's another episode when John Boy sings Red Rosy Bush accompanied by a dulcimer.  Here's The Old Spinning Wheel and here's Red Rosy Bush.

 

I decided to start keeping a list of the songs I play and to periodically go over the list and make sure I can still play them.  It's frustrating when you "lose" songs you used to play.

Dusty, I'm in the ball park, anyway. I knew it was a song I heard on The Walton's and I remember that John Boy played the dulcimer. For me I was 2 for 2...LOLdulcimer

But it is a very easy listening song and from the time I heard it I wanted to learn how to play it.




--
Site Moderator

updated by @jim-fawcett: 02/06/18 05:46:15AM
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
2 months ago
441 posts

Currently learning Castle of Dromore, an arrangement by Sarah Morgan.




--
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
2 months ago
441 posts

Dusty, I keep an ongoing alphabetized list on my computer and add new ones to it frequently.  I really should have the ones that need some extra practice in red, though, so I can review them more often.  And, sadly, there are some that just seem to slip away...I should probably have a "holding pen" for those titles, because maybe I can learn them again.  The ones on my list are all ones that I have "in my head" and don't use tab for.  I think everybody should start one of these lists, even if all you can put on it is Boil 'em Cabbage Down and Hot Cross Buns!




--
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
JenniferC
JenniferC
@jenniferc
2 months ago
41 posts
It sure is frustrating to lose songs you once could play, Dusty! I feel like this could be a topic in and of itself. I'm struggling right now to find a good method for practicing new songs, and still retain the ones I've learned. There are only so many hours in a day!
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 months ago
971 posts

I look forward to hearing your new song, Robin!

Jim, I had to look this stuff up.  You are close. There's an episode of The Waltons in which the parents sing The Old Spinning Wheel to Elizabeth.   And there's another episode when John Boy sings Red Rosy Bush accompanied by a dulcimer.  Here's The Old Spinning Wheel and here's Red Rosy Bush.

I decided to start keeping a list of the songs I play and to periodically go over the list and make sure I can still play them.  It's frustrating when you "lose" songs you used to play.




--
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

updated by @dusty-turtle: 02/06/18 02:12:31AM
Jim Fawcett
Jim Fawcett
@jim-fawcett
2 months ago
133 posts

I was looking through some of the songs and tunes I have, and I came across one that I played a while ago and had forgotten about. Now I'm starting from scratch learning it again. The Old Spinning Wheel. I heard it about three years ago on a rerun of The Walton's. I think John Boy was playing it on a dulcimer.




--
Site Moderator
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
2 months ago
952 posts

I've been working on a new tune called Sunday Creek-- I think I finally have something that sounds like a tune. :)




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Jan Potts
Jan Potts
@jan-potts
3 months ago
441 posts

I can't play as fast as I used to--and I think that's probably a good thing!

At Ky Music Week we have Fast Jams, Turtle Jams for those who prefer a slower pace, and Snail Jams for those new to jamming.  And, yep, Blinky makes an appearance at those slower jams!

I'm working on sorting music books...I've discovered some I didn't know I had!




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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
 
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