a 1994 Mt Airy jam with Don Pedi

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 weeks ago
1,368 posts

I'm just delighted Robin refers to a dulcimer as  "tool." That makes it so much easier to justify buying another one.  I must have a dozen hammers in my garage, so I should have at least that many dulcimers.

Don Pedi is an American treasure, that's for sure.  He both collects and plays the old music.  He's like the Seegers and the Lomaxes all rolled into one. 

In the 2012 picture to which Strumelia links, he is holding a Modern Mountain Dulcimer, which he seems to have been using for his main dulcimer for several years now.  It does indeed have both a 1+ and a 6+ fret.  Most of the still photos he uses for media stuff show trad dulcimers with friction tuners and no extra frets, but he makes practical use of modern innovations like geared tuners and extra frets.

What impresses me consistently in Don's playing is not the speed of his fingering-as impressive as it is--but his rhythmic strumming.  He never relies on a rote pattern but keeps tunes moving in a danceable and yet varied rhythm.




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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.
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Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
1,890 posts

Well said Robin!   nod




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
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Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
2 weeks ago
1,130 posts

Don plays so many wonderful old tunes, some of which he collected himself from people who have passed from this life.  How I would describe what Don does is he plays traditional tunes in an innovative style which conveys both the tunes and the spirit of the tunes as he collected them.  He uses the mountain dulcimer as a tool; like with any job, you want to use the tool which best fits the job.  Don is a treasure!     




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Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
1,890 posts

I also find it interesting that in the old video he has a 6.5, an 8.5, and a 13.5 fret... but not the 1.5 fret which is the lower mate to the 8.5.  Then in the 2012 photo you can see he's included the 1.5.  I too have both the 1.5 and the 6.5 (and their matching octave higher mates) on my dulcimers that i used a lot for oldtime jamming. There are many accidental notes in oldtime tunes, notes that pop up but don't necessarily change the mode or the key, so those extra frets come in handy for that kind of fast oldtime jamming. If playing simple tunes at home I might opt for a purely diatonic dulcimer and retuning more to match modes as I like. In festival jams you have little control of what everyone's doing and you have to be able to get into a key and mode fast or else drop out... so I find the extra frets solve that problem neatly.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 weeks ago
1,890 posts

Ok, so it looks and sounds as though he's tuned (from bass to melody) Aee. His tonic note A in on the third fret, which means in this case he is definitely playing in ionian mode. His bass string is not very heavy, but still looks heavier than the melody string, which is in keeping with his tuning it to the same A note as most DAd players use for their middle string. So, he likely had a string gauge for his bass string which was similar to the middle string of DAA or DAd players. Then, I'm thinking he had thin gauge (.010) for both his middle and melody strings, the enable him to tune them both up to high e.  I imagine he had a dulcimer for playing in the keys of A and G (Aee and Gdd), and another dulcimer for playing in the keys of D and C. That's what i typically do in oldtime jams myself.

I notice he has wooden tuning pegs on this dulcimer but had installed some of those cheap freestanding in-line fine tuners to get perfectly in tune. I tried those out once but found they tend to wobble all over and also ate into the strings, making them break more often. I am guessing he's moved more to geared tuners since this 1994 video, especially for festival jamming. Here's a photo of a dulcimer he used in 2012 for a house concert jam, showing geared tuners.




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Site Owner

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

updated by @strumelia: 02/09/21 11:47:39AM
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 weeks ago
1,890 posts

I'll try to figure the tuning later, but they're playing in the key of A in this session. (Brian tells me the fiddler is Ross Mohn.)




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
MacAodha
MacAodha
@macaodha
3 weeks ago
28 posts

Amazing. Any idea what tuning he is using on his dulcimer.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
3 weeks ago
1,890 posts

Dave Goldberg on banjo (with his head down most of the time), our good friend Deb Tankard on bass (she lives in Woodstock). Linda Baker on guitar in purple shirt (r.i.p. Linda).  I'm not sure who the main fiddler is.




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Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
3 weeks ago
1,368 posts

Don's playing is always stellar, and this clip is no exception.  Thanks for sharing this, Robin.

And for those players out there who fret with their thumbs, note the angle with which Don holds the dulcimer on his lap.  The strumming end is tight against his body, but the fretting end sticks way out over his knee. The instrument is not parallel on his lap. He needs that angle to be able to fret comfortably, especially up the fretboard.  You can see that angle best during the first 1:20 of the video.




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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
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
3 weeks ago
1,130 posts




--
Robin T
one of the Moderators here :)
Keep a song in your heart!