Is there someplace I can find the tunings for tunes that could/should be played other than DAdd/DAaa?

Skip
Skip
@skip
8 years ago
251 posts

Not confused, just relating to, andintegratingthe info.

Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
8 years ago
243 posts

If you play in dulcimer jams, you may find most songs are played in D. If you go to jams with fiddle or banjo players, you will find that most songs are played in specific keys. As said above, these usually are dictated by where the tune falls easily on the fiddle, or in some cases, on the banjo. Bluegrass players tend to use the same keys as OT players, though a few keys that seldom are used in OT jams also come up. Song circles are more likely to have a wider variety of keys, as many players change the keys to suit their own vocal range. This can cause a lot of re tuning, as each person in the circle chooses the song & key in turn. I tend to take more than one instrument to song circles. Sunday I found myself using F several times, as there were a few ukulele players there. F is a common uke key. Not one I usually use on guitar or banjo, but we adapt with a capo. I don't think I ever tuned a dulcimer to F. I capoed the guitar for one song, and retuned the banjo for a couple. I didn't have a uke or dulcimer with me Sunday. I've seen a few harmonica players with a bag or box full of different harps. Seems even a chromatic harmonica still favors one or two keys, and doesn't do so well outside of those two.

Rock jams are very conscious of keys, as most players seem to believe in capturing the exact arrangement they heard on the radio, down to the last note of the solos. I never felt compelled to work that hard at learning a song, myself Are you fully confused now? Adapt to the jams you go to, but make sure you enjoy yourself.

Paul

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
8 years ago
1,769 posts

Skip don't feel bad...you are not alone in that aspect. Sometimes information runs out of my brain too, like a sieve!




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Skip
Skip
@skip
8 years ago
251 posts

Thank you folks. I've never bothered much with music until way after I retired. It's kind of like being a kid again with a neat [cool?], new toy [music] that I'm playing with, learning how it's put together and why it's used in a particular way. With the help of folks like y'all I've learned a whole lot. Sometimes it doesn't stay with me or takes awhile to sink in though.Frown.gif

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

Excellent post Strel 113.gif

Skip, as explained, you really need to make up your mind if you're wanting to play on one string or three.
3 strings uses DAD mainly and it's up to you to make the appropriate chords by fingering. This is non modal tuning.
1 string uses the drones to make the chords for you,so retuning is a necessity. This is modal tuning.

Melody doesn't really use the sort of full TAB you have, but is more likely to be just a fret order, most people seem to play by ear anyway. The thing that's most important here is knowing the Home Fret(which fret the tune ends on)

There are only four Home Frets in regular use ( 0,1,3 and 4), so what you are asking for is four lists of tunes based on these frets.
As you say, this sort of info is scattered far and wide.
I used to keep lists like this but gave up after about 200, the problem with this sort of thing is that the majority of tunes can be played from more than one Home Fret, so any lists you make will be full of duplicate entries in differing lists. It's further complicated if you have a 6+, this essentially gives you a second diatonic fretboard supperimposed on the original and extends the number of Home Frets available, making it possible to have some tunes that can be played from all four of the Home Frets.

You'll more likely find it of use to have just one list of tunes giving the modes they can be played in.

john p

folkfan
@folkfan
8 years ago
363 posts

Skip, Ionian is a mode that can be played in C, D, E, A, B, G, or whatever pitch your dulcimer strings can hold. It is the note relationship to get the tuning that is important. 1-5-5 is the note relationship for Ionian. 1 shows the position on the scale and is tuned on the bass. I tune C so C will be my 1. Next is middle at the 5th pitch of the scale which in the key of C is G. and so with the melody string. My 1-5-5 is C-G-G. My tab for Brother John is 3453, 3453, 567,567, 787653,787653,303, 303. If I use the same 1-5-5 tuning pattern but start with D, then I'll tune DAA, but the tab for Brother John stays the same and the fretting doesn't change. The dulcimer does the transposing and gives you the correct sharps or flats needed for the key.

Since the key that the song or tune is being played in is strictly up to the player, I mark my tab with either just Ionian, or 1-5-5. CGG, DAA, GDD, AEE, In fact you don't even have to be on a key as we think of it simply a good pitch for your instrument to play. This is known as "tuning the instrument to itself".

Robin Clark
Robin Clark
@robin-clark
8 years ago
253 posts

Hi Skip,

There are session conventions for Old Time and Celtic sessions that place certain tunes in certain keys. This has usually occured because the tune falls easiest to the fingers on fiddle in that particular key. If you want to know that Old Joe Clark is an A mixolidian tune, or 'Shove the Pig's Foot' is a G ionian tune then the best place to look is in any fiddle book or on line somewhere like The Session http://www.thesession.org/ or Old Time Jam http://www.oldtimejam.com/Tunes.html

You'll find a few of us on FOTMD will play tunes in their usual session keys rather than just in D. This is because we play at open sessions where those tunes are played in those keys - so it is pragmatic to learn them in the standard session key. If you only play for yourself or at dulcimer jams then I would stick with the key of D and DAdd - it is the pragmatic thing to do in those circumstances. If you want to join in at multi-instrument old time jams then you will need to learn the tunes intheir standard sessionkeys. You can still do that primarily from DAdd if you are a C/M player, and some very good C/M players manage exactly that without a capo! For example: Old Joe Clark in A mixolidian works fine out of DAdd C/M style using 1,0,1 as your base.

You'll also find a few of us here on FOTMD tuning to keys that suit our instruments. I'll post tunes in their non-standard key because that specifictuning for that specific tune works tonally on the dulcimer I'm playing. Forexample: Ralph Lee Smith has a video on YouTube of him playing Sourwood Mountain (usually played as an A tune)on an old Pritchard dulcimer in the key of E. I emailed Ralph about this and he said it was because that dulcimer he had sounded good in E. I.D Stamper recordedSourwood Mountai in G on his small bodied dulcimer etc etc. I have ended up recording some very unusual tunings for tunes simply because I didn't have a tuner to hand and so tuned up my strings to 'a good note' !!!

Robin

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
8 years ago
1,769 posts

Strumelia; You pretty much described what I've seen, been involved with. Since your blog is read and referenced by a lot of folks, maybe you would consider adding a section to your blog that ties tunings, not tab, to tunes. These could be lifted from FOTMD posts. Eg.,Good King Wenceslas - Ionian - DAA.

Skip, the problem with what you suggest is that one can use several tunings or methods to play any particular tune or song, depending on one's style of playing and approach, and depending on what version of the song you hear. There is often more than one way to skin a cat. There is seldom only one strict tuning for a particular song or tune.

I cannot take on such a huge project or responsibility as deciding myself what tunings are 'proper' for so many tunes and songs. No matter how carefully it was put together, such a list would be loaded with mistakes, personal preferences, and would be missing alternative tuning choices.

It is far easier to simply learn how to figure out what tuning is needed for a particular song or tune.

Traditional ballads were sung in any key comfortable for the singer. Whether that ballad was 'major' or 'minor' sounding would dictate that you'd need to use either a minor type mode dulcimer tuning (aeolian or dorian), or more of a major type sounding tuning (mixolyd or ionian)- again, the notes and intervals used in a song's mode would dictate which mode you'd need to tune to to play it on a dulcimer....not the key. You still need to tune your dulcimer to a mode so that you have the needed notes to play the song, since the dulcimer is fretted diatonically, with missing notes in the spaces.

In general, you can easily look up fiddle tunes on several handy existing internet sites and see their 'home key' - whether they are traditionally played in the key of A or D on the fiddle for instance. Do you need someone to point you to a couple of those sites?

Old ballads/songs were sung in any key comfortable. Sometimes musicians play mainly instrumental versions and then they might adjust to a key that suits their instruments a little better, and the singer adjusts. Most fiddlers will not like playing in the keys of Bflat or E, for example, and fiddlers don't use capos.

I want to emphasize again to others reading this, that keys and modes are not the same thing. And when we tune our dulcimers, we are actually choosing BOTH a key and a mode, even if we don't realize it. Simplistically put, if a dulcimer player has no 6.5 fret and they tune to DAd, then they will likely be playing in the key of D, in mixolydian mode. If they have a 6.5, they will still be playing in D, but they can play in either mixol. or ionian mode. If they use the 6.5 when they are playing a tune in DAd tuning, then they are playing in ionian mode ...still in the key of D. Skip I bet you know that already but am stating it for other readers' benefit.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Skip
Skip
@skip
8 years ago
251 posts

I understand that part Ken. What I'm after is if there's a place I can find what tuning 'should' be used for a particular tune without 'reinventing the wheel' every time I want to play a new tune or even some I already know, in DAdd. How to determine modes has been discussed many times as has been the note relationship. I have a whole bunch of tab, almost all in DAdd, many are for tunes that have been described as being 'better', or should be played, in a different tuning. I didn't, and don't, know which tunes these are since almost everything that folks hand out, or post, is in DAdd tuning. I probably even have Good King Wenceslas somewhere, in DAdd.Smile.gif

It seems that someone, somewhere, someone has posted a, more or lesspermanent, list of tunes by tuning/mode that doesn't disappear over time. After all, you can find anything on the net, can't you?Grin.gif

I suspect the tab would be different since the notes available on the melody string are different, eg., DAdd doesn't have a C and DAcc does [so a tune is being played, basically, in D vs C when using the melody string only for the melody]. I also suspect the impact is not as strong for chord/melody players since they use all the strings and drones don't play as big a part in the tune.

Strumelia; You pretty much described what I've seen, been involved with. Since your blog is read and referenced by a lot of folks, maybe you would consider adding a section to your blog that ties tunings, not tab, to tunes. These could be lifted from FOTMD posts. Eg., Good King Wenceslas - Ionian - DAA.

I've read your blog in the past and learned a lot from it.

I have several MD's and I have, and had, them in various tunings, including 135, which I like alot.

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
8 years ago
1,769 posts

Skip, to answer your questions one cannot really toss out the subject of modes, because it is very much tied in with your questions- the dulcimer is a DIATONIC instrument, fretted in modes, and that aspect cannot be separated out no matter how much one might wish it to be.

But all that aside- a lot depends on what music one is playing, and whether one is playing in modern chord style or in traditional noter style.

Traditional fiddle tunes, for example are not all in the key of D! -as you likely know.

Over the past several decades a new dulcimer popularity and a new dulcimer 'industry' has occurred, but many dulcimer players nowadays have very limited musical confidence. They want to avoid re-tuning, and they prefer to play in just ONE key and one tuning or maybe two. They use capos, but even that only rarely. They don't really understand about changing tunings or keys, much less anything about modes. They are comfy playing in groups with only other players like themselves, all on dulcimers, all in D. They go to large festivals and workshops that mostly teach more of this method, and give out more tab to play all in D, and again mostly in one tuning and in chord style. So there is a system in place right now that encourages everyone to remain in D and in DAd and DAA and no one need 'fear' having to learn any other tunings. A big part of the fear of other tunings is because if you play in chord style , changing your tuning means you will have to learn different fingerings for chords....something most folks want to avoid. So that's one reason why folks who play in traditional noter style don't have as much reason to avoid using different tunings. They have learned the simple concept of tuning (their melody string only, not too complicated!) to one of 4 modes. Since re-tuning the melody string like this to play tunes in the 4 common modes seems to be such a shrouded mystery to most DAd chord players, I suppose it may make it seem as though the noter players are 'very, very adept'...but in reality is a real simple skill and no new 'fingerings' are required, which makes it even simpler!

Once you know how to tune into a mode, tuning to different keys is merely a matter of knowing what your strings limits are- where they will become just too tight and break, or too loose to play.

It's a big subject, and one I talk about a lot in my traditional noter playing BLOG.




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 years ago
1,739 posts

Skip; part of your answer does deal with Modes. Modes are scales, and each is different. It has nothing to do with Keys which are the basic note of the tuning - D, C, G etc. DAA is one of eight Ionian scales all of which have the notes - do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti, do. The Mixolydian scale is do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti-flat, do. Old Joe Clark, for example cannot be played on a dulcimer that does not have a 6+ fret unless you retune to DAd, because only then is there a ti-flat note in the scale. People who have 6+ frets on their dulcimer play both Ionian and the very few true Mixolydian tunes without re-tuning.

The other 'inappropriate tuning' also has to do with scales and their relationship to the drones. Take a perfectly good Ionian scale tune like Good King Wenceslas, that needs only do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti and do.

Skip
Skip
@skip
8 years ago
251 posts

Folks here and on ED talk about retuning to play various tunes and comments have been made concerning the tuning that 'should' be used for a tune. I have a few of questions about this;

1. Where can I go to find the other than DAD/DAA tuning that 'should' be used or is recommended for these tunes that are being played in the 'inappropriate' [DAdd/DAaa] tuning?

2. Why are these tunings recommended? Because it 'fits' the sound of a strummed, N/D, instrument? What if the MD is being flatpicked or C/M?I'm not interested in mode related reasons because they, mostly, have been discussed before.

3. If I find SMN for one of these tunes will it the be in a different key [original] andthey have been 'converted' to D for the convenience of MD players/instructors?[Everyone knows the MD can only play in D.29.gif ]

I have never been around anyone who actually retuned, jam session, fest or anywhere else. It seems everyone in the group sessions I've been to, admittedly not that many, is in D and no one wants to take the time to retune, it slows the session down too much. Not even if they knew the tuning 'should/could' be different. It also seems most of the folks espousing retuning play solo or are very, very adept players [or have more than one MD Smile.gif ].


updated by @skip: 06/11/15 07:32:36AM