Chromatic fret spacing on drone strings

nick o'sullivan
nick o'sullivan
@nick-osullivan
7 years ago
6 posts

And here's the dulcimer

de3.jpg

nick o'sullivan
nick o'sullivan
@nick-osullivan
7 years ago
6 posts

Here's a tune played on a dulcimer with diatonic/chromatic fretboard

Listen to Pastorale Michel Corrette by nickosullivan #np on #SoundCloud

https://soundcloud.com/nickosullivan/pastorale-michel-corrette

Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 years ago
2,233 posts

Here's one example of an Alpine region 'zither/dulcimer ancestor type' instrument from sometime around the turn of the century:

sl1600.jpg




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
7 years ago
2,233 posts

It's not that uncommon to see that kind of mixed diatonic/chromatic fret arrangement on folk traditional or older dulcimer ancestor instruments- Swedish hummels, French epinettes... The practice goes far back.  There are quite a few early mtn dulcimers with the arrangement, and J.J. Niles experimented with making such dulcimers as well.  Lots of musicians like having the option for those odd extra notes, without having a completely chromatic fretboard.

It helps to be fretting with the fingers rather than a noter if you want to be more nimble in getting the 'far' non-diatonic frets.  You can play tunes with any kind of accidentals in them, and you can play tunes that switch keys midstream without retuning... quite useful.




--
Site Owner

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

updated by @strumelia: 06/08/17 10:56:12PM
robert schuler
robert schuler
@robert-schuler
7 years ago
252 posts
Go on you tube and look for Jos Tilley. Scroll his channel and you will see many fine examples of European style zithers. Most have the type of fretboard your looking for. This guy is a fabulous zither player.. Robert
Lisa Golladay
Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
7 years ago
108 posts

There's a few on this page: http://www.davidbeede.com/octavedulcimers.htm

Take a look at the center dulcimer in that picture at the top right.  It looks like a royal pain to build and I see that David stopped offering that option.  If memory serves, he used to call it an "evil half-breed" fretboard.  I would love to have one just to see how people react!

I think the idea is that you can play the melody string without speed bumps, while accidentals are available on other strings if you need them.  In DAA (or any 1-5-5 tuning) it would make perfect sense to a piano player: white keys on the near string, both white and black keys on the middle string.  In DAd (1-5-1) you'd find the black keys shifted up a little higher on the fretboard but still the same idea.

Come to think of it, that fretboard looks a lot like a piano keyboard.  Short frets are the black keys.  It strikes me as a perfectly logical layout for someone who wants all the notes but isn't comfortable looking at (or sliding a noter across) a fully chromatic fretboard.

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
7 years ago
2,103 posts

Pictures, please!  If there's no photo, "it didn't happen"!!

wcjordan
@wcjordan
7 years ago
1 posts

Just saw a dulcimer that has chromatic spacing on the drone strings, and diatonic spacing on the melody strings. I've never seen this before. How is the chromatic spacing used? What are the limitations/benefits?