Strumelia
Strumelia
@strumelia
2 years ago
1,769 posts

Stephen Seifert:

...It's not the only way to strum but I think it's the best FIRST way to strum: ALTERNATE STRUMMING. The exceptions come next. 

Stephen can you elaborate on this? I'm not sure exactly what you mean by 'alternate strumming' and 'exceptions'... sounds intriguing!

Myself, I tend to keep my strumming motions going even when not hitting the strings.. and I don't usually like it much when players slowly speed up tunes ...maybe I'm old fashioned or something, but it feels vaguely 'disturbing' to me somehow. think




--
Site Owner

Those irritated by grain of sand best avoid beach.
-Strumelia proverb c.1990
Stephen Seifert
Stephen Seifert
@stephen-seifert
2 years ago
23 posts

If your strumming motions aren't moving to the beat and it's subdivisions when you're NOT hitting the strings, you can end up dragging or rushing. Must people that strum like this rush. It's not the only way to strum but I think it's the best FIRST way to strum: ALTERNATE STRUMMING. The exceptions come next. 

Terry Wilson
Terry Wilson
@terry-wilson
2 years ago
296 posts
Except for playing along with my son and grandson in our home, I've never had the opportunity to play in a group that included guitars and banjos.

But twice I drove around 100 miles to play with a club, that included a harmonica player and two ukuleles, and perhaps eight dulcimer players.

This worked really well. My take on things, was there was no instrument that drowned out the dulcimers.

There was one guy, who was really good, sat where all could see him. He was playing a self built banjo dulcimer, that he mufflered. With this, most all kept the same timing and beat.
Bill Robison
Bill Robison
@bill-robison
2 years ago
6 posts

Thanks for the suggestions, We had a practice Tuesday with 14 players and the four guitars were side by side, with the 10 dulcimer players in a tight circle inside. Even with the new songs we tried, it worked very well

Bill R

Lisa Golladay
Lisa Golladay
@lisa-golladay
2 years ago
101 posts

Somebody leads.  Different people can lead different songs if you like, but figure it out before the gig.  There's nothing worse than a bunch of musicians looking at each other like deer in the headlights, waiting for somebody, anybody to count them in.  Do not ask me how I know this!  I got so fed up with one group that I made buttons saying:

I'M THE ONE WHO CAN COUNT TO 4

and handed one out before every gig.  The leader must be fearless, ready to jump in and count the beats and name the chords like Dusty says.  "Back to the A part, three, four, here we go..."  Leading a group is a skill that takes practice, like any other skill.  Following a leader is also a skill to practice.  This could be a goal for club meetings.

One option is to get a bass player... or a drummer (one drummer)... to keep the tempo.  You need an instrument with a sound that stands out from the rest of the group so everyone can hear it.  A banjo (or a dulci-banjo) might do the trick.  If all else fails, sit someone down in the middle of the group with a 5-gallon plastic bucket and pound the beat.  Then the problem is to find the right bass/drum/banjo player.  I've been stuck with bassists who can't keep a steady rhythm and bassists who play the wrong rhythm (this is a waltz, you idiot).  If the bass has the wrong tempo there's nothing anyone else can do to save the tune because in a group with 3 dulcimers and one bass, the bass wins. 

Once you get more than 6 MD players, as Bill describes, I think you've reached the point where somebody has to conduct.  If one side is getting ahead of the other, that means they can't all hear each other.  Which means they need a visual indication -- tapping foot, waving hand.  I think pulling out a conductor's baton would be a funny bit of shtick for the audience. 

I have played gigs where we had to watch each others' strumming hands because nobody could hear the beat.  That doesn't work so well for beginners who still need to look at their fretboards, and it's hard to manage if people are using tab.  At least be sure you're sitting close together and in a semi-circle so you can all see each other.

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
2 years ago
1,256 posts

I actually like all the suggestions here.  I've found in jams that it's important to have a clear leader for each tune.  That person counts out the first measure and determines the tempo.  Everyone else should follow that person.  It also helps if that person or a surrogate taps their feet loudly and plays the role of conductor.  

If there is a real disconnect, it may be that someone has to take a more active approach. In my monthly dulcimer group, I will sometimes start counting beats out loud and giving cues to where we are: "2-3-4- third line" or "3-4 A chord" or  whatever to get people in sync.

And sometimes a private conversation may be necessary.  I have a tendency to speed up as I play. One person in my local group always plays too fast.  But one day I spoke with her privately, explaining that we both had the same bad tendency and asking for her help in slowing down and following the tempo of the rest of the group.  That conversation made her a better player with out my having to insult her in any way.

But as a general rule, every orchestra needs a conductor. Whether that's the rhythm guitar as Randy suggests, someone taping their foot, or another leader of some sort.




--
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 years ago
1,769 posts

I like Randy's suggestion- so the main rhythm leaders can better keep all together!




--
Site Owner

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

Someone whom all can see, blatantly tapping a foot to follow!

 

Randy Adams
Randy Adams
@randy-adams
2 years ago
95 posts
Bill
Try keeping the guitars and any other rhthym instruments near each other so they can hear one another.
Bill Robison
Bill Robison
@bill-robison
2 years ago
6 posts

 I belong to 3 central Indiana dulcimer groups and we often play together at local events. 

The problem arises when we have more than  6 or 8 players. Some players are advanced others relative beginners.

Usually we have at least 1 or 2 guitar players but still have problems with group sync in the larger group. Do you pick some one to lead and everyone follow them? One side of the group will end  up a note or two behind or ahead of the other side . We don't use electronics so it is difficult, especially outside to keep everyone together. Other that very frequent practice, does anyone have suggestions?  We play together weekly with portions of each group involved 

Bill Robison


updated by @bill-robison: 10/27/19 12:02:25PM