Gwen Caeli


Location: Spartanburg, SC
Country: US

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youtube videos: 12
audio tracks: 2

Dulcimer-banjo - Snake River Reel, contra- dance tune

musician/member name: Entertainment
Duration: 00:02:15
I l "catched" this old-time contra dance reel from old-time musician Dr. John Kelley, who "catched" it from old-time musician Dan Levenson. It was written in the early 1970's by traditional musician and dance caller Peter Lippincott.

The dulcimer tab in DADD tuning can be found at
Oliver Ogden
04/03/16 11:18:24PM @oliver-ogden:

Gwen, the Lancaster Dulcimer group meets the 1st and 3rd sat morning and the 3rd wed night. July 8th and 9th we are holding our Dutchland Dulcimer Gathering with Bing Futch, Dave Hass,and others for workshops and a concert.

Gwen Caeli
04/03/16 04:38:53PM @gwen-caeli:

Thanks, Oliver!  Banjo-Mer and panflute sure are a far cry from each other, aren't they?!  I'll try and work on some other stuff with them.  When does the Lancaster dulcimer group meet?  I may be in close-by Millersville this summer for about a week.

Oliver Ogden
04/03/16 01:46:00PM @oliver-ogden:

Gwen ,love it sounded real nice. I loved the sound of your instrument, I have one of Mike Clemmer's banjammer's and do enjoy it.I would like see more of your videos with the Banjo-mer and also your use of the pan Flute. thanks

Gwen Caeli
04/01/16 10:58:19AM @gwen-caeli:

There was a Schnaufer/Siefert/Caeli faculty lineup at a dulcimer festival years ago at a living history village and during a break, David showed me the Banjo-Mer provided to him.  Being a new concept, he was experimenting with best ways of playing it and asked me to try it.

During a break, we sat on tree stumps outside the old schoolhouse and tried different tunings.  He said he thought that it seemed to work best in DGD tuning, where we are playing in the Key of G (like banjos!!).  We tried several tunings/styles, and I ended up agreeing with him.  The reason being, the dulcimer's melody string is our highest pitched of the three strings.  But, a banjo's highest pitched 5th string is used mostly as a drone, not a melody string. So, dulcimer needed to move the melody down in pitch, essentially moving to a 'new' melody string.  DGD tuning placed it in the correct pitch.

As we know, in 'dulcimer DGD tuning' the middle string now becomes a lower-pitched melody string (a 'reverse Ionian') in Key of G (like banjos!!).  So, the melody of this tune comes from the middle string going into the bass string. Only in the higher-pitched 'B' part does it go up to the melody string. The entire octave scale (and this tune) is played between fret 0 up to fret 3 going across the strings. Going up the fretboard from fret 0 to 7 in DAD tuning is a long way to travel for banjo tunes and too easy to lose the necessary rhythm momentum. Most importantly, the higher pitched DAD on banjo dulcimers makes cats howl!!banjo

joe sanguinette
04/01/16 03:05:20AM @joe-sanguinette:

gregg........doug is a friend of mine.  he worked in my booth in several harvest festivals in so calif in the

80's and 90's.  his banjamers were the first i ever saw.  David Schnaufer played one.

Gwen Caeli
03/31/16 08:30:17PM @gwen-caeli:

Thanks for your feedback, Benjamin,Terry, Salt-Springs and Lexie! I am more encouraged now to keep working in this direction with this unusual type of dulcimer.  

Hi again, Gregg!  That's great that you sometimes run into Doug Thomson - I'm jealous. Glad to hear he is doing well and still making Banjo-Mers.  You two make me miss  Southern California - if you ever go to Pepper's Mexican Grill in Arcadia, eat a taco for me.

Thanks, Sean, small world that you knew Pete L. back in the day!  He is so gifted in music and art - a great combination. 

Lexie R Oakley
03/31/16 01:23:57PM @lexie-r-oakley:

I enjoy that banjo picking style and it sounds great. Really fun style and glad your having fun experimenting with it. 

Sean Ruprecht-Belt
03/31/16 11:10:51AM @sean-belt:

Well done! Pete Lippincott is a friend from back in the old days here in St. Louis. He'd be proud of the way you've played his tune.

Salt Springs
03/31/16 10:47:26AM @salt-springs:

Now that be a Jim Dandy tune.................glory..... you sure can play that thing right well.

Gregg Schneeman
03/31/16 08:50:32AM @gregg-schneeman:

I talked to Doug Thompson at his booth at Harvest of Dulcimers this last October and he's still building and doing fine.

Terry Wilson
03/31/16 08:25:12AM @terry-wilson:

I 2nd Benjamins beautiful.

Gwen Caeli
03/30/16 10:39:45PM @gwen-caeli:

This "Banjo-Mer" was made by Doug Thomson, one of the original banjo-dulcimer builders, who spent years researching this kind of hybrid.  After experimenting with the sound and best playing styles, I am of the opinion that these should be considered a "BANJO", not a "Dulcimer" - it just has a dulcimer fret pattern.  Therefore, not best dulcimer-strummed, unless you are doing really fast Dixieland/Tin Pan Alley/ragtime/jazz tunes in 2/4 time as a backup strum, as in "Has Anybody Seen My Gal".

Making the strings sound with folk fingerstyle pattern-picking seems to make the melody pop out (i.e. Pete Seeger). Three-finger melodic bluegrass pattern-picking works great also, or Irish banjo flat-picking style with fast 2/4 time arpeggiated notes. I find clawhammer/frailing techniques difficult, as the dulcimer, lying flat on the lap, is at an awkward angle to form the claw to strike the strings. It's fun to experiment!

Ben Barr Jr
03/30/16 09:58:51PM @benjamin-w-barr-jr: