nick o'sullivan


Location: Sligo
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Amazing Grace

Artist: Nick O'Sullivan
Genre: Country
Duration: 00:02:56

Amazing Grace on Galax Dulcimer

02/05/19 05:21:40PM @strumelia:

Nick I like how sweet and textured this recording sounds- full of feeling. 

02/05/19 11:21:25AM @ariane:

Thank you very much for your explanations - this had been all clear for me for the noter drone style in general!

But my question was only concerning the Galax dulcimer playing style since it is tuned D-D-D-D and Nick mentioned: It means it can be heard quite easily in sessions, jams etc.  

I was just wondering if it means "to be heard quite easily" because of the 3 same tuned drone notes and its bigger seize or since one "could" use the noter on several of the D tuned strings so that the melody could be "heard quite easily".

But I understand now that also the Galax dulcimer is played in "normal" noter drone style. 

Thank you once again.

02/05/19 10:54:39AM @greg-gunner:

It is fairly standard to use the noter on just the melody string (or in some cases the double melody string).  As Strumelia states, part of the sound associated with the mountain dulcimer is the humming of the drones.  

In Galax Style (Key of D Unison Tuning: D-D-D-D), the string closest to you would be played with the noter and the D Major Scale would begin at the nut or zero fret.  The remaining three strings would drone the root note (D) of the D Major Scale.  

If you used the same tuning (D-D-D-D) and played in the Key of G Major, the string closest to you would be played with a noter and the G Major scale would begin at the 3rd fret.  The remaining three strings would drone the fifth note (D) of the G Major Scale.  

Remember, your drones normally consist of the root and/or fifth note of the scale being played, so your drones need to be tuned to the root note and/or fifth note of the relevant scale.


02/05/19 09:22:58AM @strumelia:

Ariane, you'd lose all the wonderful intervals that drone strings are intended to provide. I can't see much good reason to just treat all strings as the same melody string- IMHO it would not sound nearly as nice, and might even be annoying to listen to. I suggest letting the drone strings work their magic as they were meant to.  :)

02/05/19 07:24:59AM @ariane:

Thank you very much for your explanations on the galax dulcimer.

May I ask one more question (I hope it is not too stupid smile ):

Is it optional to the player to play with the noter on one, two or even all strings (since they are all tuned in the same note) - or is it a "normal" noter drone style playing with putting the noter just on the melody string(s) close to the player and having two strings open as drones?

Ken Longfield
02/04/19 07:03:11PM @ken-longfield:

Thanks for sharing, Nick. Good job.


"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

02/04/19 05:34:31PM @greg-gunner:

Galax style is usually associated with the extended Melton and Russell families, who built many of the large-bodied instruments so well-described by Nick.  Living practitioners of this style are Phyllis Gaskins (Who Learned from Raymond Melton) and Bonnie Russell (Daughter of Roscoe Russell).  Roscoe Russell, by the way, was married to one of the Melton women, if I'm not mistaken the sister of Raymond Melton.

Raymond Melton, in particular, used this style to play at break-neck speed along with area bluegrass bands.  The unison tuning (All 4 Strings Tuned in Unison) allowed the musician to play in more than one key without needing to retune.  

Today the term "Galax-Style Dulcimer" usually refers to the boat-shape instruments modeled after those made by the Meltons and Russells and includes unison tuning, noter played melody notes, and strumming with a goose or turkey quill.

Check out recordings by Bonnie Russell or Phyllis Gaskins to hear the style in full force.  Here are a couple:

nick o'sullivan
02/04/19 02:31:40PM @nick-osullivan:

Thanks for the kind comments folks!!

Ariane, the galax dulcimer is a type played around Galax VA. It has a very large body and all four strings are tuned to the same note at the same pitch in this case d. It means it can be heard quite easily in sessions, jams etc. 

02/04/19 11:34:37AM @ariane:

Such a beautiful sound and thoughtful playing, Nick. Could you possibly please tell me the difference of a galax dulcimer to a "normal" dulcimer - I was just googling but I have not found a satisfying answer in the internet?

Richard Streib
02/01/19 06:40:48PM @richard-streib:

Awesome Nick. So lovely. Thank you for sharing.

Robin Thompson
02/01/19 11:31:49AM @robin-thompson:

Beautifully expressive play of one of my favorite hymns, Nick.  

Steven Berger
02/01/19 10:34:13AM @steven-berger:

Well played, Nick! I like your version!