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Blues on hammered dulcimer???

SharonA 20 Jul 11 - 06:30 PM
The Sandman 20 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM
SharonA 20 Jul 11 - 07:17 PM
Bobert 20 Jul 11 - 09:32 PM
GUEST,leeneia 20 Jul 11 - 09:42 PM
PHJim 21 Jul 11 - 01:15 AM
The Sandman 21 Jul 11 - 05:52 AM
GUEST,Graham Bradshaw 21 Jul 11 - 06:25 AM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Jul 11 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 21 Jul 11 - 10:18 AM
SharonA 21 Jul 11 - 10:48 AM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Jul 11 - 11:25 AM
SharonA 23 Jul 11 - 07:00 PM
GUEST,leeneia 23 Jul 11 - 10:23 PM
Bobert 23 Jul 11 - 11:07 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 23 Jul 11 - 11:17 PM
GUEST,Banjer Al 24 Jul 11 - 10:23 AM
BanjoRay 24 Jul 11 - 12:14 PM
The Sandman 24 Jul 11 - 12:16 PM
SharonA 31 Jul 11 - 01:13 AM
Arthur_itus 31 Jul 11 - 02:15 AM
SharonA 31 Jul 11 - 09:15 AM
Stringsinger 31 Jul 11 - 11:14 AM
Arthur_itus 31 Jul 11 - 04:05 PM
Bobert 31 Jul 11 - 10:15 PM
SharonA 01 Aug 11 - 01:22 PM
The Sandman 01 Aug 11 - 01:26 PM
Bert 01 Aug 11 - 04:14 PM
Bert 01 Aug 11 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Auldtimer 01 Aug 11 - 05:33 PM
SharonA 06 Aug 11 - 12:23 PM
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Subject: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: SharonA
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 06:30 PM

Twice in the last week-and-a-half, I have been asked at jams whether I can play some blues on my hammered dulcimer. Being a novice HD player, I can't play much of anything on it yet! However, it is a chromatic HD, so ideally I could strike or pluck the necessary notes. The problem is, I can't easily bend the notes! Bending would require pushing down on the course of strings on the opposite side of the bridge from where I'd be striking or plucking. Seems like it would be kinda awkward to play any sort of a progression when I'd have to play every note with two hands...

But I could be wrong... maybe it's possible to do it and make it sound like the blues...

Anybody out there know any blues-HD players?


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM

you cant bend the notes on a piano, so what they do is play the third note lets say it was a g chord that would be b and then hit a b flat, as if they were two half notes but briefly ringing on against each other.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: SharonA
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 07:17 PM

Thanks for that suggestion, GSS. Such a thing can be accomplished on a hammered dulcimer with a technique called a "flam" -- basically playing a grace note with one hammer just before hitting another note with the other hammer. A flam is used with whole tones in Irish music, but there's no reason I couldn't try it with half tones to play blues.

I'd probably want to dampen the first half tone with the hammer or my finger so it wouldn't keep ringing (since I don't have dampers on my instrument). Can't help thinking that HD blues would work better on an instrument that does not have a long sustain.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: Bobert
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 09:32 PM

SharonA!!!

Not to worry... Blues ain't all about bending notes... Just 1-4-5 progression...

Find a key you are comfy with and then do the counting... Hey, it's the blues... Ain't gonna work yer purdy head no more than yer purdy head wants to get worked...

lol...

B~


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 20 Jul 11 - 09:42 PM

hi, Sharon. Here are a few bluesy tunes that I play on fretted dulcimer - an instrument with even fewer notes than a HD.

Since I met you baby http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxvFF1bQNu8

Peace in the valley - both tunes

Pack up your sorrows

Summertime from Porgy and Bess

Motherless child

Can't help but wonder where I'm bound

You don't have to bend notes to play the blues. I've heard many fine blues songs that didn't bend any notes.

These songs may require you to find a note in another scale than the one you started in. For example, if you are playing in G, you may need an E-flat (the blue note) which you can only get from some other scale.

Can this be done? Are you ready for this? It's no shame if you're not. If you take on too many challenges too soon, it could kill your love for the instrument. You can always just say, "Nope, no blues. I'm still working on my majors and minors."


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: PHJim
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 01:15 AM

I recall a festival in the nineties when Terry Tufts played Statesboro' Blues on slide guitar. The late Bernie Martin was also at the workshop and started to play back-up to Terry's blues. When the song was over I recall Terry saying,"That's the first time I've ever heard anyone play Chuck Berry licks on the Hammered Dulcimer."
It is possible.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 05:52 AM

music is a combination of notes and scales,plus the addition of emotion, logically there is no reason why a player cant play blues on a hammerer dulcimer if it can be done on a piano, they are instruments with similarities ,i have played blues on a concertina


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: GUEST,Graham Bradshaw
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 06:25 AM

The late great Jim Couza used to bend notes on his hammered dulcimer, and could play just about anything, including Blues.

Sadly missed.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 09:20 AM

I'd like to know WHY someone would ask a beginner HD player if she can play the blues. Is it an attempt at one-upmanship? Another example of the Great You-Shut-Up? Total ignorance?

It's like asking a flute player to do the Pizzicato Polka.

I now think that SharonA should just forget about it, master and enjoy her dulcimer, and maybe come back to the blues in a couple of years.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 10:18 AM

if I could afford to own a hammered dulcimer
I'd keep an ebow and solid heavy lap steel slide tone bar in reserve
for such occasions..

that'd teach 'em.......


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: SharonA
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 10:48 AM

Thanks, everyone, for the responses and the vote of confidence!

To answer Leeneia's question, the two people who asked me about playing blues are friends of mine, and they were asking in jam situations to see if I could join in. I guess I should have explained the circumstances. The first of the two events at which I was asked about blues-playing was our folk-song society's monthly meeting, during the general-jam portion of the meeting. There are a couple of rooms in the building where we meet, in which we can jam, and most folks had migrated to a jam in one room while I still had my HD set up in the other room. I was chatting with friends when a stand-up bass player with whom I sometimes perform (on guitar) came in. He wanted to jam on some of the blues songs we perform together, but I had not brought my guitar to the meeting. So, we tried a few basic 1-4-5 turns with the HD, but I wasn't "feeling the groove" as it were, and I gave it up. Maybe I'll be more comfortable with the idea as I become a more proficient player.

The second event was a party at which people were singing their original songs while other musicians jammed along. The friend who asked about the HD there was about to sing his own composition. In songs he had sung earlier that day, I noticed that he was making some unusual chord progressions that would have been difficult for me to follow on guitar, let alone HD. This, combined with my experience earlier in the week with my bass-playing colleague, led me to decline to try to jam along on this friend's blues song. Instead I wandered off to assist the person who was making the pizza-delivery order for the party.

So there you have it: no animosity, just curiosity.

As you say, Leeneia, I need to get a little closer to mastery of the instrument before I would feel able to play blues on HD that sounds like blues, and not like something that sounds incongruous with the "sweetness" normally associated with the HD.

Hmmm, an ebow and a tone bar, eh? That would help. I'll think about it... :-)

In the meantime, maybe I'll have a crack at that Pizzicato Polka tune!


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 11:25 AM

Okay! Thanks, Sharon.

Were you around when Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops knocked the musical world on its ear by recording a slow version of Pizzicato Polka? If the tune is playable on HD, it would be fun to do it both ways.

I think I can play another Strauss waltz on dulcimer: Roses from the South. You might like to try it.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: SharonA
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 07:00 PM

Was I "around" when the Boston Pops recorded a slow version of the Pizzicato Polka? I don't know; when did this happen?

Still seeking information on hammered dulcimer players playing blues... as well as tips about how to play HD blues!


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 10:23 PM

If you heard it, then you were around. If you didn't, then you weren't. I tried to find it on YouTube, but I couldn't.

Maybe I dreamed it.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: Bobert
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 11:07 PM

Ummmmm, please excuse me if I sound Mr. KnowItAll 'cause it don't....

I got my blues learnin' in Mississippi playin' in back country "picnics" and at an old barbershop in NE Washington, D.C...

The blues ain't about instrumentation... It's about the blues... Play it on an empty plastic bottle, a violin or a hammer dulcimer... If you got the blues in ya', it don't matter...

B~


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 11:17 PM

There are lots of different styles of blues. Some styles lend themselves to the HD, others don't. "St. Louis Blues" would probably make a great HD tune. "Shake 'Em on Down" probably wouldn't.

Also, how effectively you can transmit the emotional content of blues is going to depend a lot on the sound characteristics of individual instruments. Some HDs have a dark, piano-like sound that's probably be more suited to blues than a bright mandolin-like sound. And dampers would be a big plus as well.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: GUEST,Banjer Al
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 10:23 AM

To hear THE BEST on Hammered dulcimer - from Blackberry Blossoms to El Condor Pase via Ain't Misbehavin' hear Allan Freeman on CD or tape. Alan lives in Charleston, W.Va, USA, tho' he is from NY. Jimmy Driftwood described him as 'possibly the best hammered dulcimer player of all time...'   He playes a FIVE stringed one.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: BanjoRay
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 12:14 PM

Sorry, Guest Banjer Al, but Alan Freeman is a LAP dulcimer player, and a great one too.
See here

Thinking about it, you wouldn't be able to play many tunes on a five string Hammer dulcimer

Cheers
Ray


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 12:16 PM

spike drivers blues would probably work, as it is all based around variations of a g chord g7 g6 eminor, plus the bflat is played against a b natural


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: SharonA
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 01:13 AM

*refresh*


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 02:15 AM

Leeneia
Maclain Colsten, who is a brilliant HD player, gave me this website for a lady called Dizzi. Go to this website (which is very interesting and she is an expert on the HD)and ask her.

http://www.dizzi.co.uk/

otherwise have a look at Maclaine Colstens on this website http://www.brightyoungfolk.com/gigs/maclaine-colston-and-saul-rose/intro.aspx

Maclaine Colston and Saul Rose youtube


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: SharonA
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 09:15 AM

Hi, Arthur_itis! I'm not sure if you were responding to something Leeneia said, or to my original question, but if it's the latter, I must say that I find Dizzi's style to be improvisational but her tunes are not in what I would consider the blues genre. I'm on the left side of the Pond (in the US), and my sense of what constitutes "the blues" is very close to Bobert's.

Here is my dilemma: the incongruity (to my ear) between the very sound of the hammered dulcimer, as an instrument, and what (to my ear) is "the blues" or even a swing version or jazz version of "the blues". To give an example, compare the following YouTube videos:

"Limehouse Blues" by Django Reinhardt (in the Quintette du Hot Club de France)

"Limehouse Blues" as performed on hammered dulcimer

See what I mean? The HD player is playing the tune, but without syncopation, and in an Appalachian performing style complete with two-note chords, rolls (where the hammer bounces on one note), the arpeggio at the end of the phrase, etc. Her rendition sounds "sweet" but IMO it ain't blues.

Of course, the Hot Club of France version contains improvisations with a lot of chromatic notes that are not found on the standard diatonic HD. I have what is called a "chromatic hammered dulcimer" which is basically tuned like a diatonic HD but has extra bridges that give me access to sharps and flats not found on the standard instrument -- but it is not tuned like a "piano dulcimer" or a Hackbrett (where one plays up the chromatic scale by literally playing "up" the strings from the bottom of the instrument to the top). With my HD, I could play the single notes that Django plays on guitar (but, of course, not anywhere near as fast 'cause I'm not that good!) (and, of course, imitating the guitar chords would be out of the question because one can't hit that many notes at one time with hammers), but basically it would sound like a syncopated version of what the lady in the video played because of the timbre and the sustain of the instrument.

What Bee-dubya-ell said on 23 Jul 11 - 11:17pm is so true: "Some [blues] styles lend themselves to the HD, others don't.... Also, how effectively you can transmit the emotional content of blues is going to depend a lot on the sound characteristics of individual instruments. Some HDs have a dark, piano-like sound that's probably be more suited to blues than a bright mandolin-like sound. And dampers would be a big plus as well."

For anyone who doesn't know what HD dampers are, here's a video where they can be clearly seen "in action", though briefly, and their effect can be heard. They are above the strings along the two "sides of the trapezoid", as it were, and a foot pedal is used to push them against the strings to dampen the strings and allow for a staccato effect. Dan Landrum (using glow sticks on his hammers)

You'll hear that Dan can even do a little bit of note-bending (at 0:50 in the video).

To see the damper pedals in action, see "Billie Jean/Moondance" performed by Dan Landrum and Stephen Humphries (with note bending by Stephen at 1:38). The "Moondance" segment of this medley, from 2:55 to 3:47, is the closest thing I've seen/heard to what I'd consider HD blues... but it's still sooooo... I dunno... "clean"-sounding.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 11:14 AM

Great if you can find a way to bend a string or pitch. Vibes can do this, check out the best including Gary Burton.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 04:05 PM

Sharon
What I meant was ask Dizzy your question. She is so experienced, I am sure she will know exactly what you are trying to acheive.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: Bobert
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 10:15 PM

Oh, screw it...

Ya' either understand the blues and have it inside you or you don't...

B~


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: SharonA
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 01:22 PM

Aw, c'mon, Bobert... sure I have the blues inside me! I will send you a PM with links to a couple of my songs on YouTube (accompanying myself on guitar); you be the judge.

My question in this thread is whether the hammered dulcimer is an instrument on which the blues can be played at all, and, if so, in what way the blues could be played on HD to its maximum effect.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: The Sandman
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 01:26 PM

yes, it should be. treat it like piano, they cannot bend notes on piano but achieve similiar effect in way i described earlier, take the third note of chord and play the flattened note either shortly before or after the HD IS BASICALLY THE INSIDE OF A PIANO


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: Bert
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 04:14 PM

You might want to try to get hold of, or make a Santur. Each course of strings has its own moveable bridge.

It is designed to play Middle Eastern Music, some of which has quarter tones.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: Bert
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 04:16 PM

There's one here

Scroll down a bit.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 05:33 PM

(HD IS BASICALLY THE INSIDE OF A PIANO)

That's why in, days gone by, hammered dulcimers were sometimes refered to as piano dulcimers.


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Subject: RE: Blues on hammered dulcimer???
From: SharonA
Date: 06 Aug 11 - 12:23 PM

There still is such a thing as a "piano dulcimer" but it's a hammered dulcimer with a different bridge configuration and a different tuning. Dusty Strings actually calls its PD30 and PD40 models "piano dulcimers"; the PD30 has one bridge in the middle of the instrument, and one plays up the chromatic scale by literally playing up the bridge from bottom to top, with each succeeding chromatic note located on the opposite side of the bridge from the chromatic note before it. In other words, you'd play a G on the left side of the bridge, a G# on the right side, an A on the left side, and so forth. The PD40 adds two more bridges, one on each side of the central bridge, to offer an extra octave; there again, one must alternate sides to play up the chromatic scale (G at the leftmost bridge, G# at the rightmost bridge, A at the leftmost bridge, etc.).

Then there's the Hackbrett, similar to the piano dulcimer in that one plays up a chromatic scale by playing up the instrument from bottom to top. The difference here is that the Hackbrett has two bridges, each located near the pinblocks (the part of the instrument where the tuning pins and hitch pins are located). There again (again), one must alternate sides to play up the chromatic scale (G at the leftmost bridge, G# at the rightmost bridge, A at the leftmost bridge, etc.).

The standard hammered dulcimer, however, is tuned to a diatonic scale.... or, more accurately, to succeeding diatonic scales. A chromatic hammered dulcimer is tuned the same but has extra bridges for the sharps and flats not found on the standard model. Makes it more challenging to play up the chromatic scale!


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