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Plucked and bowed psalteries

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katlaughing 19 Mar 01 - 06:35 PM
wysiwyg 19 Mar 01 - 06:52 PM
wysiwyg 19 Mar 01 - 07:02 PM
Deckman 19 Mar 01 - 09:30 PM
katlaughing 19 Mar 01 - 10:24 PM
GUEST,meadow muskat 20 Mar 01 - 12:37 AM
GUEST,wildlone 20 Mar 01 - 03:33 PM
katlaughing 20 Mar 01 - 06:19 PM
Deckman 20 Mar 01 - 10:36 PM
Sourdough 20 Mar 01 - 11:35 PM
GUEST,Meadow Muskrat 21 Mar 01 - 12:33 AM
katlaughing 21 Mar 01 - 02:32 AM
GUEST,Astorsen 21 Mar 01 - 08:00 AM
wildlone 21 Mar 01 - 02:38 PM
katlaughing 21 Mar 01 - 05:34 PM
wildlone 26 Mar 01 - 02:46 PM
katlaughing 26 Mar 01 - 03:16 PM
Lanfranc 26 Mar 01 - 04:13 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Mar 01 - 10:16 AM
wildlone 27 Mar 01 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Mar 01 - 10:03 PM
GUEST,californiaminstrels@hotmail.com 27 Mar 01 - 10:34 PM
wysiwyg 28 Mar 01 - 12:08 AM
katlaughing 28 Mar 01 - 12:14 AM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 28 Mar 01 - 02:51 PM
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Subject: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 06:35 PM

Anyone know of any good used ones for sale, of either, esp. plucked? Nothing fancy, just something to learn on?

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 06:52 PM

I can absolutely recommend the Music Maker you will find lurking in toy stores for about fifty bucks. But you will want to pull off the plinky, harsh strings that are put on in a completely uselss fashion, and replace them with good wound looop-end strings. You will get good tone, two octaves, and be able to play O'Carolan pieces diatonically with these. Not much volume-- but it's great miked. Have not tried pickups yet.

These are wonderful to play in quet settings, too, if you play it facing up at yourself-- you get almost all the sound. Many happy moments lying in sunlight soaking up sound and full spectrum light. You can also play it in the crook of your arm, facing down and out, or held wide end up, facing out and down, resting between your thighs. The older ones and the new kits were curved to fit that way.

If you are playing by yourself, you can call the lowest string }do} and play as though in any key, with maybe a string retuned to catch some minor keys or odd modes.

Also there are kits to make your own. We had a good description and links in another thread. I'll go find it.

But I have two of these, both all restrung, and only use one. The other I usually lend out, and it is not now out on loan. If you would like to borrow one on long-term loan, which simply means don't alter or give it away without asking, just PM me with an address. I'd be very happy to send it later this week.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: wysiwyg
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 07:02 PM

Here's the old thread. Loaded with info.

CLICK HERE.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: Deckman
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 09:30 PM

Kat ... your thread makes me remember Fiddler and Ethel Beers. Did you ever have the chance to meet them? Cheers, deckman


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: katlaughing
Date: 19 Mar 01 - 10:24 PM

Deckman, until Mudcat, my knowledge of folkies was pretty limited to PPM, KTrio, Burl Ives, and my daddy:-) PLEASE, tell us about them?


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: GUEST,meadow muskat
Date: 20 Mar 01 - 12:37 AM

Deckman-Your mention of Bob Fiddler and Evelyn Beers brought back a Flood of Memories.I first saw them at a Folk Music society of N.J. at now defunct Upsala University in the late sixties.After that there were many memorable August weekends at the Fox Hollow Festival at their farm in Peterburg N.Y.Bob could really coax some beautiful music from his plucked psaltery. He used to mention the craftsman who built it, perhaps one of the Fox Hollow veterans would remember it.I remember some other members of the Beers and Boyer family also used to play the psaltery.I've often wondered if the family members kept performing.Id heard one of the Boyer sisters was a classical violinist, but never heard about any of the other family members, including Marti, Bob and Evelyns daughter.One last thought-I think ther is a Fox Hollow Museum on the Campus of R.P.I. in or near Troy, N.Y


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: GUEST,wildlone
Date: 20 Mar 01 - 03:33 PM

had to reinstall windows
Shame you are not in the Dorset/Somerset region kat, there is a great shop in Castle Cary that sells good new and used instruments cheap. I am getting a Portugeese instrument 10 string double coursed can be tuned several ways I am having guitar strings fitted and set up, should be ready at the weekend not bad at £100.
I got myself a mountain dulcimer last weekend,again the price was not to bad, am learning a few tunes from The Cripple Creek Dulcimer book by Bud and Donna Ford I got from the local libary.
hope you find a good psaltery.
dave, off to reset his cookie


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: katlaughing
Date: 20 Mar 01 - 06:19 PM

Dave! Kewl! I've had my mountain dulcimore/mer for about a month now and I still just love playing it. That shop sounds really great. It's going to be awhile before I can get one, but I do intend to keep an eye out for one to buy. I did go ahead and order a psaltery bow from Elderly to use on my dulci instead of my fiddle bow.:-)

Hey, deckman, meadow muskat and others, please tell us more?!


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: Deckman
Date: 20 Mar 01 - 10:36 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: Sourdough
Date: 20 Mar 01 - 11:35 PM

I was really lucky to have had the chance to be a kind of assistant to Fiddler Beers around 1960 at the Indian Neck Folk Festival and spent a coupleof days hanging out around him If I remember correctly, his psaltery had rather nice turned legs and seemed quite sturdy. When I mentioned that, he said that the psaltery had been brought around the Horn by one of his ancestors.

I bought the Beers Famly record when it came out and I still have it and enjoy it a great deal. It was my introduction to fiddlesticks and to limberjacks as well as some very tasteful music.

The last time I saw the Beers family was when they appeared on the Today Show. I was excited to see them there and then terribly saddened to hear for Fiddler Beers' premature death.

I do have a question about psalteries. I had never seen one before I met Fiddler Beers but I later saw hammered dulcimers. To me, they didn't look different but m memory of the psaltery was fairly non-specific. Are they the same, related, or quite separate instruments.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: GUEST,Meadow Muskrat
Date: 21 Mar 01 - 12:33 AM

I'm not an instrument historian but I suspect the hammered dulcimer and plucked psaltery must be related on some level. The hammered dulcimer originated in the middle east and versions of it are found all over the world.There is a heavy duty concert version from Hungary called a cimbalom, complete with foot pedals, that looked a lot like Bob Beers Psaltery, to the best of my recollection. On another level the Fox Hollow Festival which Bob ran on his farm in N.Y. state was a launching pad for the revival of the hammered dulcimer, with people like Bill Spence, Walt Michaels and others. It just occurred to me that Bill Spence might know some particulars about BoB's Psaltery. They appeared to be friends and Bill was a craftsman as well as musician. He is associated with Andy's Front Hall and the Old Song Festival, A really Great traditional music fest near Albany,N.Y in June.Both have Websites. I'd love to hear any anecdotes about the Fox Hollow festival or the BeerS or Boyer families. Kat-tell me about your bowed lap dulcimer.That"s a new one on me.


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Mar 01 - 02:32 AM

LOL, Meadow Muskrat...I was just messing around, using my fiddle bow on my mountain dulcimore. In Jean Ritchie's "The Dulcimore Book" there is a picture of an old woman named Leah Smith. It is a beautiful and poignant picture, side-view of her, white hair up in a bun, long-sleeved, floor length gingham or calico dress, wiht long white apron over it. Her head is bowed and kind of cocked, as though she is listening better with one ear. Its neck resting on a table in front of her, her dulcimer extends into her lap. She is using a noter on it with her left hand and bowing it with her right. She is sitting in front of a four-paned window in which the leaves of trees are reflected and possibly the photographer; t is hard to tell. The dulcimer is quite a bit larger than mine and Jean does make mention of the older ones being this way.

Anyway...I decided if she could do it, so must I and I love the sound. It doesn't have a lot of volume, but everyone on Paltalk said they heard it fine the other night when I played it with my microphone up close. See, when you are out on your own, isolated, with no teachers but books and this forum, there is none of this "you can't do that" or "it's always been done this way." so, you can come up with crazy things like bowed lap dulcimore! **Big Grin**

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: GUEST,Astorsen
Date: 21 Mar 01 - 08:00 AM

Aparently, psalteries were used first in religious music, strings facing up so that the music would go directly towards heavens. That's what I read some 30 years ago wen i started being interested in middle age music. The idea of bowing it might be an idea from the renaissance.

I found my bowed psaltery in the mid 80s, in a shop located in the south of France, in the "desert" (La Bastide something). It is a 2 octave fully chromatic and i still enjoy its sound from time to time...

I am not sure about the parenthood between psalteries and hammered dulcimers as they do not rely on the same way of generating the sound: bowing and plucking on one hand and striking on the other...

Salut,

JL


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: wildlone
Date: 21 Mar 01 - 02:38 PM

I will have to try using a bow on my dulcimer/more I did not know of any other spelling.
Indeed the shop has got some3 strange stuff in it including an Indian variant to the hammered dulcimer with its strings arranged in courses of 4 with over 20 notes try tuning that lot.
dave


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: katlaughing
Date: 21 Mar 01 - 05:34 PM

Dave, I didn't know about the spelling either, until I saw mention of it in Jean's book. I think the "dulcimore" is probably an older way of spelling it. Do try a bow...it is just a hauntingly beautiful voice that way.

JL, thank you for your very interesting post.

kat


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: wildlone
Date: 26 Mar 01 - 02:46 PM

I picked up the new "box" and after looking around the web I found out what it is on this site Click here
it is a cuatro, an instrument whose volume is not governed by size if any one has any tunings I would be interested.
dave


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Mar 01 - 03:16 PM

Dave, do you read Spanish? I found some tab sites, it looked like, for the cuarto, but all in Spanish. I also found some sites which said it was an important component of llanero (cowboy) music in Venezuela. I'll ask Rog if he saw any while he was down there. He loved listening to the llaneros and came back with a couple of tapes of their music.

It, evidently, is important to some Puerto Rican music, too, according to this:

"Cuatro - A small, ten-stringed guitar, one of the many guitar variants to be found in Spain and Latin America. The cuatro is a major instrument in Puerto Rican jibaro country music."

Nothing on tunings, though. Good luck!

kat


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: Lanfranc
Date: 26 Mar 01 - 04:13 PM

My mountain dulcimer was made in Palma, Mallorca by George Bowden from plans obtained from a sailor in the US fleet. As far as I know it was the only one he made. My Bowed Psaltery was made by my friend, Chris Harvey, from wood rescued from the bottom of his brother's ferret cage. Took a while to get rid of the smell of ferret, but it's done pretty well for the last 26 years. Chris still makes instruments, and, if you're interested, I could provide his contact details - he would no doubt make a plucked (pignose?) or bowed psaltery to order.

But he's in Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK, and I suspect that Kat is in the US, so this will probably only be of use to any UK 'catters who might be interested - Chris has done export orders before, for harps and dulcimers, but it all adds to the cost.


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 10:16 AM

A plucked psaltery may be fine, but have you ever heard a bowed psaltery? If so, why do you want one? I have heard them from two sources, and the main effect of a bowed psaltery is to loosen your fillings.

Both sources, (Cooper & Nelson and a recording from Iceland) make their pieces mercifully short, so it's obvious that I am not alone in this reaction.


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: wildlone
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 01:30 PM

A well made and set up bowed psaltery in the right hands sounds fantastic, but it can really get to some people I have found. I think it must be the high notes, one person once said it was like fingernails on a chalkboard but she loved the sound of my Ibenez accoustic{very loud in the bass}.
kat I do not speak or read spanish but bablefish can translate web pages, I searched using copernic and came up with some good sites.
dave


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 10:03 PM

Okayeee...if you say so.


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: GUEST,californiaminstrels@hotmail.com
Date: 27 Mar 01 - 10:34 PM

Kat et al--

If I may add two cents worth on the subject of cuatros-- I bought one about a year ago and since I was already struggling with banjo and mandolin, had not the strength to tune is as it ought to be and learn yet a third set of chords and scales. I had my resident instrument guru Alex tune it like my mandolin with the bass course at the same interval, so it's CGDAE. Sounds like an octave mandolin, with good tone all the way up the neck and great sustain for the small box. I am told the cuatro once had only four courses, hence the name, which now, with five courses, makes no sense. Alternatively, I understand from Groves that from the beginning (i.e., c.AD 1600) there were 5-coursed "Florentine" manodlins as well as 4-coursed Neopolitan ones. I'm told cuatros are not right now in Peru-Ecuador and also Dominican Rep. I also gather that there is a Mexican equivalent called a juapanga, but Mexican musicians hereabouts give me a blank stare if I ask about cuatros. Alex found me the correct cuatro tuning, but all I can remember is that the base course is not identical but a third interval, and fourth and third are octaves apart. When I get home I'll look it up and post it tomorrow. Your comments on bowing the mountain dulcimer are encouraging; I flat- and banjo-pick mine. I know they are sometimes bowed, but haven't tried that yet.

Mudcat forum is the greatest thing since the capo.

Chicken Charlie


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: wysiwyg
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 12:08 AM

Golly, Chicken Charlie, welcome! Join up, huh? What a great saying-- greatest thing since the capo. Good one!

~S~


And now, another shameless plug for the Mudcat FAQ Thread! No Mysteries Unsolved! Get Your Mudcat HTML Secret Decoder!IT'S EASY--JUST CLICK THIS for Your Free, All-Expenses Paid Mudcat Tour du Jour!


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: katlaughing
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 12:14 AM

ChickenLittle, that makes two of your very informed postings which I've enjyed very much. Thank you and do consider joining us, pleae? It's free and fairly harmless/painless.**BG**

Thanks for the info, too!

kat


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Subject: RE: Plucked and bowed psalteries
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 28 Mar 01 - 02:51 PM

You are all too kind. Actually I am not informed; I just work in a library. And now to business.

A cuatro should truly be tuned BEADG (across the fifth fret). The E's and the A's are octaves apart; the D's and G's are identical. The bass course is a FIFTH interval--someone wiser will tell us what not that is.

My cheating mandolin+bass tuning is CGDAE. Because of the shorter neck, figuring which strings to use was tricky, so here are the diameters Alex settled on after trials--octaves on the bottom three courses.

E: both .33 mm A: both .56 mm D: .91 and .46 G: 1.32 and .66 C: 1.42 and .86

We used D'Addario guitar strings.

I'm glad is someone finds this useful--but under "bowed dulcimers"--I guess that's what I'm learning to call "creep." Should this be re-posted to a "Cuatro" thread?? Thanks, I will consider joining, but I fear this could become addictive.

Chicken Charlie [or whatever type you fancy]


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