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Hammered Dulcimer

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Chicken Charlie 29 May 01 - 11:25 PM
DonMeixner 30 May 01 - 12:27 AM
Gypsy 30 May 01 - 11:24 AM
Sorcha 30 May 01 - 11:54 AM
catspaw49 30 May 01 - 12:27 PM
Jenny S 30 May 01 - 03:31 PM
Mike Byers 31 May 01 - 06:00 AM
Chicken Charlie 31 May 01 - 02:36 PM
Gypsy 01 Jun 01 - 12:29 AM
Mike Byers 01 Jun 01 - 12:40 AM
paddymac 01 Jun 01 - 04:14 AM
Jenny S 01 Jun 01 - 02:42 PM
Chicken Charlie 01 Jun 01 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,Claymore 01 Jun 01 - 05:12 PM
catspaw49 01 Jun 01 - 05:43 PM
Chicken Charlie 01 Jun 01 - 06:19 PM
Jenny S 02 Jun 01 - 11:26 AM
paddymac 02 Jun 01 - 11:51 AM
Chicken Charlie 02 Jun 01 - 01:25 PM
Kelticgrasshopper 02 Jun 01 - 07:05 PM
Yankee Gal 02 Jun 01 - 11:27 PM
Mike Byers 03 Jun 01 - 11:49 AM
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Subject: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 29 May 01 - 11:25 PM

As some of you will recall, I bought a h.d. a while back. Finally figured out the principle on which strings are added, so I could tune it (it's a 16/15) from a book on the 12/11. I messed with it for awhile (lovely instrument) and then loaned it to another member of my group who said he needed a challenge. He plays guitar and keyboards by ear. So he's catching on to the h.d. just fine--but he turns it around, high strings toward him instead of lows. His rationale is that that puts the bass on the left and the treble on the right like a piano.

Except for the fact that I have to sit here customerless for another fifteen minutes, I would not bother to post this, but now that I have--any comments from other dulcimerians??

CC


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: DonMeixner
Date: 30 May 01 - 12:27 AM

Charlie,

Its a what ever works situation. I have long felt that Autoharps ar left handed instruments and should be played upside down by lefties. That way the playing area would be insuch a position that the arms wouldn't cross over and there would be a better attack on the strings.

Don


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Gypsy
Date: 30 May 01 - 11:24 AM

Hmmmm....sounds pretty interesting. Don't have a clue how i would play my HD upside down...would have to relearn all the patterns. Oh yeah, the builder should've given you a tuning/gauge chart with the instrument.


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Sorcha
Date: 30 May 01 - 11:54 AM

No comments (I don't speak hammered dulcimer at all) except that it certainly is NOT BS......


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: catspaw49
Date: 30 May 01 - 12:27 PM

Well, I build 'em and it's no wackier than some of the relatives of the instrument like the santir. And, frankly, some of the chromatic arrangements are kinda' screwy too, so what the hell...........

BTW, Dusty Strings is selling a piano version of their own (actually the pet project of one guy) and I guess it's marketable...not the same arrangement, but yet again, something different.

I suppose it's not unlike Libba Cotton on guitar.......It's what you learn. At this point, it would screw most of us up just as Libba's technique would on guitar.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Jenny S
Date: 30 May 01 - 03:31 PM

Jim Couza and Maclean used to play one dulcimer between them - Jim at the bass end, Maclean at the treble end. And why not?!

PS have you tried playing with fingers (no hammers?) Hint - it helps if the strings are lower tension than "normal" (fingers fare better!) and preferably four strings per course for more adaptability, sound/technique-wise... try stroking them (or "carressing" them as someone once described it!)

Jenny


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Mike Byers
Date: 31 May 01 - 06:00 AM

A few years ago, I assembled a hammered dulcimer kit for a friend, a woman who has played and taught piano for a number of years. About the time I was stringing it, I realized the thing could have been put together t'other way around by changing the location of the bridges, sound holes and tone bars. But it was too late...


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 31 May 01 - 02:36 PM

Gypsy--True, but I bought it used; seller could not locate book. In the long run I learned more by having to figure it out.

Jenny--"preferably four strings per"--?? This is your basic-everyday with two strings per. Will it work? How about banjo picks??

Mike--interesting. What your saying is we could buy a kit and build it "backwards" if we wanted to? Advantage of doing it that way, I guess, is that tablature would be easier to follow than doing it our way.

CC


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Gypsy
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 12:29 AM

Musicmakers has great kits, if you opt for that directions. Not blueclicky fluent, but www.musikits.com


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Mike Byers
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 12:40 AM

It was a Musicmakers kit I built; good quality and the finished dulcimer sounds fine. I did edgeband the strong-but-kinda-ugly laminated frame to make it look a little neater. But since the "box" itself is a trapezoid, I could have reversed things so a piano player, used to playing the melody with the right hand, would have had a little easier time in the beginning. There's only one tone bar to relocate, plus drilling the sound holes in different places and setting the bridges (held on by string pressure anyway) in the opposite locations. In the end, it didn't make much difference, as the woman who plays this dulcimer picked it up very quickly. There's nothing like forty+ years of Chopin, Bach and Beethoven to develop your musical skills.


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: paddymac
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 04:14 AM

From a strictly mechanical view, playing the instrument in an inverted format (short side down) seems like it would make it rather unstable on the usual frame. Aside from that, whatever works for the player should be fine.


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Jenny S
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 02:42 PM

If you try to play a 2-strings-per-course with fingers you end up "plucking"... no harm in that, but with four strings per course you can play completely differently - try "carressing" - ie. "stroking " the four strings...

See what I mean?

Jenny


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 03:12 PM

Jenny--I was afraid that's what you meant, because that means buying another instrument right? I'm assuming you cannot convert a 2-stringer to a 3- or whatever?

Paddymac--That's my next worry, figuring out how to steady the sucker on the stand. Well, Chris is a wood-worker, so I should just let him figure it out.

While we're on that subject, at what angle do you folks have your instruments? In my brief encounter, I found that the flatter it lay, the worse my visual perspective on the strings was and the more likely I was to mis-hit. Is 45 degrees too steep??

Also, any thoughts on amplification? We need to balance it against guitar/banjo/mando/vocals. Any war stories on what not to do??

CC


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: GUEST,Claymore
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 05:12 PM

When I do the Upper Potomac Dulcimer Fests, I use a condenser (usually an AT MB 4000 or Shure BG 4.1) on a boom over the center high end of the dulcimer at an angle converging with the angle of the dulcimer at about 30 degrees. Keep it out of the way of the hammers, and watch any increase in angle that would give you monitor feedback.

Try not to use floor monitors as the dulcimer body will block most sounds (Maggie Sansone is famous for not hearing a monitor that is screaming at her). Use a Hot Spot to the right or left of the top edge of the dulcimer, but keep the dulcimer low in the mix, and ensure that the rythmn instrument has some prominence, to keep everybody together.

Frankly the best pick-up I have found is a plain ol Dean Markley Acoustic pick-up (little round wooden thing stuck on the bottom of the dulcimer with putty - move around until you get the most pleasing sound). If necessary run it through a LL Baggs EQ and DI to clean it up and convert to balanced. If you have enough channels you can use the pick-up to Aux to the Monitors and leave the condenser to add some brilliance without worrying about feedback. Good Luck!


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: catspaw49
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 05:43 PM

Write to fellow 'Catter Blue Jay and tell him about it. He's involved with a new pick-up group that's beginning to get some rave reviews called "Pick Up the World." You might get something more than what has to this point been the norm as Claymore described in one of its usual variants. PUTW is having great success with reproducing TRUE acoustic sounds!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 01 Jun 01 - 06:19 PM

Excellent, dudes. Thank you, Claymore; thank you, Spaw.

CC


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Jenny S
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 11:26 AM

In France there is a plant called Sambucus Ebulus that is toxic, and can easily be confused with Sambucus Nigra if you are not familiar true elder.

Sambucus Ebulus looks and smells exactly like Sambucus Nigra, until your notice that it grows annually, (It is not a tree, as Sambucus nigra is).

True elder is traditionally used against flu and colds, and has now been "proved, by scientists" to be effective... Why all those "old wives" should have been assumed wrong until proved otherwise I can't imagine.

Elderberry wine with added spices is my favourite.

Jenny


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: paddymac
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 11:51 AM

Guess Jenny accidently posted to the wrong thread.

CC - I concur w/ Claymore and 'spaw. Something to keep in mind is that whether you're playing acoustic or with some form of electronic assistance, the sound the audience hears is not the same as what you the player hear. I'm not an acoustic engineer, but I think the explanation is that what the player hears is mostly a direct reflection from the sound board, while what the audience hears is mostly what comes out of the resonating chamber. The phenomenon is a bit exaggerated in my case because my toy doesn't have an aperture in the sound board.

I play in a group with dulcimer, fiddle, mando, guitar, banjo and recorders. When we play acoustically, the biggest problems are muting the banjo and toning down the fiddle. I also use a markley stick-on pickup. I find the sound more pleasing when I take the highs way down on the board, and bring the lows up a good bit. You'll just have to play with the mix and find what sounds best to you. It seems like most players think their instrument, whatever it might be, isn't loud enough coming out of the mixing board. If you're on stage, you are the least competent to judge what it sounds like in the house. Let the sound guy do his job. If you're doing it yourself, find the sweet spot in the house and put someone with good hearing (no joke intended) there to listen for the group balance. Then, once you've got it set, resist the urge to tinker with it as the show progresses. Most importantly, have another pint and enjoy yourself.


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Chicken Charlie
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 01:25 PM

Paddymac et al--

Sound advice. (Gasp) I think we are sort of stumbling along a converging path. Our last gig was our first chance to play with a new sound system. I guess as you say nobody ever believes he and/or his instrument has enough volume. There was also a problem in that this was street fair & the noise from an electric generator, though not so loud as to drown the music, got inside our heads & messed us up. It was like we were selectively deaf on that pitch, & me and my alto lady were having a hell of a time finding our pitches. Would have loved to take your last piece of advice but the coppers had their stupid "public info" table directly across the street from us. As we were eyeball to eyeball, I felt that a hip flask was probably counter-indicated, though I'm sure it would have helped my balance.

Seriously, we'll work along the lines of what you said. Thanks again.

CC

PS Yeah, well, I was about to get an artist to paint a lovely picture of Sambulus egregius on my h.d. case, but I guess you're right. Guess that wisdom belongs over with the thing about not letting your dog eat poinsettias.


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Kelticgrasshopper
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 07:05 PM

this is exactly the reason I've nerver gone to one of those dulcimer gatherings, even thought I've been playing for 30 years. It would be to dam scary!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Yankee Gal
Date: 02 Jun 01 - 11:27 PM

Hey, we have a great gathering in Lafayette, Indiana, every Tuesday night on the old train station plaza. Now, if you can get into jammin' with a bunch of blue hairs..., I mean , I am ,,, uh,,, over 30, not by much, and I feel like a babe with these chicks, but they can play a mean dulcimer.


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Subject: RE: BS: Hammered Dulcimer
From: Mike Byers
Date: 03 Jun 01 - 11:49 AM

I've made several stands for hammered dulcimer players (some for sober ones, too) and the angle seems to be a matter of personal preference: everything from flat to 45 degrees seems to work for someone. Yankee Gal, I'll see you at the plaza on Tuesday if it isn't pouring rain; I play with "Bailiff's Hollow", some of the blue hairs. But in my case, it's more like "no hair".


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