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Instruments: Dulcimer

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Malachy 29 Oct 02 - 07:33 PM
Alice 29 Oct 02 - 08:32 PM
Mary in Kentucky 29 Oct 02 - 08:50 PM
Sorcha 29 Oct 02 - 08:59 PM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 29 Oct 02 - 09:43 PM
Mudlark 30 Oct 02 - 03:23 AM
GUEST,Maldenny 30 Oct 02 - 05:40 AM
GUEST,Russ 30 Oct 02 - 10:18 AM
katlaughing 30 Oct 02 - 11:16 AM
Bobert 30 Oct 02 - 03:29 PM
Malachy 30 Oct 02 - 05:30 PM
Rick Fielding 30 Oct 02 - 05:51 PM
Jeri 30 Oct 02 - 06:51 PM
Mudlark 30 Oct 02 - 10:25 PM
GUEST,Pinetop Slim 31 Oct 02 - 09:30 AM
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Subject: Origins: Dulcimer
From: Malachy
Date: 29 Oct 02 - 07:33 PM

Well it didn't fit into any relevant category!! Any mudcatters play the Appalachian Dulcimer? ( stupid question). Just got mine out of the spare room and am on a mission to play it again. Would be interested to hear of tunings. Do you you use your thumb on the fret board?..etc. Just sat here for 2 hours and managed to bash out 'Hard Times Come Again No More'.. Some tips would be appreciated.
Mal...(with a very sore thumb)


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: Alice
Date: 29 Oct 02 - 08:32 PM

Mudcat dulcimer expert Jean Ritchie (member name kytrad). Click here


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: Mary in Kentucky
Date: 29 Oct 02 - 08:50 PM

Malachy, I'm a novice dulcimer player. I would suggest that you first read the threads above to refine your questions. (Maybe they are already answered or maybe the readings will make you think of more questions.)

What helped me most:

1) A good book (such as Jean's) that you can go back to periodically to refresh your memory and better understand the tunings.

2) a collection of tabs for songs I know and love. I read music so tabs are easy for me.

3) Concentrate on playing in one tuning (I like DAD) to get used to the basic chords in that tuning, then just fiddle around with making your own music, songs that pop into your head when you hear those chords.

4) The threads above will talk more about picks, tab sites, etc.

5) If you're lucky, find someone to jam with.

6) Buy tapes and CD's of dulcimer playing, (sold at festivals and music stores).

7) Search the Internet for dulcimer clubs and the things they are talking about. (players they recommend listening to)


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: Sorcha
Date: 29 Oct 02 - 08:59 PM

Hard Time is in Mixolydian mode...used to play a lot, let it drop for some reason.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 29 Oct 02 - 09:43 PM

To answer your question on how to 'fret' it, I use my thumb rolled almost all the way over so it's just nail that makes contact.

Two things I worked out on my own:

Holding a kitchen match parallel to your index finger and underneath it [hold it like a noter; head end in towards your palm, of course] fret just ONE of the two strings in the 'melody course.' That adds a whole 'nother' world of dissonance, esp. when you fret on like the first or second frets. I call this 'McReynolds chording' after mandolinist Jesse M., who claims to fret just one string on his mando occasionally. Keep pressure on the top of the match with your fingertip, and it won't break. You can use the noter that way, but a match is easier to keep from buzzing on the other melody string.

Using the middle string (I play DAD mostly) for the melody gives a super-haunting, eerie sound. My faves for this are 'Engine 143' and 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow.'

Beyond that, visit the nearest Lutheran church, steal a hymnal, and play the old-time hymn melodies until you can't stand it any more. Theology quite aside, I think "St. Crispin" (aka 'Jesus, Thy Blood and Righteousness') was made for the 'laptop' and vice versa. And if you get religion, you can always sneak the hymnal back into the rack.

Try unexpected songs. As my friend Al says, regardless of which of my six or eight instruments I pick up, "Hey, can you play blues on that thing?" So far, "When Death Comes Creepin'" has actually been most favorably received by my occasional audiences, tho' that's the exact opposite of the type of material I recommended in the previous paragraph. But then, if you aren't bipolar, what are you doing messing around with music, I say.

CC


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: Mudlark
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 03:23 AM

Mal...I get my McSpadden down off the wall every once in a while and remember all over again why I like it. I play mostly in Mixolydian...not only good for folk music but lots of 40's tunes including the above mentioned Over the Rainbow, also Can't Help Lovin that Man of Mine, Moonlight Becomes you, Try a little Tenderness, etc. etc. etc. I have a 4-string, 2 strings carry melody...I've had the bridge notched so I can play them together or just the outside one.
I usually tune the 2 melody strings together, sound changes completely when you lower the 2nd one to match the middle string...

I chord a lot (another good reason to play in Mix.) and pick as well as just strum. Try Amazing Grace in standard Mix tuning, also the Masterpiece Theatre theme, also that part of the Dvorak that Going Home is taken from...very haunting.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: GUEST,Maldenny
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 05:40 AM

Mal, for speed I use my thumb for going up the fretboard (towards the dusty end), and the middle or little finger for going back towards the nut.

I also slip the middle string under a model-railway tack to change it from A to D when playing in G.

Talking about different tunes on dulcimers, we play a lot of French and English traditional dance tunes, and even medieval stuff (need to tune to Dm for many of them).

I'm Mal too! - anything about dulcimers and Mals? Why are Malcolms all portrayed as snotty nosed wimps on the telly? Yes OK, the telly can't always be wrong.

Mal


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 10:18 AM

Malachy,
Been playing dulcimer for 30+ years. Play exclusively in mixolydian D on a 4 string dulcimer (DDAD high to low). Since I chord while I finger pick I regularly use my thumb on the fret board.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: katlaughing
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 11:16 AM

I picked it up a couple of years ago and have a fine time just using my index finger as a noter, though I do have two noters made for me by Mudcatters which work very well, too. I find my hand cramps up less if I just use my finger. I haven't worked up to chords, yet. I think I need a wider neck to do that comfortably.

I also have started using a feather to strum, as Jean Ritchie mentions in her book. I've used lots of different picks, but I like the sound I get with a feather best.

Here's one more thread you might enjoy. As I remember, there were a lot of helpful tips posted for which I was quite grateful: Finally found my instrument.

Have fun!

kat


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: Bobert
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 03:29 PM

DAD. I either use a wooden dowel on the paired strings or thumb and fingers with palm down. On the other end, either a flat pick or bare thumb and single finger alternate picking.

If you use the dowel you can figure out any just about any songs you wnat in just a minute or two. The thumb and fingering a tad more difficult in figuring the stuff out.

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: Malachy
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 05:30 PM

Thanks very much for all the replies and advice. And Mudlark ...had a go at 'Somewhere over the Rainbow'.....but the Eva Cassidy version kept running through my mind....I think I ran out of frets !!!
Mal.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 05:51 PM

Yup. Had my "Magic Mountain" dulcimer for over thirty years now. Play in a lot of different tunings, and still have a lot of fun with it.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: Jeri
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 06:51 PM

I have a 3 stringed Leonard Glenn dulcimer. I tune the two higher strings to the 4th fret of the bass string, so if it's a C, they're Gs. Mixolydian mode: higher strings tuned to bass at 7th fret, aeolian mode (minor): high strings tuned to bass at 6th fret.

I often use my thumb and a finger - the finger frets the center or bass string and the thumb frets the melody string. I can use finger and thumb on just the melody string to play ornamentation. I use 3 fingers sometimes, but I can move a lot faster when I only fret 2 strings.


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: Mudlark
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 10:25 PM

Mal...if your run out of frets, go from the sublime to the rediculous and try Zing went the strings of my heart. Shades of Judy Garland!


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Subject: RE: Instruments: Dulcimer
From: GUEST,Pinetop Slim
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 09:30 AM

Don Pedi has posted dulcimer tablature here forBullfrog On A Puncheon Floor, Sally's Got Mud Between Her Toes, and Trouble On the Mind. Bullfrog and Sally are lots of fun to play. I have worked at Trouble, but I spect it's a good one, too.


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