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Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer

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GUEST 24 Jan 03 - 11:02 AM
Cornflake 24 Jan 03 - 11:33 AM
Jeanie 24 Jan 03 - 01:41 PM
Malachy 24 Jan 03 - 06:46 PM
Cornflake 24 Jan 03 - 07:47 PM
Bev and Jerry 24 Jan 03 - 07:55 PM
Mugwump 24 Jan 03 - 07:56 PM
kytrad 24 Jan 03 - 08:13 PM
Jeanie 25 Jan 03 - 06:26 AM
Malachy 25 Jan 03 - 05:52 PM
GUEST 25 Jan 03 - 05:54 PM
GUEST,dulcimer 25 Jan 03 - 05:59 PM
Kudzuman 25 Jan 03 - 06:15 PM
GUEST,Guest 27 Jan 03 - 04:26 AM
GUEST,Walking Eagle 27 Jan 03 - 07:42 PM
Felipa 10 Jul 03 - 07:12 PM
Kudzuman 10 Jul 03 - 08:06 PM
LadyJean 10 Jul 03 - 10:47 PM
katlaughing 11 Jul 03 - 12:05 AM
Chris Amos 11 Jul 03 - 01:24 AM
Dipsodeb 11 Jul 03 - 06:44 AM
GUEST,leeneia 11 Jul 03 - 11:20 AM
Felipa 11 Jul 03 - 04:37 PM
KateG 11 Jul 03 - 04:53 PM
GUEST,leeneia 11 Jul 03 - 10:17 PM
katlaughing 12 Jul 03 - 12:24 AM
GUEST,leeneia 12 Jul 03 - 03:29 PM
Mark Cohen 12 Jul 03 - 03:56 PM
Mark Cohen 12 Jul 03 - 03:59 PM
JohnInKansas 12 Jul 03 - 04:00 PM
JohnInKansas 12 Jul 03 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,NH Dave 12 Jul 03 - 07:28 PM
kytrad 12 Jul 03 - 07:37 PM
Dipsodeb 13 Jul 03 - 06:44 AM
Felipa 13 Jul 03 - 08:37 AM
Mrs.Duck 13 Jul 03 - 08:44 AM
dulcimer 13 Jul 03 - 10:07 AM
Ely 13 Jul 03 - 10:52 AM
kytrad 13 Jul 03 - 04:54 PM
Dipsodeb 14 Jul 03 - 05:45 AM
GUEST 14 Jul 03 - 11:07 AM
KateG 14 Jul 03 - 11:14 AM
GUEST 14 Jul 03 - 11:21 AM
JohnInKansas 14 Jul 03 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,grahamehood@pwcsnet.co.uk 18 Jul 03 - 08:38 AM
Dead Horse 18 Jul 03 - 02:21 PM
Dead Horse 18 Jul 03 - 02:29 PM
GUEST,Regular Mudcatter working on a xmas gift 18 Oct 04 - 10:07 AM
JohnInKansas 18 Oct 04 - 12:19 PM
kytrad 18 Oct 04 - 02:04 PM
Teresa 17 Feb 05 - 10:54 PM
GUEST,NoSuch 18 Apr 05 - 11:53 AM
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Subject: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 11:02 AM

Are there any teachers near South Oxfordshire UK


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Cornflake
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 11:33 AM

I can't help you but you might want to post your query at everything dulcimer.com. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Jeanie
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 01:41 PM

Hi there, South Oxfordshire Guest ! Good to know of someone else in the UK who is learning dulcimer - I got mine last month and so far been having fun playing around with different tunings. Aren't they the most beautiful instruments ever ?

As well as the website Cornflake suggests, another good one I have found is Dennis DenHartog's Mountain Dulcimer Page

I can't help with suggesting teachers, but if your request here draws a blank, a good port of call would be the Oxford branch of the shop "The Music Room" - very helpful people who may well know someone in your area. They also sell a load of instruction and tune books for dulcimer.

Thanks for asking this question - it's thrown up that massive list of Mudcat dulcimer threads, that will keep me busy for weeks !

Best of luck,
- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Malachy
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 06:46 PM

Hi Guest ..I recentley took my dulcimer off the shelf and started playing again after a break of 2 years ..and as Jeanie says it is an amazing instrument. And also as J says..learn a few tunings and experiment..it's an instrument no two people play the same...or at least that's what i think! I'm in Worthing..so that makes 3 of us in the UK!! *grin*
I think you will have a hard job to find a teacher..but M/Catters everywhere will offer helpful hints and tips.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Cornflake
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 07:47 PM

I screwed up the address of the website I mentioned. It's http://everythingdulcimer.com

It is a wonderful instrument. I fingerpick mine and am fond of drone notes but there are lots of approaches.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 07:55 PM

We have always played "the traditional style" as explained in "The Dulcimer Book" by Jean Ritchie. That means strumming with a pick and using a noter in the left hand. It's an excellent book and, if you want to learn that style, will teach you everything you need to know. It's been in print for about forty years and you can still get it on Amazon or other places. You can probably find it at Foyles next time you're in London.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Mugwump
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 07:56 PM

We've got a geezer, comes to our club sometimes - Graham Hood's his name. he writes for folk roots magazine. He not only plays the dulcimer brilliantly, he makes them!!

If you are really desperate I'll get hold of him for you!!!

It may take a week or so.

CA


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: kytrad
Date: 24 Jan 03 - 08:13 PM

Bev and Jerry- Thanks for the ad...just want to say that my little book is a very-beginning book, teaches simple basics of "the old way" of playing, along with some good history. Modern chording, fingerpicking and "hot licks" are not taught here; however, if one wants occasionally to do it the old way, it's easier to learn it in the beginning than it is after one has mastered the more complicated methods. Clumsy grammer that, but you know what I mean! In haste, Jean
P.S. Can also be ordered through my website (www.jeanritchie.com), but for out-of-country folks the shipping would probably be prohibitive.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Jeanie
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 06:26 AM

Oooh, hello Kytrad/Jean ! Pleased to meet you ! "The Dulcimer Book" is readily available over here in the UK online through places like "Hobgoblin" and "The Music Room". I bought mine online and after that found it on sale in my local general music shop in Chelmsford. The UK ISBN reference is: ISBN 0.7119.0386.7 (Oak Publications)

I'll second/third what Bev and Jerry say: it's a superb book, Jean. I love all the old photos and interesting information in it about the history of the dulcimer, too. My particular favourite is the photo of "Leah Smith of Big Laurel, Kentucky, playing dulcimer with a bow".

Pleased to hear of yet another dulcimer lover in the UK, Malachy. I've only had my dulcimer for a month and it's fast becoming the love of my life.

Cheers,
- jeanie


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Malachy
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 05:52 PM

Yep Jeanie...it sort of sneaks into your house like a stray cat and before you know it , it's sitting on your lap all the time!! And have you noticed that when non musical friends come round they always look at it and say 'What the hell is that' (or words to that effect lol). If you want to swap tunings, tips etc..be happy to hear from you
Mal.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 05:54 PM

I will forward this page/link to my friend in Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST,dulcimer
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 05:59 PM

Guest--If this bloody war thing does not stop me, I am planning to visit Ireland in June. My friend lives in Tullamore and plays MD. Don't plan to get to England, but might arrange to me for a jam session in Ireland.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Kudzuman
Date: 25 Jan 03 - 06:15 PM

So wonderful to hear from one of my heroines....Jean R.....here on the Cafe. While in England one may want to check out Roger Nicholson. He may have a site,but I'm sure a search engine would bring up some things. Early player to experiment with chordal work and did some seminal recordings. He's still out there doing great stuff today. John Molineux is another although he may be back in France now. Did some brilliant work with The John Renbourn Group and I just acquired an old album of his called "Douce Amere". Great stuff! Cheers and tip a Guiness for me....or two or three or.....

Kudzuman


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 27 Jan 03 - 04:26 AM

An amazing response I am encouraged to keep practicing . I have it tuned DAD and I am working on 3 tunes Abilene Black Vevet Band and Barbara Alan .
Almost forogot to say I made the Dulcimer .


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST,Walking Eagle
Date: 27 Jan 03 - 07:42 PM

The best advice I can give is just play it. When you hit a bump in the road, so to speak, then you may want to find someone to play with you or a teacher. Videos are helpful if you don't know of anyone near by. If you find that there are two or three fellow players within an hour's travelling distance, you may want to consider starting a playing fellowship. I play in the Brandywine Dulcimer Fellowship and we come from three states to play and enjoy one another.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Felipa
Date: 10 Jul 03 - 07:12 PM

I'm another new dulcimer owner. What strings do you suggest using? banjo strings could be obtained locally or I suppose I could order strings from Hobgoblin.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Kudzuman
Date: 10 Jul 03 - 08:06 PM

Experiment with tunings. All sorts of great sounds to be found!! Dadd, Dacc, Eadd, Dgdd, Dacc, Eaee, Ebee, Eagg, and many others. Ain't no right and no wrong, you just play it!! I teach at festivals and such here in the US. Any questions just PM me. If i don't know the answer, I'll tell ya something!!

Kudzuman


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: LadyJean
Date: 10 Jul 03 - 10:47 PM

Jean Ritchie made a recording of how to play the dulcimer back in the seventies. It's very good. I owned a copy until some BASTARD stole my record collection. I don't know if it's on CD, but it's worth looking for.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 12:05 AM

banjo strings work fine, at least on mine, felipa, and with Spaw's blessing - he used to make them, you know:-) Congratulations...you're going to have fun making beautiful music!


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Chris Amos
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 01:24 AM

Hobgoblin sell Dulcimer strings, when they have hem in stock. I like to tune mine down to C (C,G,C; C,A,C etc) so I have taken to using heavier looped mandolin strings.

Keep up the good work

Chris


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Dipsodeb
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 06:44 AM

Hi Guest
I am in a similar situation to you. I have recently started to learn Dulcimer, it's a fantastic instrument just strumming along and fiddling around produces such beautiful sounds, really theraputic and calming. Actually haven't got much further than that really except trying some different tunings. Maybe someone could tell me a tuning that suits a low voice, I haven't found a good one yet!
Misery mentioned Graham Hood, he is fantastic he's a friend of mine and was the one who got me into the Dulcimer. He lent me a great book called Lapidus on Dulcimer by Joellen Lapidus ISBN 0-89705-007-X I don't know if it's still available, but if it is it's well worth getting. It is very clear and easy to understand. If you PM me i may be able to give you Grahams contact No, but obviously will need to check with him first.
Good luck and enjoy.
~Debs~


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 11:20 AM

First you gotta learn to use it. So do this:

Tune it to DAA. (You can leave off the second melody string, it just makes it hard to tune.) Now start sounding out tunes on the melody string (the highest one)

In most cases, if you want harmony, you will get it by putting your fourth finger on the D string one fret behind the fret where your index finger is.

Exceptions are the note A (7th fret) where your fourth finger goes on the middle string, fifth fret.

For the note B, the fourth finger goes on the middle string, 6th fret. As you play, you will quickly pick up these exceptions, as your ears will tell you about it when you forget.

When you count frets, remember that the G# (the middle fret of the three small ones about in the center of the instrument) is known as "the 6 1/2th fret."

Now play lots of tunes, using different strums and picking patterns. Make up new strums. Play arpeggios, whack it, brush it, play it using no chords at all. Keep a list of the tunes you've thought of and what the first note of the song is.

When you know a couple tunes, start using other fingers besides your index finger on the melody string, to avoid putting too much stress on one finger.

When I play, I pick the melody string with my thumb, using a Herco light thumb pick, which is bright red, rather soft, and heart-shaped. It brings out the melody without producing an ugly twang. Experiment to find what method you prefer.

You will find that you can't sound out certain tunes, probably all of them minor. When you want to move on to minor, come back to the Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Felipa
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 04:37 PM

Is the DAA a recommendation to all or to Dipso... with the deeper voice? Which is the highest melody string in this arrangement?

My dulcimer was tuned AA (double strings) A (middle string) G (low string)
I tried DAD but am not so happy with it so far


Which direction do you pluck? I was strumming away from me, towards the deep string and someone said I should strum the other way around (indeed on a guitar I would start with my deepest string).

re banjo strings, are we talking about 4 string tenor banjo or the 5-string banjo? which gauges of these strings(when using paired string arrangement)?


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: KateG
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 04:53 PM

String guage depends on your preferred tuning. Folks who tend to live with a DAA (or other I-V-V tuning) tend to go for slightly heavier melody strings that the DAD (I-V-I) crowd. On the other hand, I tend to keep DAA style strings on my McSpadden and risk breaking when I tune up to DAD rather than flopping when tuning down to DAA with DAD strings. My sized .012's on the three upper strings, .022 or .023 on the bass -- this is for a McSpadden, but should give you a ballpark figure. The only other consideration is ball or loop end, and that depends on your instrument.

As for strumming, again it depends. When I'm playing gentle songs, I tend to strum away from my body: treble to bass. However, when I'm playing fast fiddle tunes, I tend to strum bass to treble to emphasise the downbeat. This works particularly well with jigs and other tunes with a lot of triplets, I strum the first note of the trio hard, and grab the other two with hammers, pulls or slides. Really gets that bass humming.

One of the joys of the dulcimer is that in many ways it is an evolving instrument with no fixed technique. You do what you like and follow your ears....and don't forget to try different tunings. DAC is haunting for minor tunes, DGD for fiddle tunes in G...the list goes on.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 11 Jul 03 - 10:17 PM

I recommended the DAA tuning because the method for getting harmony out of it is so simple - index finger on the melody string, ring finger one fret behind on the D string, with the minor exceptions as noted. It is a good way to get used to strumming, brushing, picking, sounding out, and finding the first note of a new song.

I fingerpick a lot, but when I brush, I brush away.

However, there is always "the dreaded bum-diddy strum," which is back and forth.

I also like DAA because I'm an alto, but I rarely play and sing at the same time. Too hard.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 12:24 AM

I highly recommend Jean Ritchie's book and also that of Larkin Bryant. Both explain in clear and easy to understand terms the different modes, tuning, finger techniques, etc. as well as have sheet music. Jean's of course, gives a lot of history with wonderful photos from her family's early days.

I agree though what I love about the instrument is it is so wide open to what YOU want to do with it..tuning-wise, strumming ( I mostly strum away), etc. Also, don't be afraid to try different kinds of picks, even feathers, like the traditional goose feather.

I second that about DAC (Aeolian mode), I love its minor tones, but I know more tunes that work in DAA (Ionian mode) so, I guess I'd better practice come new ones!:-)


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 03:29 PM

I've been wondering why the person who started this never came back, and now I see that the first post was made back in January, and someone resurrected the thread for no real reason.

Does this happen by accident, or does some toxic nerd think they're being cute?


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 03:56 PM

leeneia, it's common for someone to resurrect an old thread, sometimes from years ago. I'm glad Felipa brought this one back, because I missed it the first time.

I have a beautiful McSpadden dulcimer that someone lent me a couple of years ago and then turned into a gift, because "You'll use it a lot more than I ever would"--but I never did. I'm a pre-novice on the dulcimer, but this thread has given me the impetus to justify her generosity by picking it up and playing [with] it. I do have Jean's book (currently on loan to another friend), and also Madeline MacNeil's "You Can Teach Yourself Dulcimer" which is a Mel Bay publication. And this thread has given me lots of good ideas. So until I can replace my recently stolen guitar, I may be droning on the dulcimer for a while--and maybe the habit will stick!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 03:59 PM

By the way, the originator of the thread did in fact come back: 27 Jan 03 4:26AM (Mudcat time). And I'd like to congratulate him/her--that post said that he/she made the dulcimer in question!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 04:00 PM

It would have been nice if the originator had said thanks, but the refresh this month was by another "newby" player with a new, and fairly specific question - about strings. Refreshing an old thread on a related subject is something of a "recommended practice," although it can cause confusion, as it seems to have done here. The refresh, to ask for related information, seems appropriate in this case.

The new question received a fairly specific few replies; although a couple of later posters apparently didn't note that the original request had apparently "died," - or maybe just thought there was more to be said on the original subject.

We have had occasions where someone would "randomly" bring up bunches of old threads - usually when one of our "narrow purpose" personalities thought the BS was getting too thick. Hopefully that will be less "necessary" since the BS section has been partitioned.

The refresh on this threads seems perfectly appropriate to me - but then I'm pretty flexible about such stuff.

John


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 04:03 PM

Mark - Good catch on the comeback of the original poster. I missed it because of the Guest,Guest tag while I was looking over the post history.

John


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST,NH Dave
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 07:28 PM

The Patons used to have a book and record, which they transcribed onto cassette, by Howie Mitchell on building and playing the Mountain Dulicmer and another set on the Hammered Dulcimer. This gave both the standard strums, studies of the various modal tunings, and an introduction in playing fretted chords and double thumbing techniques.

The last time I called Folk Legacy there was some problem locating both the book and the record/tape, but they originally came together. Since then they purged most of their records so the problem may have become more acute.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: kytrad
Date: 12 Jul 03 - 07:37 PM

As THE DULCIMER BOOK, that old one of mine (first pub. 1963 I think, with Oak Publications and sold for 2.95! Now is around 15 or so) is still being published- it's Music Sales now, with Oak being just one of its companies. Homespun Tapes is at this time reissuing my old teaching tapes as a CD, with a more up-to-date photo on the cover (about time). Technique taught is VERY basic, as my own playing has ever been. For modern hot licks and fingerings one must look elsewhere, but this book has got a few thousand dulcimer players started.

I believe that the most fun for new players is sitting in a quiet corner and 'discovering' how to play the instrument. Basic playing is so very simple, and so rewarding to the ears and fingers of beginners. They get a tune right away, and if they're singers, it's not long before they're singing, and working out an accompaniment- that gives such a sense of achievement and pleasure! Just for their own enjoyment, not for an audience to listen in-not even family. It's the best way to 'meet' your new dulcimer, who'll be a friend for life


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Dipsodeb
Date: 13 Jul 03 - 06:44 AM

Kytrad, I would love to get hold of those tapes, I need all the help I can get :) Anymore info on how I can purchase them? I am in the UK.
~Debs~


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Felipa
Date: 13 Jul 03 - 08:37 AM

Leenia wrote that "someone resurrected the thread for no real reason."

Leenia, as I am going to learn to play dulcimer, I had an excellent reason for refreshing the thread!

Note how many related threads there are; it was better to keep this one going then to add another thread to the list. And much useful information on dulcimer playing has been added.

Debs - I haven't looked them up yet, but Hobgoblin and the Music Room have been recommended as UK sources for books, tapes, strings, etc. Also, there's a UK dulcimer club and it has a website, I think it's called "Nonesuch". It's both for hammer dulcimer and Appalachian dulcimer players


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 13 Jul 03 - 08:44 AM

Geoff made our (well OK his but I sort of adopted it) appalachian dulcimer and his hammered dulcimer. Not sure what the tuning is but I use a wodden noter in left hand and strum away with the right - occasionally with a goose feather just for the hell of it and the fact that a goose in York conveniently got run over and left about a dozen clean flight feathers arlong the river bank.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: dulcimer
Date: 13 Jul 03 - 10:07 AM

I think you need to listen to the advise and try all until you find what fits you and what kind of music you want to play. The DAA vs DAD thing is a big debate. I would agree the DAA might be a beginning tuning--BUT only because teachers have started students out in it. Actually, for ease of chording and getting harmony, DAD presents less difficulty. You don't have to skip over a string to get a chord. If you want to chord, it would be well to learn standard finger/fret position: these position apply all the way up the fret board. Also DAD tuning allows easy slimping into DGD or DAC. The problem with DAD is that many tunes go below melody D and beginners have developed the skill to cross string the melody. Also, if you are playing with other instruments, the melody on the middle and bass strings (if you are strumming) gets lost. Dulcimers usually don't have enough volume to project it. Also, DAA tends to have a little deep sound and may be more pleasing.
As far as strumming the issue should be what you want to hear first--the melody or the drone.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Ely
Date: 13 Jul 03 - 10:52 AM

I learned in DAA for one day and then switched to DAD. I think DAA is considered more traditional, but DAD is more versatile so it depends on what you want. I just buy individual strings at the local music shops (10, 12, 24-gauge for DAD). I also use a capo a lot and, in DAD, I can get the keys of D, Em, G, A, and Am. I've never used a noder & I strum with those big lightweight guitar-type picks (the big, bulgy-triangle ones). I'm a notorious "cross-stringer" of melodies, so it doesn't bother me that the melody strings on DAD don't go down as far--heck, I'll play melody on the bass strings if I have to--but both of my dulcimers have pretty good separation of tone among the strings so notes played on drone strings are still audible.

A dulcimer strung for DAD can be retuned easily to CGC (key of C), DGD (G), and DAC (D minor), and probably others, all of which are fun to play with.

Overall, I guess it depends on what kind of music you want to learn and how sophisticated you want to get.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: kytrad
Date: 13 Jul 03 - 04:54 PM

Dipsodeb-Homespun Tapes is a company in the USA owned by Happy Traum. You may email him at Happy@homespuntapes.com He'll be the one to answer your inquiry about sales in the UK. He also offers a teaching series of tapes by Lorraine Lee Hammond- she teaches a much more advanced, modern way of playing than my traditional method. She's a good friend of mine. Our small label (Greenhays Recordings) issued an album she did with England's Roger Nicholson, some years ago, called, "An Exultation of Dulcimers." Now available on CD I believe.
(greenhays@aol.com).


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Dipsodeb
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 05:45 AM

Thanks Kytrad, I really appreciate your help and will follow up on your advice and get in touch with Happy Traum.
~Debs~


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 11:07 AM


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: KateG
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 11:14 AM

Have you joined the Dulcimer digest mailing list????

Should you wish to join,
send a message to:
Majordomo@Clearspring.com with
subscribe dulcimer-list ("immediate" mode)
or subscribe dulcimer-list-digest (1 day's messages in 1 post)in the body.


This is a big dulcimer chatlist, mostly aimed at mountain dulcimer folks. Like the 'Cat, the folks on the list are wondrous friendly and will answer virtually any question you have.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 11:21 AM

I had about given up DAA in favor of the convenience offered by DAD with a capo, but if you think DAA is dull, check out the tab for "Hopping John" offered here: http://www.donpedi.com
And if you're looking for that lonesome sound sometimes described as "mountain modal," you'll get closer to it by using the traditional tunings in Jean Ritchie's "Dulcimer Book" than by capoing. Kytrad's far too humble about that book. If I could keep only one book from my collection, her "Dulcimer Book" would be it. -- Pinetop Slim


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 14 Jul 03 - 01:03 PM

As a confirmed MD addict, SWMBO carries a postcard from "The Dulcimer Shoppe" in her case with the quote:

"THER AIN'T NO NOTES ON A DULCIMER – YOU JUS PLAY IT"
    – Joe Clark, 1892.

In the innocent thought that it might be of interest to know who this "Joe Clark" might have been, I attempted a brief web search – and came up with nothing that would identify a Joe Clark who was known to play the dulcimer in the 1890s.

Perhaps someone else has come across some reference, or knows who he might have been?

Of course, searching for "Joe Clark" brings up several hundred thousand hits – all of which refer to the song/tune "Old Joe Clark," which is in every dulcimer (and/or old-time or bluegrass) music book ever published.

Perhaps of interest: Joe Clark Bio includes:

"JOSEPH CLARK "OLD JOE CLARK," PRIVATE, 7TH INFANTRY REGIMENT KENTUCKY VOLUNTEERS, US ARMY (COPYRIGHT ©2001 MY OLD KENTUCKY ROOTS)

" Joseph Clark was the second son of Henry J. Clark and Patience Bledsoe and was born in Clay County, Kentucky on September 18, 1839."

"There was a popular break-down tune at the time that did not have lyrics, so some of Joe's friends started making up rhymes to be sung with the tune. From this originated the ballad of "OLD JOE CLARK." Joe is said to have liked the song until some of the more fun loving souls started making up rhymes that were not very complementary.
…"
"Joe operated a country store near his house and also ran a moonshine still …

" There are several stories surrounding his death. J.B. Weaver gave this account, as told to him by Joe's son. Joe was living with a woman named Chris Leger and they split up. He then began living with a McKenney woman in his store, renting his house to Chris and her new friend, the brother of Old Jim Howard. Leger and Howard then devised a plan whereby they would kill Joe and she would claim he had left the farm to her. Howard shot and killed Joe on April 22, 1886, near the back porch of the store. Howard then fled to Beattyville, where a few days later while crossing a bridge, he was stabbed to death by two men from Clay County."

(Since this Joe Clark died in 1886, it's unlikely he said anything in 1892 that anyone would remember.)

But over in the thread Old Joe Clark. THE folk song/tune?
We have:
From: MAG (inactive) - PM
Date: 14 Sep 00 - 06:30 PM
"Ironic, since it was actually written (I don't know about composed) in 1843."

MAG stated that she'd recently researched this, but gave no sources.

(One wonders why lyrics like I've seen would have been written about a 4 year old child, athough in those rough times, perhaps they grew up fast.)

Well, maybe lyrics were written about more than one "Joe Clark?"

An attempt to go to the source of the card, The Dulcimer Shoppe, finds that the original owners sold The Dulcimer Shoppe in 2001, and current web pages give no information on small trinkets like postcards.

Dulcimists will, however, recognize "The Dulcimer Shoppe," Mountain View, Arkansas, as the home of McSpadden Dulcimers – who remain in business. It might be of interest for some to check out the East Texas Dulcimer Newsletter, February 2001, which has a brief bio on Lynn McSpadden, and a history of McSpadden Dulcimers (and also a brief bio on another notable maker, Stanley Hicks).

Another item of possible interest, particularly to newer players, appears in Dirty Linen #34 June/July '91: Contemporary Mountain Dulcimer: from which I cannot resist quoting –

"Much of what we do know about the mountain dulcimer comes from the great Kentucky singer, Jean Ritchie. Jean has been largely responsible for introducing the dulcimer to the masses, through her concerts, lectures, recordings, and publications since the 1940s. Her Dulcimer Book [Oak Pubs], which offers detailed historical perspective, photos and complete playing instructions, is still the standard. Her book Dulcimer People [Oak Pubs] is an insightful "modern history" of the dulcimer, documenting such important players as Howie Mitchell, Holly Tannen, and others."

There are some other things mentioned in the article.

Also of possible interest: Guide to Music Literature for Mountain Dulcimer. This is essentially just a list of books, but there are quite a number of them, and they seem all to be potentially interesting. (3 of kytrads are listed, although with old publisher info.)

So, on the subject I was looking for, ZERO. Other interesting junk – pretty good? Ain't the web wunnaful?

On the subject of s.a. sayings about dulcimers, the other "catch phrase" for mountain dulcimers – repeated hourly around any campground where there's a dulcimer – is "JUST FIND A PLEASANT TONE."

SWMBO can do that pretty well, but she resists my urging to "Now find the SAME pleasant tone everyone else is using." (Just kidding – really.)

John


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST,grahamehood@pwcsnet.co.uk
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 08:38 AM

Hi Felipa. I use a set of 5 string banjo strings.(which of course have loop ends) You go for a set with a 0.010 first string. For DAD tuning use the 1st and 5th (which are both the same gauge)banjo strings for the first pair and the 4th for the bass.
You can use either the 2nd or the 3rd banjo string for the middle, I prefer the 3rd, but see which sounds best on your dulcimer.
Hope this helps. This also works for CAD and AAD tuning, but is a bit slack for GAD tuning.

Hope this helps!   

Grahame Hood, Bromley Kent


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Dead Horse
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 02:21 PM

There is a workshop for Hammer Dulcimer at Broadstairs Folkweek.
If you are in that area between 10:00 - 12:00 it is being run by Sue Evans & Lisa Warburton at the school site.
http//www.broadstairsfolkweek.com for prog info.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Dead Horse
Date: 18 Jul 03 - 02:29 PM

Sorry. Forgot to mention its on Saturday 9th August, Upton School, Broadstairs.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST,Regular Mudcatter working on a xmas gift
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 10:07 AM

This is a great thread topic, and GUEST grahamehood has almost answered the question that I am researching--I've established that banjo strings are what I need for a mountain dulcimer, but are there different types of banjo strings, steel versus nylon, like for guitars? Are there brands that are particularly good for mountain dulcimers? Do I have to know how I'm going to tune it before I choose the strings?

Someone's not-so-secret Santa


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 12:19 PM

RMWOXG -

There are probably far more varieties of banjo strings than you'll encounter if you just buy your strings as "Mountain Dulcimer strings." Most reasonably stocked music retailers should probably have them. This of course, assumes you're using the "commercial standard," approximately 28.5 inch string.

There is some variation in sets, since a few traditionalists don't double-course the top string, hence only use 3 instead of 4. I've seen a very few "prepackaged" MD sets with only three strings in them, but I think those were specials; and most of the retail market MD sets will have 4. The packaged sets should be a good starting point.

I had thought to grab a spare set and give you some typical diameters, but apparently our resident dulcimist has them hidden. Maybe someone else can give you some specifics, if she doesn't wake up in the next few hours.

If you really need to "roll your own" I'd expect that one of the Dulicmer sites should have info on wire diameters, since some players like "specials" for bizarre tunings. You can probably also order Mountain Dulcimer string sets from about any of them.

For most of the common tunings, you don't need to worry too much about overstretching them, since Mountain Dulcimer strings seem to work at a little lower load than many other instruments. The default gages will usually tune as far as you need to for any of the common tunings.

John


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: kytrad
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 02:04 PM

For 4-string dulcimers, I used to get Black Diamond banjo strings (that's a Five-string banjo, not a tenor)- seconds for the three trebles, and a wound fourth-string for the bass. But now you can buy sets already put together called just, Dulcimer Strings. Any shop that sells or knows about dulcimers would have these.


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: Teresa
Date: 17 Feb 05 - 10:54 PM

Well, I'll soon have a dulcimer to keep me company, and I'm really looking forward to playing it. I've played with friends' dulcimers and loved it.

So, here I am reading through Mudcat threads and the invaluable information they provide. And I decided to refresh this one.

Thank you, Kytrad for what you do. It's your music that inspires me to play. I'm going to start with the "traditional" method and see what happens from there.

Take care,
Teresa


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Subject: RE: Learning to play a Mountain Dulcimer
From: GUEST,NoSuch
Date: 18 Apr 05 - 11:53 AM

Electric Stick Dulcimer?

Interesting MP3 to listen to as well

Dave


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