FREE TABLATURE for beginners from Amy Hopkins Raab, a mountain dulcimer teacher in Indianapolis shared this on EverythingDulcimer Facebook page:
Amy says these tabs are very simple (and often simplified), to make them beginner-friendly. NOTE: Those who are not beginners but who like modal tunings and noter-drone playing style, these are also for you. There are Ionian, Mixolydian, Aeolian, and Dorian tunes, all in the key of D.
In honor of today being the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War I:
11-11-18: Appalachian Dulcimer Players In World War I
In 1913 Josiah H. Combs wrote in part in his book “The Kentucky Highlanders from a Native Mountaineer’s Viewpoint“:
“The “dulcimore” (dulcimer) is the traditional piece that drones, in a sad strain, the nasal music of the ballad…
…The dulcimore is a unique survival of antique musical instruments, and needs explanation. It is oblong, about thirty-four inches in length, with a width at its greatest of about six inches, becoming smaller at each end. Three strings reach from tip to tip, the first and second ones tuned to the same pitch, and the third one forms the bass string. Two octaves and a quarter are marked out upon the three-quarters of an inch piece of wood that supports, and is just under the strings on the top of the instrument.
The Mountaineer “follers pickin’ ” it by means of a quill, with which he strikes the three strings at the same time with his right hand, over the gap at the larger end, at the same time using in his left hand a small reed with which he produces the air, or his “single string variations.” The music of the dulcimore resembles that of the Scottish bagpipe, in that it is weird and strange…
…The dulcimore is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, because the Mountaineers are becoming ashamed of the musical instrument that stands, with many other things, on the dividing line between two civilizations. Only a few of them are extant. Within a few more years and this strange old relic of by-gone days will pass…
…This strange music of the dulcimore appeals to the heart of the Mountaineer, as does the music of the “Sourwood Mountain” fiddler. It is foreign to our introspective age…
You can read the entire 1913 book book here:
Making your own Traditional Loop End Strings by Dulcimore Dan
From the 1958 book by dulcimer maker A.W. Jeffreys, Tuning and Playing the Appalachian Dulcimer, in the section “Styles Of Playing” he writes about a variation on the “Simple Method” of playing. The simple method he points out is “the easiest and most traditional…” This method is basically just fretting the melody string and strumming across the two drone strings.
Jeffreys then goes on and offers a “Variation of Simple Method“. Essentially you strum the melody string only and after a brief pause strum the drone strings. “Only strum the drone strings when the melody is sustained. When the melody is moving, play the melody on the first string and reserve the drone strings when the melody note is held… the drone strings are not dampened but continue vibrating, slowly dying away, until strummed again.”1
Here’s the example Jeffreys used, Go tell Aunt Rhody
D 0 0 0
A 0 0 0
A 5 5 4 3 3
Go tell Aunt Rhody,
D 0 0
A 0 0
A 4 4 6 5 4 3
Go tell Aunt Rhody
D 0 0
A 0 0
A 7 7 6 5 3
Go tell Aunt Rhody
A 3 4 3 4 5 3
The old gray goose is dead
- Tuning and Playing the Appalachian Dulcimer; Jeffreys, Alois Waldo (A.W.) Jr.; 1958, Staunton, Virginia
Here’s an article I wrote about the traditional social customs of putting certain objects in ones instrument. For the old timers it generally had more to do with performance and maintenance than with good luck.
Old-timey Dulcimer Performance and Maintenance Notions
We have a writing desk with a door that drops down to write on, it is next to a table that our ‘puter is on. For the last week or so on the desk I had a primary turkey feather that I put there waiting to get around to doing something noter/droninsh with.
The other night, my wife had already gone to bed, while I was taking care of business on the ‘puter, Sally snuck up behind me on the chair I was in and stealthily got on the writing desk to my left, and quick as a wink snatched the turkey feather and went dashing off with her prize.
I let her think she got one over on me, figuring I’d later find the turkey feather with her stash of kitty toys, wadded up paper, and other treasures she’s collected.
When I finally went to bed I found that turkey feather laying on top my sleeping wife.
David B <><