Traditional Ballad for Mountain Dulcimer: “Barbara Allen”

by Ralph Lee Smith with Madeline MacNeil

This ballad has origins in the British Isles. The version here was collected by Cecil Sharp and published in his 19312 book, English Folk-Songs from the Southern Appalachians. The arrangement here is from the singing of Loraine Wyman. The music of Lorraine, and Josephine McGill, is presented in Mel Bay Publications’ MB98423, Folk Songs of Old Kentucky – Two Song Catchers in the Kentucky Mountains 1914 and 1916, selected and arranged by Ralph Lee Smith with Madeline MacNeil.

Loraine Wyman as pictured in May 1917 issue of Vogue magazine.

He sent his servant to the town
To the place where she was dwelling
Saying, “Love, there is a call for you
If your name is Barbara Allen.”   She was very slowly getting up
And very slowly going,
The only words she said to him
“Young man, I think you’re dying.”  “Don’t you remember the other day
When you were in town a-drinking,
You drank a health to the ladies ’round
And slighted Barbara Allen?”

 

“O yes, I remember the other day
When I was in town a-drinking,
I drank a health to the ladies ’round,
But my love to Barbara Allen.”

 

He turned his pale face to the wall
And death was in him dwelling; .
‘Adieu, adieu, to my friends all,
Be kind to Barbara Allen.”

When she got in two miles of town,
She heard the death bells ringing;
They rang so clear, as if to say
“Hard-hearted Barbara Allen!” “O Mother, Mother, make my bed
O make it soft and narrow.
Sweet William died for me today
And I will die tomorrow.  “O Father, Father, dig my grave
O dig it deep and narrow,
Sweet William died for love of me
And I will die in sorrow.”

 

Sweet William lies in the old church yard,
Barbara Allen lies in the choir:
Out of his heart grew a red, red rose,
And out of hers a brier.

 

They grew and grew to the old church tower
‘Til they could grow no higher;
They grew and they tied in a true love’s knot
The rose wrapped ’round the brier.

Mountain Dulcimer: Those Sparkling Harmonics!

We all may have occasions where we want to put some “dazzle” into our playing. Harmonics can add sparkle to an arrangement and also can sometimes provide a handy way to negotiate a tricky passage.

What’s a harmonic?

The easy definition is: a “clear bell-like sound” produced by lightly stopping a string at ½ (or 1/3 or ¼) of its full length along the fretboard. Explaining how this happens requires some physics. Briefly, when you press a string lightly at certain frets, you effectively divide the string into some fraction of its normal length. When the string is “shortened” in this way, it can no longer vibrate over its entire length, but can only vibrate along the length of string between your finger and the bridge. The “shortened” string can no longer sound its usual pitch (the “fundamental” tone), but instead produces a higher pitched tone (actually, this higher tone is always present when the open string is played, but is usually overshadowed by the louder “fundamental” tone).

Playing a harmonic at the 7th fret divides the string in half and produces a tone that is one octave higher than the open string. A harmonic at fret 4 or fret 11 divides the string into thirds and produces a tone that is 1 octave plus a fifth higher than the open string. A harmonic at fret 3 or fret 14 divides the string into fourths and produces a tone that is 2 octaves higher. These tones are called “natural” harmonics. As a specific example, an open D string has the following natural harmonics:

  • harmonic at fret 7 is D (one octave higher than open string D)
  • harmonic at fret 4 or 11 is A (1 octave plus a fifth above open string D)
  • harmonic at fret 3 or 14 is D (two octaves higher than open string D)

Additional natural harmonics exist, but these three (at the octave, 1/3, and ¼ string lengths) are the ones that can be played most easily and are most often used.

How do I play a “natural” harmonic?

Use a finger of your left hand to very lightly touch a string at the 7th (or 3rd, 4th, 11th, or 14th) fret. Note that this left hand finger must touch the string directly on top of the fret, not slightly to the left of the fret, as in normal fretting. With your right hand, pluck the string.  You may pluck either with a pick or with a finger (or thumb). For a clear sound, experiment with lifting your left hand finger after you pluck the string. You may also want to experiment with the position of your right hand along the fretboard; whether you pluck over the strum hollow, near the bridge, or further up the fretboard may affect the volume and clarity of the tone.  I would recommend that you take a little time and practice just playing natural harmonics before you attempt them within the context of a musical piece.

What’s an “artificial” harmonic?

Because natural harmonics occur only at certain places (nodes) on a string, they are limited to the pitches that occur at those nodes. But, suppose we want the bell-like sound of a harmonic at a pitch that does not occur at one of these natural nodes? That’s where artificial harmonics come in: if we “artificially” shorten the string length by fretting (fully depressing the string in the same way that we fret to play a pitch), then we can find harmonics of that shortened string length. For example, in DAD tuning:

  • If we fret (fully depress) the treble string at fret 1 (E), an octave harmonic will exist at ½ of that altered string length: the harmonic will occur at fret 8 and will have the pitch of E, one octave higher than the E at fret 1. 
  • If we fret the treble string at fret 1 (E), other harmonics occur at fret 5 and fret 12; these harmonics have the pitch of B, one octave plus a fifth higher than E at fret 1. 
  • If we fret the treble string at fret 1 (E), additional harmonics occur at fret 4 and fret 15; these harmonics have the pitch of E, two octaves higher than E at fret 1. 
  • If we fret the treble string at fret 2 (F#), an octave harmonic will exist at ½ of that altered string length: the harmonic will occur at fret 9 and will have the pitch of F#, one octave higher than the F# at fret 1.

How do I play an artificial (fretted) harmonic?

Three things must happen at once: (1) use a finger of your left hand to firmly depress a string at the fret indicated in the tab; (2) use the index finger of your RIGHT hand to lightly touch the same string at the fret that is exactly one octave higher than the note that your left hand is fretting; (3) use the thumb of your right hand to pluck the string. For example: if your left hand depresses the treble string at fret 1, you can play  an artificial harmonic that sounds one octave higher by using your right index finger to lightly touch the treble string fret 8, and simultaneously using your right thumb to pluck the string. To pluck the string, your thumb must swing under your right hand and pluck to the right (bridge side) of where your right index finger touches the string. Plucking artificial harmonics is easiest if you are fingerpicking; but, if you are using a pick, just hold the pick with the middle finger and thumb while you are playing the harmonic.

How are harmonics indicated in tablature?

Natural harmonics are indicated by “N.H.” or by an open diamond shape above or next to the note. Artificial harmonics are indicated by “A.H.” or by a filled-in diamond.

Where can I use harmonics in an arrangement?

Harmonics can be used as a beginning, as an ending, or in the middle of the piece. Many players will endan arrangement with a harmonic, usually a harmonic “sol” or perhaps a harmonic “sol-do” (octave “A” followed by octave “D”, if piece is in D major). While this ending does sparkle, I’d recommend using it sparingly, as it can become trite if used too often. Also, until a player has lots of practice, ending a piece with a harmonic can be risky: while a well-executed harmonic is one of the loveliest sounds on a dulcimer, a poorly executed one will end your piece with a noisy thud!

Harmonics can be used at the beginning of a piece in at least two different ways. As an introduction to a mournful tune, playing a few slow harmonics of the “home key” note can evoke the sound of a bell tolling. For example, if a tune is in b minor, the piece could open with several harmonic B’s (played as an artificial harmonic at fret 8 of middle string, in DAD tuning). I use this approach in “Mary’s Dream”:
Mary’s Dream.mp3

You will see this below in the tablature version of “Mary’s Dream.”

“Mary’s Dream” is a haunting song about a young woman who learns, in a dream, that her sweetheart has been killed at sea.

Another way to use harmonics at the beginning of a piece is to open with a line or two of the tune played in fretted harmonics. For an example:

If you’re practiced enough at fretted harmonics, you might even consider starting an arrangement by playing through the entire tune once in harmonics.

Finally, harmonics can be used very effectively in the middle of a piece, not only to add sparkle, but also to facilitate smooth playing of the melody line. Here’s an example from “Annie Laurie”:

Note that where the melody line for “I’ll lay me doon and dee” goes up to the high D, a harmonic is indicated instead of a fretted note. The advantage to using the harmonic here is that its bell-like tone continues to ring while the left hand negotiates the subsequent chords, and therefore the melody notes sound connected. In contrast, if we were to play the high D in the usual way, we’d have to quickly release the string at fret 7 to reach the next chord (2-3-5), leaving a noticeable gap in the melody line. Sometimes, in a tricky passage, harmonics can be useful in one more way: if there is a single high note in a melody line, try playing it as a right hand harmonic, so that the left hand does not have to jump up the fretboard but can remain free to negotiate the other (lower range) notes in the passage.

These are just a few examples of how harmonics can add sparkle to our playing. Have fun exploring ways to use them in your own arrangements.

Interview with Jerry Rockwell, Mountain Dulcimer Player & Builder

I admire Jerry Rockwell’s mountain dulcimer playing. He’s got a generosity of spirit that manifests itself both in his music, and in the playing of other players he has taught and influenced. I’m one of them, and some others who have benefited this way from knowing Jerry are Steven K. Smith, Andy Beyer, Stephen Seifert, Bing Futch, and Molly McCormack.

Jerry’s true to the music, and that was demonstrated when he played in an ’09 concert I produced. The show was a tour de force of powerhouse players, but Jerry’s performance was the memory-maker of the evening. The audience felt it. Without words, Jerry conveyed what it means to be centered in the love of the music. The resonant comment about his performance was, “He brought us all back to the music.”

This could not have been done without mastery of the instrument. Jerry was one of the first to thoroughly explore chord theory and improvisation on the mountain dulcimer’s diatonic fretboard. He was one of the first to perform and explain “two-handed tapping.”

Jerry Rockwell’s talents as both musician and luthier have been important to the development of the mountain dulcimer. We’ll start with the music.

This video of Jerry playing the Irish air “The Fair and Charming Eileen O’Carroll” demonstrates the heartfelt way he can interpret traditional folk music:

Jerry’s written arrangement of the piece follows at the end of this article.

Now that you’ve heard his touch on traditional music, here’s Jerry performing some equally beautiful improvisation on his original composition, “Light into Darkness”:

DS: Jerry, can you explain your overall advice to people learning to play the mountain dulcimer?

Jerry: Simple playing can show you the path. Educate your ear…practice…be in love with the music and get inspired by people who play it the way you like. To me, the dulcimer’s magic has to do integrally with the drone. When you are starting out, try to use at least some of the open string drone sound when you can, and you’ll find that the dulcimer will cooperate with you to make some pleasing sounds – sounds that you and others listening will enjoy.

I think it’s a good idea to put simple folk songs you already know on the dulcimer (even starting with one string):  children’s songs, campfire songs, or whatever you grew up with. This doesn’t require any written music. With a little trial-and-error, you’ll find your way. Well-known folk tunes fit on the dulcimer extremely well in most cases. Once you have a little familiarity with picking out tunes on the instrument, there are many fine instruction materials and dulcimer-teaching events to help you at the beginning level and higher.

DS: Jerry, your own musical roots were in rock & roll guitar, weren’t they?

Jerry: Yes, like many guys my age growing up in the 60s, I took up the guitar about the time the Beatles arrived. I loved all sorts of rock guitar styles, from Chicago blues, to surf guitar, to the jingle-jangle of folk-rock. I also listened a lot to jazz guitarists: Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Barney Kessell, Johnny Smith, and others. Jazz was pretty far out of my range, though, and I had nobody to mentor me at that time.

 

DS: How did you start playing traditional folk music?

Jerry: I became interested in traditional folk music right around the time I was leaving my first undergraduate stint (at Plattsburgh State in northern New York) around 1970. I heard the recordings of Mimi and Richard Farina about a year earlier, and the sound of Richard’s dulcimer just flipped me out! I just HAD to get my hands on one, so I took a trip down to the Norfolk and Virginia Beach area, where I found a nice all-cherry traditional dulcimer (probably made by Frank Proffitt, Sr. or Leonard Glenn) in a pawn shop for $75!

At that time I had no idea how the dulcimer worked, and I didn’t really have a book to learn from back then either, though I later got my hands on Jean Ritchie’s classic The Dulcimer Book. So I just sort of went crazy with Farina-like, freewheeling jams and improvisations. After some months, I started thinking it might be better to learn some real folk tunes, and see what some other dulcimer players were doing. It was very difficult to find recordings that featured the dulcimer. I special-ordered a few here and there, and found Paul Clayton’s “Dulcimer Songs and Solos” and maybe a few others. But it was a lonely world back then, and there weren’t any dulcimer festivals. There were some great folk festivals, though, and I did get to a few of them, like the National Folk Festival in DC, and a few others.

In 1972 an LP from the English band Steeleye Span was recommended to me. This was my first real “musical epiphany,” and I have not recovered from whatever fever I caught that day! I went on from that point to get totally immersed in the English Folk and folk-rock revival, getting all the Steeleye recordings, as well as those by Fairport Convention, Richard & Linda Thompson, Pentangle, and many others. I still got goosebumps from English folk to this day. The music is a beautiful, unbroken thread that goes WAY back in history, and tells the stories of the common folk.

Irish folk music also had a strong pull for me. I can remember getting an LP by the great Irish uillean piper Seamus Ennis, probably around 1970. Planxty, the wonderful Irish folk group, had several albums out in the early 1970s. I was totally enchanted by their album, ”The Well Below the Valley.” By the mid-to-late 70s I was living in Vermont and playing all manner of traditional fiddle tunes with the lively community of folk musicians in Burlington. I always felt more connected to the jigs and hornpipes than any of the other Irish tunes.

Besides Richard Farina, the other dulcimer player who had the greatest impact on me was Roger Nicholson, the great English musician who passed away several years ago. Roger’s playing was very delicate and subtle, and that always appealed to me. Roger used the dynamic range of the dulcimer to the max. His left-hand fingering had so much precision and clarity, and he was able to execute ornaments with such grace.

As for ornamentation, I tend to use quite a bit of it in the slow airs I play. To me, they are built right into the landscape of the melody: they draw attention to certain notes, and give some extra drama when you need it. My approach is completely intuitive on the slides, trills, turns, or whatever type of ornament I’m using. I never studied any particular style, or got anything from a book. When you work hard to get maximum expression from your playing, the ornaments should come very naturally.

DS: Do you find that there are pieces of music that “want” to be played on the mountain dulcimer?

Jerry:  As a guitar player, I’m always asking myself the same question: “Why am I playing this on the mountain dulcimer and not on the guitar or uke or mandolin?”  I think I probably bring PLENTY of “guitar-style thinking” to the dulcimer, but I hope that listeners can hear something unique in my dulcimer playing – something that would NOT happen on the guitar. It is often impossible to articulate these subtleties, but the dulcimer has a delicate, very plaintive tone, and lends itself very well to the haunting, magical sound of the drones. I look for purely diatonic MODAL music when I’m looking for melodies that will work on the dulcimer. Celtic music fits this perfectly, and when I’m writing my own stuff, the Celtic influence is often very strong. If there is a hypnotic, mesmerizing dronal quality to the piece, then so much the better!

 

DS: Jerry, you have written several instructional and repertoire books for the mountain dulcimer, and I call the reader’s attention to the list of them at the end of this interview.

 

You have also taught a lot of people about dulcimer playing, both as private students and at dulcimer events. What are your feelings about the art of teaching and where you see them headed?

Jerry: Today my teaching consists of playing sparse and simple arrangements – often arranged in two parts – along with my student(s). I try hard to keep the talk and explanations to an absolute minimum. This helps keep the focus on the enjoyment of the actual process of playing music, and my students love this approach.

 

DS: Jerry, your methods of “two-handed tapping,” on the mountain dulcimer present a very attractive musical option for those of us who play the instrument!  With your permission I am placing here your video on tapping for our readers:

DS: Jerry, in 2007 you made a trip to Iceland with your mountain dulcimer. Please tell us about that!

Jerry: I performed in concert and taught a class on the Mountain Dulcimer-Langspil Connection at the Folk Festival in Siglufjord, Iceland. The langspil is the diatonically-fretted zither that is the Icelandic “cousin” of the mountain dulcimer. Here’s a photo of one, and of the class I taught:

Langspil built by musician/luthier Örn Magnússon.

http://www.grapevine.is/Home/ReadArticle/Langspil

Jerry’s workshop in Iceland.

 DS: Jerry, you’ve been loving, exploring and sharing your knowledge of mountain dulcimer playing for almost 40 years now! You saw a lot of its evolution. How do you feel about current dulcimer playing and teaching, and the instrument’s path in years to come?

Jerry: Steve Seifert’s playing and teaching have always been inspirational to me: he’s really stretching the limits of what’s possible on the mountain dulcimer. I especially like his videos and DVDs. There are some fantastic younger players as well: Jeff Hames, Aaron Thornton, Josh Noe, Aaron O’Rourke, Sara Elizabeth Musgrave, and many more. These folks are a beacon of hope for the future of the mountain dulcimer, and I’d love to see them connect with a larger audience.


DS: You’re as accomplished as a luthier as you are in your playing and teaching. Can you tell us a little about your goals in building mountain dulcimers?

Jerry: I’ve always worked toward building a dulcimer that is very responsive to a delicate touch, and yet able to sustain a single note as long as possible. I’m still working in this direction – basically making dulcimers custom-designed for my own delicate and subtle approach to playing.

Welcome to the August/September 2010 Issue of DulcimerSessions®!

Hammered and mountain dulcimers are different instruments with different playing techniques, but they have a lot of music in common, and many people play both. To make mountain dulcimer music accessible to hammered dulcimer players we usually include with mountain dulcimer tablature the accompaniment chord letters and either notation or sound files. Be sure to check our 40 “Back Issues” that start with 2003 articles on the rudiments of playing both instruments. You’ll find 121 free musical articles in all – courtesy of Mel Bay Publications.

The Mel Bay Publications is the largest publisher of books for hammered and mountain dulcimers. You’ll find outstanding resources for playing techniques colorful music styles by visiting www.melbayxpress.com. Click on “Dulcimer” in the left margin. Click on “Hammered Dulcimer” or “Mountain Dulcimer” or just cruise down the page for a delightful browse of books for both.

This issue of DulcimerSessions.com begins with the following articles:

Featured Mountain Dulcimer Tunes

“Barbara Allen” 

Traditional Ballad for Mountain Dulcimer

This ballad has origins in the British Isles. The version here was collected by Cecil Sharp and published in his 19312 book, English Folk-Songs from the Southern Appalachians. The arrangement here is from the singing of Loraine Wyman. The music of Lorraine, and Josephine McGill, is presented in Mel Bay Publications’ MB98423, Folk Songs of Old Kentucky – Two Song Catchers in the Kentucky Mountains 1914 and 1916, selected and arranged by Ralph Lee Smith with Madeline MacNeil…

“Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair”

by Stephen Foster

arranged for Mountain Dulcimer by Shelley Stevens

The following arrangement is from MB96543BCD, Stephen Foster for Mountain Dulcimer, by Shelley Stevens. Often sung in the Key of F, Shelley has arranged it to the key of D and the familiar DAD mountain dulcimer tuning…

 

Featured Hammered Dulcimer Tunes

Middle Eastern Music for the Hammered Dulcimer

by Deborah Justice

featuring “Ah Ya Zayn” (Oh, Rose)

Middle Eastern music can offer stimulating melodic and rhythmic spice to the usual dulcimer diet of reels, jigs, and waltzes.  I got into it myself back in the late 1990s when my dulcimer and I were recruited by a band of gypsies. Literally. (Okay, to clarify, this was a group of white Philadelphia-area suburbanite musicians working at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.) Forget academic arguments of authenticity – I was hooked on the sound itself. Once I wrapped my head around the exotic, challenging tunes, I couldn’t get enough of them! The music kept taking me further:  to studying Middle Eastern politics and music in college, learning Arabic, playing an Egyptian zither and flute, living briefly in Egypt, and finally to my (almost finished) doctoral work in ethnomusicology. As I taught at different dulcimer festivals, I found that many fellow hammerers were interested in expanding their musical horizons, as well…

Unhurried Hammering

by Rick Fogel, featuring Erik Satie’s

“Gymnopedia Number One”

This article presents the classical melody “Gymnopedia Number One” by Erik Satie. The name gymnopediais that of an ancient Greek festival. Since Satie was French, the French pronunciation is zheem-no-ped-ee(with no real stress on any syllable)…

Welcome to the October / November 2010 Issue of DulcimerSessions®!

Hammered and mountain dulcimers are different instruments with different playing techniques, but they have a lot of music in common, and many people play both. To make mountain dulcimer music accessible to hammered dulcimer players, we usually include with mountain dulcimer tablature the notation and/or sound files and chord letters. Be sure to check our “Back Issues” that start with 2003 articles on the rudiments of playing both instruments. You’ll find 125 free musical articles in all – courtesy of Mel Bay Publications.

The Mel Bay Publications is the largest publisher of books for hammered and mountain dulcimers. You’ll find outstanding resources for playing techniques colorful music styles by visiting www.melbayxpress.com. Click on “Dulcimer” in the left margin. Click on “Hammered Dulcimer” or “Mountain Dulcimer” or just cruise down the page for a delightful browse of books for both.

This issue of DulcimerSessions.com has a simple and a more challenging article/music for each instrument:

  1. An easy mountain dulcimer jamming tune – “Aura Lee” – from FIRST JAMS for the Mountain Dulcimer by Drew Andrews. It contains the written tablature and two recorded versions in progressing versions.
  2. An easy hammered dulcimer tune –Amazing Grace” – from Getting Into Hammered Dulcimer by Linda G. Thomas. Starts with a very simple version and develops two more progressive versions – both in written music and sound file versions.
  3. A more challenging mountain dulcimer technique/tune“Those Sparkling Harmonics” – “Mary’s Dream” by Nina Zanetti. Includes tablature, notation, sound files and video clip link.
  4. A more challenging hammered dulcimer tune – “Be Thou My Vision” – from Shall We Gather by Madeline MacNeil. This arrangement contains basic melody and variations.

 

I invite dulcimer players to submit articles to me for possible inclusion in future issues of Dulcimer Sessions. We offer a small honorarium for those articles use. Requests for articles on new subjects are also welcomed.

Enjoy! See you in our December/January issue.

Welcome to the December ‘10/January ’11 Issue of DulcimerSessions®!

by Lois Hornbostel
We wish you and yours a wonderful holiday season!

Hammered and mountain dulcimers are different instruments with different playing techniques, but they have a lot of music in common, and many people play both. To make mountain dulcimer music accessible to hammered dulcimer players, we usually include with mountain dulcimer tablature the notation and/or sound files and chord letters. Be sure to check our “Back Issues” that start with 2003 articles on the rudiments of playing both instruments. You’ll find 125 free musical articles in all – courtesy of Mel Bay Publications.
The Mel Bay Publications is the largest publisher of books for hammered and mountain dulcimers. You’ll find outstanding resources for playing techniques colorful music styles by visiting www.melbay.com. Click on “Dulcimer” in the left margin. Click on “Hammered Dulcimer” or “Mountain Dulcimer” or just cruise down the page for a delightful browse of books for both.

This issue of DulcimerSessions.com has a simple and a more challenging article/music for each instrument:

  1. An easy hammered dulcimer arrangement of “Auld Lang Syne” followed by an Intermediate version, from ‘Tis the Season Hammered Dulcimer Collection by Jeanne Page.
  2. An Intermediate hammered dulcimer arrangement of “Ding Dong, Merrily on High” from Cindy Ribet. Includes sound file.
  3. An easy mountain dulcimer arrangement of “Auld Lang Syne” from Mel Bay’s School of Dulcimer by Madeline MacNeil. Includes sound file.
  4. An Intermediate mountain dulcimer arrangement of “Silent Night” from Linda Brockinton. Includes sound file.

 

For more Christmas and holiday season music, check out our December ’09 Back Issue!

I invite dulcimer players to submit articles to me for possible inclusion in future issues of Dulcimer Sessions. We offer a small honorarium for those articles use.  Requests for articles on new subjects are also welcomed.

Enjoy! See you in our December/January issue.

Welcome to the February/March ’11 Issue of DulcimerSessions®!

By Lois Hornbostel

Hammered and mountain dulcimers are different instruments with different playing techniques, but they have a lot of music in common, and many people play both.

In our February/March issue we would like to present some music in honor of St. Patrick’s Day.  This issue’s music is certainly played in the Irish tradition, but also throughout the British Isles and around the world. We hope you enjoy these lively tunes! They are all of moderate challenge to play. You’ll have some time to practice them for St. Pat’s Day parties or playing for other people.

For Mountain Dulcimer (with notation and chord letters for hammered dulcimer):

.  “Off She Goes,” from MB95530BCD, Mel Bay’s Complete Book of Celtic Music for Appalachian Dulcimer, by Mark Nelson.

.  “Spanish Lady,” a traditional Irish song arranged by Aubrey Atwater. Included is a video of Aubrey in concert singing and playing the song on her mountain dulcimer.

For Hammered Dulcimer:

. “Down by the Sally Gardens,” from MB20207, Maggie’s Big Book of Celtic Tunes,

arranged by Maggie Sansone.

“Star of the County Down,” from  MB21306, Hammered Dulcimer Arrangements for Special Occasions,”arranged by Peggy Carter.
The Mel Bay Publications is the largest publisher of books for hammered and mountain dulcimers. You’ll find outstanding resources for playing techniques and many colorful music styles by visiting www.melbay.com. Click on “Browse by Instrument” in the left margin. Then on “Dulcimer,” which leads you to the books available for both “Hammered Dulcimer” and “Mountain Dulcimer.”

Be sure to check our “Back Issues” that start with 2003 articles on the rudiments of playing both instruments. Many provide samplings of Mel Bay dulcimer books. You’ll find about 130 free musical articles in all – courtesy of Mel Bay Publications.

I invite dulcimer players to submit articles to me for possible inclusion in future issues of Dulcimer Sessions. We offer a small honorarium for those articles use. Requests for articles on new subjects are also welcomed.

Enjoy! See you in our April/May 2011 issue.

Welcome to the April/May ’11 Issue of DulcimerSessions®!

Hammered and mountain dulcimers are different instruments with different playing techniques, but they have a lot of music in common, and many people play both.

Our April/May issue contains:

For Mountain Dulcimer (with notation and chord letters for hammered dulcimer):

 

  • An Interview with Jerry Rockwell, Mountain Dulcimer Player & Builder. This article contains three videos of music and playing techniques by Jerry. In the first you’ll hear him play the Irish piece, “The Fair and Charming Eileen O’Carroll,” and he has included the mountain dulcimer tablature of his arrangement (for Advanced Beginner players & up), with notation and chord letters.

 

  • “Grandma’s Dulcimer” started as a poem by popular mountain dulcimer player Linda Brockinton. She later wrote a melody to go with it, and both are included in this article. The arrangement is fingerpicked and has as its root several simple chord forms.

 

For Hammered Dulcimer:

  • “Angel Band,” is a beautiful traditional gospel song arranged for hammered dulcimer by Jeanne Page. It comes from her Mel Bay book Bluegrass on Dulcimer, MB20807. As with the other arrangements in this book, Jeanne first presents the basic melody and then a fuller, more arranged version.

 

  • “The Cuckoo’s Nest” is a favorite Irish/Scottish/American piece (sometimes a reel, sometimes a hornpipe). Here it is arranged by Ken Kolodner from his Mel Bay book, Walking Stones MB97348. We have added a video that shows Ken playing the piece in a performance setting!

Mel Bay Publications is the largest publisher of books for hammered and mountain dulcimers. You’ll find outstanding resources for playing techniques and many colorful music styles by visiting www.melbay.com. Click on “Browse by Instrument” in the left margin. Then on “Dulcimer,” which leads you to the books available for both “Hammered Dulcimer” and “Mountain Dulcimer.”

Be sure to check our DulcimerSessions.com “Back Issues” that start with 2003 articles on the rudiments of playing both instruments. Many provide samplings of Mel Bay dulcimer books. You’ll find about 134 free musical articles in all – courtesy of Mel Bay Publications.

I invite dulcimer players to submit articles to me for possible inclusion in future issues of Dulcimer Sessions. We offer a small honorarium for those articles use. Requests for articles on new subjects are also welcomed.

Enjoy! See you in our June/July 2011 issue of DulcimerSessions.com.