Christmas Carol for Hammered Dulcimer

The melody of “Ding Dong, Merrily on High” was first a secular dance tune titled “le branle de l’Official” and appeared in a sixteenth century dance book written by Jehan Tabourot. The lyrics, in somewhat antiquated language, were written much later by an English composer named George Ratcliff Woodward and was published in 1924 in his The Cambridge Carol-Book: Being Fifty-two Songs for Christmas, Easter, and Other Seasons. This is a…

“Spanish Lady” for Mountain Dulcimer

This traditional Irish song captured my attention on folk radio. What struck me was the beautiful melody and rhythm in conjunction with the quirky counting chorus, and the story: a young man is smitten by a woman of questionable reputation washing her feet by candlelight on a late-night street in Dublin. I’ve heard different theories about the counting chorus: that it is “mouth music” or score-keeping for a game, but…

“Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms” an Easy Bluegrass Melody for Mountain Dulcimer

The FIRST JAM series of Mel Bay books was created to give beginners of all ages a book of simple, common tunes to learn. Many are standard “Jam” tunes in the Bluegrass/Old Time music styles. All the books in this series are written in the same keys; they can all be played together without any problems. So get your friends or family who play guitar, mandolin, banjo, ukelele, mountain dulcimer…

A Sweet Fingerpicked Melody for Mountain Dulcimer – “Dream Stream”

Jan’s tips on playing “Dream Stream”:    This is a tune that I wrote with a mystical, dreamy and arrhythmic feeling in mind. The solo recording was made with my dulcimer in a C-G-C, Mixolydian tuning. The tab is written in the standard DAD tuning and is indicated to be played with a flat-pick. It is important to hold the chord shape as long as possible in order to keep…

“Scotland the Brave” Using Different Mountain Dulcimer Drones

The bagpipe tune, “Scotland the Brave,” probably became known around the turn of the 20th Century.  It is considered the unofficial national anthem of Scotland. Many people in the U.S. first heard this traditional melody in the 1950s, when the Ames Brothers recorded contemporary lyrics to it bearing the name “My Bonnie Lassie.”  In the following arrangement, there is a nice change of drone harmonies from playing the A part…

“Silent Night” arranged for Mountain Dulcimer

“Silent Night” was sung first as “Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht” in Oberndorf, Austria in 1817. Written a year earlier as a Poem by Fr. Joseph Mohr, he took it to Franz Gruber on December 24, 1818 to inquire about a melody being put to it for the Christmas Eve service. So “Silent Night” was sung first by Mohr and Gruber, backed by the church choir and accompanied by only a…

“Auld Lang Syne” for Mountain Dulcimer

by Madeline MacNeil This book and companion CD offer a very simple and reliable introduction for new mountain dulcimer players. The following sample from the book is a simple one-string arrangement, along with a recording. Author Madeline MacNeil is using the DAA (‘Ionian’) tuning, which places the tune comfortably on the fretboard; however, if you like to play in DAD tuning, just play the melody on the middle string. It…

Mountain Dulcimer: “Aura Lee” an Easy Jamming Tune!

This traditional Irish song captured my attention on folk radio. What struck me was the beautiful melody and rhythm in conjunction with the quirky counting chorus, and the story: a young man is smitten by a woman of questionable reputation washing her feet by candlelight on a late-night street in Dublin. I’ve heard different theories about the counting chorus: that it is “mouth music” or score-keeping for a game, but…