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…

“Grandma’s Dulcimer” for Mountain Dulcimer

by Linda Brockinton Several years back I went into a flea market and found a dulcimer abandoned on the floor. How sad it was to see this instrument that once held so much music just tossed away after someone died. It always makes me sad to see music and instruments discarded, knowing that someone who loved music used to play them. To me it’s like seeing little orphan children abandoned.…

Mountain Dulcimer Blues 101

By Bing Futch Music is a language much like English, German, French or Kacipo-Balesi. If you think of 12 chromatic notes like our 26 letters of the alphabet in the western English language – those same 26 letters (sometimes with diacritical markings) can order coffee in Spanish, beer in German and pastry in French!  The song form known as blues is based in and around certain musical notes, chord progressions…

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…

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…

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…

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…