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After posting in other places here, I found this discussion.  I need a chord chart to show me the chords I can play in DAA, which is what I play in most of the time.  Are chords for CGG the same or different.  I only have one song I play a lot in CGG.  I'm totally lost when it comes to chords, but it's at the top of my "to do " list now.  thanks

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Brenda, here is the link to the Free Tab resource at Everything Dulcimer: ED tabs.  It is an alphabetical list.  If you scroll down to "chords" you will see chord charts in pdf format for DAD and DAA.


Are chords for CGG "the same" as chords in DAA?  No, for you are in a different  key, but you can use the same fingering. That is, the fingering for a D maj chord in DAA is the same as for a C maj chord in CGG.  Notice in the charts at ED the roman numerals.  What that shows is the relationship among chords to make it easier to transpose from one key to another.


If you are new to chords, there are at least three different approaches, one theoretical and two practical.  You could learn the theory behind how chords are constructed so that you could find any chord you want on the dulcimer in any tuning.  There is an advantage to understanding chords on that theoretical level, but it will take a while.  If you just want to play, you could learn the small number of patterns for the main chords on the dulcimer and then develop strategies for establishing which chord to use based on the melody note.  And if you just want to get started playing chords right away, learn the positions for the I and IV chords and strum Aunt Rhody while you sing.  When you feel comfortable, learn the V chord and 75% of the songs you know will be at your disposal.


My suggestion would be to take all three approaches and do them in reverse order. Learn the basic three chords down near the head of the dulcimer using some open strings.  Play and sing to your heart's content.  Once those three chords feel safe and secure, learn some alternatives for them higher up the fretboard.  Sing the same songs playing higher up.  And then when you are comfortable with that, you will already have the basic patterns down. Learn enough of the theory so that you know which notes should be included in each chord and where they are in each chord pattern, and then you can begin to decide which voicing of a chord is best given the melody note.


You should be able to strum basic chords to accompany a basic melody pretty quickly.  The rest may take some time.

Hi Brenda - I recently a DAA chord chart and seome notes onth e chords here - I've been fingerpicking chords in DAA to accompnay myslf to songs for many years - Dan   

Since I usually play in DAD, I like playing Ionian by tuning DGD (simply tuning the middle string makes two modes easy  to reach).  The DAA chord charts and tab are easy to change to DGD- if you have a DAA chord, swap the fingering for the bass and middle. 

A quick and easy way to chord in DGD is to play the middle string 1 fret behind the melody string :

0  0  0  0 BASS

1  2  3  4 middle

2  3  4  5 melody


This does not work for the 1st and 7th melody string. Instead, play bass and melody strings on 1st fret (also 7th):

1   7

0   0

1   7   


Hope that's clear as mud.  

Reply to all!  Actually, I have been reading, reading, reading, and have tried 3 songs, and they don't sound half bad.  I think I am beginning to understand a lot of what you're saying.  The rest is clear as mud.  My left hand is very tired and my fingertips are hurting, but I'm getting there. Thanks for all the suggestions.  I will practice!
Dusty, in your post above, when you talk about learning the basic chords to Aunt Rody, you mention I, IV and V. I'd like to practicd that but, forgive my unabashed ignorance, I don't know what you mean by chords, I, IV and V. Would you mind explaining that bit?


Hi Airin. Noting chords using Roman numerals is a way to indicate chords in any key. You can find out more here, although I find some of that discussion a bit too advanced theoretically.


The numbers refer to scale position and the use of upper case letters indicates a major chord.


In the key of D, D major is the I chord, G major is the IV chord, and A major is the V chord. I sometimes tune to CGcc, in which case I am in the key of C, so C is the I chord, F is the IV chord and G is the V chord.  I also have a baritone dulcimette made by Ron Ewing, which I usually tune AEaa.  In the key of A, A is the I chord, D is the IV chord, and E is the V chord.  Sometimes I tune that instrument down a step, too, so I am tuned GDgg and am in the key of G, in which case G is the I chord, C is the IV chord and D is the V chord.


All these tunings are 1-5-8 tunings (those numbers also refer to scale positions) and the fingering you would employ wouldn't change.  So in any 1-5-8 tuning 0-0-2 is a I chord.  Again, the use of the Roman numerals allows us to refer to chords in any key.


And there is a bit more to it as well.  The use of the lower case indicates a minor chord.  So in the key of D, the vi chord is Bm.  Sometimes Arabic numerals are added, as in V7, and that just means the major chord based on the 5th position of the scale with a seventh note added. In the key of D, the V7 chord would be A7, or A,C#,E,G (of course, on a three-course instrument you can't really play all four notes simultaneously).


I hope that makes sense.  Perhaps I offered too much information and only clouded the issue. Since any song can be played in any key, using Roman numerals to indicate chords allows us to indicate a song's chord changes in a generic form that is easily converted into a specific key.

Ok, yes, I think I got the geist of what you are saying....though I will re-read it a few more times. :-)

So, for Aunt Rhody, in DAD tuning...I'll work out what those three chords will be....based on what you've said...hopefully..



"Go Tell Aunt Rhody" only involves two chords.  Tuned DAD, begin by playing D (or I) as 002 and A (or V) as 101.  I've written the song here with the chords in red over the corresponding words. You should keep strumming that chord until the next one comes.  Once you have this song down, learn the G or IV chord (013 in DAD) and then you can play 3/4 of the songs you know.



I appreciate your help Dusty.

A couple of questions:
I play A as 101 but why did you write it as A7 in red? Maybe A and A7 are the same chord?

I play A and D chords as written while I sing this piece but it sounds a little off key...could be my singing

A and A7 are not the same chords, but A7 involves 4 notes, so on the dulcimer you have to ignore one of them.  You could try 103 or 301 to get the 7th note on that chord.


Also, on the second time with the line "Go tell Aunt Rhody" you might want to go back to the D chord at the last syllable of "Rhody" rather than waiting for the next line to begin.


My singin' ain't nothing to celebrate either!

Ok, got it!

thanks again Dusty!


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