Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer

Appalachian mountain dulcimer players- make friends, share, learn to play- Free!

OLD STYLE Drone & Noter players


OLD STYLE Drone & Noter players

If you are an avid fan of the older traditional mountain dulcimer playing styles and music, declare your old fashion passion here amongst kindred souls similarly addicted! ;D

Members: 543
Latest Activity: 40 minutes ago

Jean Ritchie playing Shady Grove

Discussion Forum

Writing tunings as intervals among the strings 90 Replies

I am a flat- out dunce when it comes to writing/talking music. (I am a by- ear player and can hear when a thing sounds okay musically, at least some or most of the time.)That said, when I write…Continue

Tags: string, melody, Tuning

Started by Robin Thompson. Last reply by Randy Adams 40 minutes ago.

Church Dulcimer Strings 2 Replies

Hi, I'm a rank beginner here.  I have an old 6 string church dulcimer from the 1970s.  My father made it from a Hughes Dulcimer company kit. It's played with a noter. I played it a little as a…Continue

Tags: Hughes, church

Started by Colleen Hailey. Last reply by Colleen Hailey Apr 15.

Polska 9 Replies

I made up this polska while I was learning to play the Swedish sackpipa. I'm playing it here, noter drone style on hommel, then join myself on the sackpipa and drum.Continue

Started by John Tose. Last reply by Steve Battarbee Apr 6.

Playing chords on Tennessee Music Box 1 Reply

Is it possible, or even practical, to attempt to play chords on a TMB which only has frets under the melody string?Continue

Started by Gary F Smith. Last reply by Strumelia Mar 30.

Teachers 8 Replies

This may not be in the right section but it looked close. Are there any bodies out there that would be willing to take on an older student 44 with limited experience for the noter drone style of…Continue

Started by Shane Floyd. Last reply by James Phillips Mar 29.

New project finished - a `Swedish' hommel 14 Replies

After being much inspired by Peter W.'s versions of a Praetorius 1620 illustration of the German Scheitholt in Sintagma Musicum I thought I'd have a go myself - after all it looked so easy! I could…Continue

Started by John Tose. Last reply by Wilfried Ulrich Mar 27.

Book 5 Replies

Could someone recommend a good book to start with for the noter drone style of play? I would like to have one that picks up right after the “these are called strings, this is a nut, this is a noter,…Continue

Started by Shane Floyd. Last reply by Paul Tantillo Mar 14.

Finding My Way - The Lilac Bush and An Apple Tree 7 Replies

I’m trying to follow the advice of Strumelia, Ken Hulme, and many others on this wonderful blog site to not get too hung up on the way someone else perceives something should be played, or thinking…Continue

Started by Paul Fennewald. Last reply by Helen Seiler Mar 14.

Sigh...strumming.... 26 Replies

Ok so  I got the bum-dittys and boom-chicha-boom-booms but now everything I play sounds the same.  Trying to learn Home Sweet Home -- I have heard this played n/d by several others and I don't hear a…Continue

Started by Maryann Lang. Last reply by Helen Seiler Mar 12.

Church in the wildwood D&N Tabs 4 Replies

I am pretty much a novice and would like to play Church In The Wildwood in D&N style. Is it possible and does anyone know where I can purchase or find the tabs? It is a favorite of my wifes'…Continue

Started by David Temple. Last reply by David Temple Mar 11.

Comment Wall


You need to be a member of OLD STYLE Drone & Noter players to add comments!

Comment by Connie Johnson on July 17, 2013 at 10:45pm

I just received a beautiful McSpadden with an ebony fretboard.  I'd tried a noter on other instruments, but, boy, does this one play smoothly.  Now, I'm getting interested in learning to use a noter and delve into the more traditional styles of playing!  I'll start by reading everything here..thanks in advance!


Comment by Babs Greene on July 13, 2013 at 4:01pm

I have to agree with Jim on making use of whatever gets the job done. Initially, way before SMN came into being, they used tab, it was only standardised so that players of all instruments could read any music whereas up until that point only a lute player could read lute tab and so forth.


I'm not musically inclined, as in I wouldn't know where to find a corresponding sound on a fretboard (keyboard) and it would take me ages to put a piece together, probably years in fact, I'd be so disheartened that I'd give up.


I use tab and SMN simultaneously, along with listening out for changes in a recorded version, this works for me. I've not been playing long and have just played my first entire piece with no sheet music/tab to hand...but for the first few run-throughs, I had the tab alongside SMN sheet in front of me.


The tab, gets me to where I need to be on the fretboard, quickly.

The SMN allows me to see the intervals and whether the music is going up or down in pitch.

I can relate the tab to the SMN by analysing what is going on, so it's teaching me about SMN as well as assisting my learning of the piece.



There are many ways to learn and we have to pick the manner that helps us the most, or even a few variations that get the job done for us as individuals, since none of us learns in the same way; even with shopping lists, I am a visual learner, it's pointless hubby reading it out to me, I see faster than I hear where retention of information is required...that's just how it is for me.


Had anyone seen me playing today, they may easily and erroneously assumed that I learn by ear, after I learned from the written tab/SMN and then put the sheet music aside.

Comment by B. Ross Ashley on April 7, 2013 at 7:58pm

Must echo that. Tab gives me both an indication of the strings to strum and the tuning to play the tune in ...

Comment by RA Harris on April 5, 2013 at 2:22pm

Have to agree with Jim. I use all three - ear, tab, and notation - and I don't feel bad about pulling out the tab. It is what it is --

Comment by Jim Yates on April 5, 2013 at 1:47pm

I must disagree with Ken's opinion that " there's altogether too much tab in the universe."  If you don't want to use it, don't use it, but some folks find it useful. 

There are folks who feel that the only way to learn a song is to use your ear and music should never be written down. 

Others feel that lyric sheets are fine, but it's cheating to write any form of notation.

Others feel that it's all right to use standard notation, but tab is cheating.

I think anything that works for you is fine. 

Comment by Gail Webber on April 5, 2013 at 1:30pm

Here is a link to Bonnie Russell playing Ebeneezer on the Galax mountain dulcimer.  She was 13 at the time and her brother, age 15, is playing on guitar.  My teacher played this for me on a CD he has and I thought it was so awesome that I would share it (also ordered the CD).

Comment by Rich on March 20, 2013 at 4:26pm
I found that learning notes isn't that difficult. When you learn notes the Hal Leonard Christmas music book in his Easy Series is quite nice. It is all in the key of C and has no sharps or flats. I agree with Ken on tab. Rich from Schererville
Comment by Ken Hulme on March 19, 2013 at 2:55pm

Personally I think there's altogether too much tab in the universe. And of course one can Noter or Fingerdance the melody line of any tab. But those aren't the point.

The point is to make a collection of Holiday Tunes, by holiday.  That's not been done before -- here or on ED, and I think it's a worthy idea.

Comment by Ken Hulme on March 19, 2013 at 12:48pm

Good idea 10ashus!  If we keep it for us N&D types we'll build a nice Noter & Drone tab collection.  Too much Chord-Melody tab already  we need more of our own. 

Comment by 10ashus on March 19, 2013 at 12:12pm

Robin Clark's recent posting of Molly Malone as a tune to play on St Patrick's Day has inspired me. What about a Noter Players Discussion Topic for each Holiday, where people could make suggestions for tunes and post tunes that relate to that holiday?

It would be a good reference library to build on and learn from each year. Each new holiday added could start with the word Holiday to make it easy to pull up a Search list. For example; Holiday -St Patrick; Holiday -Valentine.

Please add your comments and suggestions. Feel free to speak out. I unabashedly know, after years of experience, that all of my ideas are not great ones.


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Karen Keane


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Louis Stivali


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Visit Strumelia's Beginner Noter-Drone dulcimer Blog

I have a main blog for Traditional style mountain dulcimer playing here: Mountain Dulcimer Noter-drone Blog This is an old style of playing where you only fret your notes on the melody string, while letting the drones strings ring open. In my blog, I express my personal views about playing, I offer free TAB and free beginner videos, and I try to help beginners understand in a very basic simple way the 'mysteries' of playing the mountain dulcimer in traditional modal noter/drone style.

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