Friends of the Mountain Dulcimer

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We got a Christmas song book at class last week, "Christmas Duets for Mountain Dulcimer" by Larry Conger.  We are going to be playing songs from it at Christmas at Tamarack.

I have been trying some of the songs and they actually sound pretty good.  Of course, I'm very slow, but Silent Night sounds like Silent Night and it is so pretty played with chords. 

I think I am getting the whole concept of using chords and parts of the chords to play songs.  I'm still not sure what it's called, maybe fingerpicking.  No, I think it's called "flatpicking".  I'm not even sure I'm doing it right.  I'm using a pick, not using the thingies that fit on your other right hand fingers. 

All I know is that I can actually play Christmas songs and they are very pretty.  I like this!

i was 64 this week, and I hope I have a lot of time left to play my dulcimer.  Of course, i want to do other things, too.

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Comment by Brenda Joyce Rivers on December 7, 2011 at 11:47pm

Ken, you really explained the styles simply.  I understand.  Garey, I understand about the "picking", too.  I'm so glad you all posted and explained, it's really helpful.  When I started classes at Tamarack, it was a couple of months before I realized she was teaching Chord/Melody, and after I figured it out, it made more sense.

We are having a little concert at Tamarack on Dec. 21.  We'll be playing Christmas songs across from the food court.  Everyone is welcome to come and see us be REALLY NERVOUS!

Comment by Robin Thompson on November 19, 2011 at 11:48am
A belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Brenda!
Spending time at Tamarack sounds heavenly. "Silent Night" is one of my favorite carols.
Comment by Beth Hansen-Buth on November 18, 2011 at 11:12pm

Tis the season and it's fast approaching! During my last dulcimer lesson I mentioned that next time I want to learn some Christmas songs, and she asked me if I wanted to learn anything in particular, so I said "The Holly and The Ivy" and she wrote out the tab for it right then and there! I've been playing it ever since, Chord/Melody style.

A quick hunt around the internet yeilded this link on the Strothers' website for tab that you can download for your use: http://www.strothers.com/christmas_tabs.htm 

I'll be diving into those next, I just want to get the first one down a little bit better.

Comment by Ken Hulme on November 18, 2011 at 10:33pm

If you're playing chords for each note of the melody, we call that Chord-Melody style.  If you play the melody only on the melody strings while the middle and bass strings drone it's either Melody-Drone (one finger), Fingerdancing (multiple fingers) or Noter & Drone (stick in the left hand).

Comment by Garey McAnally on November 18, 2011 at 8:47pm

The terms flatpick and fingerpick come from guitar styles, that have migrated to the dulcimer.  Most bluegrass and old-time guitar players flatpick (Maybelle Carter and Merle Travis developed  their own styles).  Classical and Spanish guitarist fingerpick

 

Flatpicking is strumming the dulcimer, with a pick.  You can just stum all the string, or mix it up: pick the melody on 1 string and add some other strings to form chords.  You can also use patterns, like bass/strum, or alternating notes on bass or middle with chords.

 

The 'thingies' are fingerpicks.  But you can fingerpick without fingerpicks - dat's confoosin'  

Fingerpickers pick with the strings with their individual finger (with or without fingerpicks).  Often fingerpickers use arpeggios: ex. with left hand on chord- play individual strings in a pattern - melody, middle, bass, middle.  But you can play 1 note, 2 notes, or all 3.  You might check some videos to see if you can spot the style.  You can also look at TAB and see the patterns and flow of notes in different styles.

I'm real good at muddying the waters . . . hope I helped. 

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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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