Noter Drone Dulcimer and Guitar

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Noter Drone Dulcimer and Guitar

Postby Robin the Busker » Tue Oct 31, 2017 8:45 pm

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I was looking through some sheet music this evening from the Welsh choir I'm a member of and came across Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn, a traditional Welsh folk tune. I thought it may play well on dulcimer, so I've just worked up an arrangement in noter drone on my old Warren May dulcimer and played around with creating a guitar backing. The recording is not perfect (it's a one take wonder :oops: ) but the tune and concept has legs. I've just emailed it to a guitarist friend who lives a couple of doors away as we are going to play at a local event in a few weeks - I think this tune will make the set ;)

Of course, we all know that you can't play noter drone dulcimer with other instruments; it just doesn't fit the chord changes. And you certainly can't play an old Warren May in just intonation with a guitar in equal temperament; it will sound awful :lol:



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Re: Noter Drone Dulcimer and Guitar

Postby strumelia » Tue Oct 31, 2017 10:20 pm

That sounds lovely Robin! :)

Have you listened to Robin Thompson's noterdrone dulcimer/guitar duets with her husband Mark over on FOTMD? They've been posting (and composing!) wonderful duets together for years now:
https://fotmd.com/robin-thompson/video
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Re: Noter Drone Dulcimer and Guitar

Postby Robin the Busker » Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:55 am

strumelia wrote:That sounds lovely Robin! :)

Have you listened to Robin Thompson's noterdrone dulcimer/guitar duets with her husband Mark over on FOTMD? They've been posting (and composing!) wonderful duets together for years now:
https://fotmd.com/robin-thompson/video


I certainly have been following the Thompson's work - it is absolutely wonderful music. Robin T send me one of their CDs a couple of year's back. I love their compositions they are so evocative of the landscape and culture of the Appalachians.

My comments around Noter Drone and Guitar had more than a hint of irony, which I know does not always cross the Atlantic well! :lol: We have come such a long way in the past 8 years or so since I joined ED. I remember the, shall we say, 'debates' about noter drone playing being a beginner's way to play that had little merit beyond being a stepping stone to 'real' dulcimer playing. And the belief that folks would soon develop musically and then learn to play in DAd chord/melody. I remember being told you couldn't play with DAd dulcimer players in a club or any other instruments if you learnt DAA noter drone coz it wouldn't fit. Then there was the misconception that Homer Ledford, Warren May et al got their frets in the wrong place, so if you bought one of their old instruments you'd need to get it re-fretted 'properly'. And that wooden pegs were impossible to tune, and certainly couldn't be used if you wanted to play with anybody else. Then there was the noter burning incident in Florida :lol: And the endless 6+ and other extra fret arguments :roll:

It has been the perseverance of the likes of you and Ken and Robin Thompson that has myth busted the noter drone dulcimer and showed what a wonderful, creative and actually pragmatic musical instrument the pre-revival dulcimer was and how relevant the style is today. Now, there are those of us who gig, record and play live sessions purely in noter drone style - not because we are 'traditionalists' but because of the styles innate musical ambiance.

Interestingly, when I teach absolute beginners I tent to work from DAd chord melody because it is the easiest 'beginners' way to play or at least the quickest method for getting a good degree of musical success from a class. However, my students see me play noter drone in concerts and at sessions and so some become interested in the style from a musical perspective (rather than a perspective of 'tradition'). So when teaching noter drone I have so far tended to be working with intermediate musicians who want to explore the sound scape that noter drone provides.

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Re: Noter Drone Dulcimer and Guitar

Postby strumelia » Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:12 pm

Robin the Busker wrote:We have come such a long way in the past 8 years or so since I joined ED. I remember the, shall we say, 'debates' about noter drone playing being a beginner's way to play that had little merit beyond being a stepping stone to 'real' dulcimer playing. And the belief that folks would soon develop musically and then learn to play in DAd chord/melody. I remember being told you couldn't play with DAd dulcimer players in a club or any other instruments if you learnt DAA noter drone coz it wouldn't fit. Then there was the misconception that Homer Ledford, Warren May et al got their frets in the wrong place, so if you bought one of their old instruments you'd need to get it re-fretted 'properly'. And that wooden pegs were impossible to tune, and certainly couldn't be used if you wanted to play with anybody else. Then there was the noter burning incident in Florida :lol: And the endless 6+ and other extra fret arguments :roll:


Indeed I remember all those things quite clearly. Presenting another, more positive point of view concerning noter and traditional style playing really felt like swimming against the tide eight or ten years ago. I remember feeling exhausted and discouraged by the persistent negative statements about traditional playing styles being only something that every new player should strive to 'advance' from, towards 'real' playing. It's so heartening that things have slowly changed since then, to the point where noter and drone style playing and instruments are now viewed as valid, beautiful, and respected choices for musicians of any level, in the same way that fingerpicking, bowed, or chord/melody dulcimer styles are viewed. All these styles can stand on their own as creative and endlessly challenging playing options.

Now, there are those of us who gig, record and play live sessions purely in noter drone style - not because we are 'traditionalists' but because of the styles innate musical ambiance.... some become interested in the style from a musical perspective (rather than a perspective of 'tradition').


I think that's an important point Robin. Think about it- Folks love to play in DAd chord style because: they love how it fits with the songs they love to play, or with the people they want to play with, they enjoy the learning process of it, and because they love how it feels to play the style and they love how it sounds ...I'm pretty sure they don't love it because they are obsessed with being 'modern'. Well it's exactly the same with noter or traditional style players!
I'm happy to have seen the changes over these past eight or ten years. Years ago, all too often traditional players were portrayed as being snobby purists intent on forcing others to play like them. But happily it's become more obvious that all of us players, in all styles, simply enjoy and feel passionate about playing our instruments in our chosen style(s) for the musical and personal enjoyment reasons above. It's wonderful and amazing that the mountain dulcimer can be played in multiple styles, enabling a vast sea of music genres and repertoire to be expressively played. The dulcimer brings so much joy to so many people, and all playing styles can be challenging and delightful!
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Re: Noter Drone Dulcimer and Guitar

Postby KenH » Wed Nov 01, 2017 3:03 pm

Great tune, Robin. I might just work that up for myself!
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