Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

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Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby Wellspringsing » Thu Nov 02, 2017 4:22 pm

BS"D

Hello all,

I am planning on switching over to baritone dulcimer. I just really need those deeper tones! As of yet I play maybe four songs, three originals, on the dulcimer. I play in D-A-dd. (Actually for one song I tune down to C-G-cc and capo the first fret.)

Hope I don't sound too ignorant, but I am a little confused. How would I go about playing those songs in the new tuning (AEA I guess?)? I'd like to play them in the same key, as they are vocal accompaniment... is that possible?

Thanks!

-Rachael
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby KenH » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:30 pm

A'EA is the same as DAd and CGc, just several steps lower. All are 1-5-8 tunings. The same tab will work for all three keys.

If it were me, I'd start by putting new strings on my existing dulcimer and tuning down to A'EA. Use the Strothers String Calculator to determine which gauge strings you need (you'll need to know your VSL), then put them on, one at a time... A baritone dulcimer is more or less a standard dulcimer with heavier strings, tuned lower. Most builders don't beef up the structure of their instruments for baritone tunings -- the string tensions aren't really any heavier.

http://strothers.com/string_choice.html
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby Skip » Thu Nov 02, 2017 5:38 pm

Both are 1-5-8 tunings. You can play them using the same tab/fingering. The difference is the lower sound and a key change to A. You can capo at the third fret but it will sound exactly the same as on the DAd instrument. Your other choice is to get a bass which will give the lower sound and you will still have the same options as in the standard D instrument.
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby bradleyi » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:06 pm

Since you want to play in the same key, your best bet would be Skip's second suggestion: get a bass, which would be the same as your DAdd tuned down an octave. You could tune your baritone to A'DAA, but you'd have to make some fingering adjustments for the different string positions. If you're playing chordal accompaniments for singing, the A'DAA tuning would work with different chord shapes, but the bass tuning would probably still be your easiest solution. If you want to go with the baritone tuning I recommend Shelley Stevens' book "Jamming with the Baritone Dulcimer in the Key of D." This book would give you good instructions with the chord shapes and you'd certainly be able to apply that knowledge to other tunes.
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby Wellspringsing » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:59 am

BS"D

Wow thanks, all! This in-depth advice is truly helpful and educational. I actually should have been more specific: I am stringing my regular dulcimer as a baritone soon. My builder told me it's fine and which gauge strings to use. I'm very excited and feel that the baritone tuning will be a lot more suitable for my work. The bass sounds goood too but I think the baritone has more of a balance, (plus I'd rather not spend the money on a bass just now). Who knows what the future will bring-but for now the baritone sound is calling my name most of all.

Thanks again! Exciting new chapter in my dulcimer adventures :D
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby Wellspringsing » Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:00 am

Skip wrote:Both are 1-5-8 tunings. You can play them using the same tab/fingering. The difference is the lower sound and a key change to A. You can capo at the third fret but it will sound exactly the same as on the DAd instrument. Your other choice is to get a bass which will give the lower sound and you will still have the same options as in the standard D instrument.


If I capo at the third fret, will the fingerings be the same? That's what it boils down to for me. That it sounds the same as the D-A-d is fine.
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby Skip » Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:38 am

Not if you plan on playing the melody. You would have to find a new fingering for any note that was on frets 0-2. For example, fret 1 on the melody is now on fret 4 on the middle string, fret 1 on the middle is on bass 5, melody/middle/bass 3 is now an open and 0-2 on the bass are gone. All the notes above should be OK. Some of the fingering combinations/chords, may prove difficult also, and you would need to find new fingerings for some chords, eg., 000, 101, 013, and 002.
Using a capo changes the mode [= fret spacing]. In this case going from D mixolydian to G ionian [both use the notes in the G scale, one starts on D, the other on G]. Another problem is, effectively, you only have 2 strings for note selection/fingering.
Take my post with a adequate dose of salt as I don't use a capo. I have a couple of basses and mostly chromatic MD's. When the group call for a capo, I chord. :)
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby KenH » Fri Nov 03, 2017 4:59 pm

People who play bass dulcimer seldom play the melody. They play bass accompaniment to other players. Many Baritone players do the same thing.

IMHO dulcimer players with little or no experience should avoid using a capo until they get a couple years experience with the instrument, where the various notes are found in different tunings, and understand how diatonic fret spacing works. The dulcimer isn't a guitar and doesn't work like one with a capo. As Skip says, you change not just the note of the strings but also the mode (sequence of fret spacings available to be fretted).
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby Wellspringsing » Mon Nov 06, 2017 6:27 am

Thanks, all.
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby fortytwo » Mon Nov 06, 2017 10:03 pm

You can also tune your baritone ADA. Since I'm a melody/drone player DAA tab fits perfectly for me. Shelly Stevens has a TAB book for baritone tuned ADA. Easy to convert DAD chords if you're a chord player.
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby Wellspringsing » Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:01 am

fortytwo wrote:You can also tune your baritone ADA. Since I'm a melody/drone player DAA tab fits perfectly for me. Shelly Stevens has a TAB book for baritone tuned ADA. Easy to convert DAD chords if you're a chord player.


Thanks... I must profess that my head is very unmathematical. I am having a really hard time figuring out HOW to convert the chords from DAD to ADA...Any tips??
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Re: Converting songs from regular dulcimer to baritone

Postby KenH » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:17 am

If you use the Search function here at ED you can find many, many posts which describe the tunings for a Baritone and how to use them. Basically ADA is a "reverse Ionian" tuning, so you take any normal Ionian DAA tab and flip the numbers for the bass and middle strings.

I found these charts at the Dulcimer Jambalaya blog
baritone-fretboard-ada-tuning-revised-3.png
ADA fretboard


chord-chart-baritone-ada-and-standard-dulcimer-dgd-for-keys-of-d-and-g-cropped-correct.jpg
Accompaniment Chords
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