I played dulcimer with Warren May today

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I played dulcimer with Warren May today

Postby baker12 » Thu Jul 10, 2003 5:56 pm

I decided to drive to Berea today to visit Warren May's Appalachian Mountain Dulcimers shop. I wasn't there for very long. I was picking around on one of his beautiful dulcimers, and he started to tell me about the dulcimer. I told him that I already played, and I loved the feel of his dulcimer. I was curious about the tuning though, because I couldn't play my regular favorites right away. He told me that it was tuned in Ionian (D-A-aa). He doesn't put the 6 1/2 fret on his dulcimers unless it is specially requested if you buy one of his dulcimers. He said his style is usually playing chords; my style (for now) is playing the melody. I started playing I'll Fly Away, and he joined in on the chords. It was AWESOME! I had such a blast. I really want one of his dulcimers. Did I mention to you that Kentucky is awesome? A couple of weeks ago my P&W band (church band) played at a church in Winchester, KY. I took my dulcimer along to play one song that we do with mountain dulcimer, bazouki, and hammer dulcimer. I knew that Homer Ledford went to this particular church, but that isn't why I took my dulcimer. He wasn't at the event that afternoon, but everyone asked me if I was playing a Homer Ledford dulcimer. I would love to be able to spend that much money on a dulcimer. A woman who lives across the street from me was my music teacher in elementary school. She plays the mountain dulcimer, and a few months ago she told me that she took private lessons from Jean Ritchie back in the 60s. Back to Warren May... I played his dulcimer in Ionian Mode, and it was really easy. I usually play in the Mixolydian Mode, but they both are in the key of D. What are the pros or cons for playing in Ionian compared to Mixolydian? Anyone else play in Ionian?
Last edited by baker12 on Thu Jul 10, 2003 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby kwl » Thu Jul 10, 2003 7:02 pm

Our dulcimer club plays exclusively in DAA. I play in both. There is a thread here DAD or DAA. You can do a search for it. The questions you asked are discussed there as well as in some other threads. I also play in other tunings as well. Much depends on the song and which sounds I like.
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Postby Marc Mathieu » Thu Jul 10, 2003 11:57 pm

Warren May does build a good looking dulcimer alright. I don't know how many of you have seen him on one of those "Yankee Workshop" type of TV program. He demonstrated some of his equipment & explained some of the procedures in dulcimer building. The most impressive tools that he had, was the one that cut all fret slots in one pass. As he said, cutting all the fret slot individually was usually the "bottle neck" of building dulcimers. This "invention" of his, solved that problem. I also like the idea that he uses the natural knot holes in his poplar soundboards as soundholes. A real traditional dulcimer indeed built by a real craftsman. Lucky you Baker12, I would love to jam with this guy & get a live tour of his shop !Wink
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Postby Peter Alway » Fri Jul 11, 2003 10:41 pm

I play in the CGG tuning, the moral equvalent of DAA, almost exclusively. I don't think of it as Ionian, because A) I can't keep all those mode names straght, and B) I play in 2 or 3 modes with that tuning. I guess it's because my only contact with the Dulcimer world was 25 years ago when I got my instrument and a few books to go with it. I have never had any personal contact with dulcimer players, and so I guess I've been in sort of a time capsule, and now everyone plays DAD or at Least DAA with a 6 1/2 fret. Some time it would be fun to play with another dulcimer player, though I'm afraid I might be off on a different musical planet than most players. I don't recognize most of the songs mentioned on these boards; I haven't even heard the "Boil Them Cabbages" song that evidently everyone knows.
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Postby Davef » Mon Jul 14, 2003 8:45 pm

We spent quite a lot of time in his shop last summer when my wife bought her Warren May and I was impressed with the man as a special person. There was a boy of 10 to 12 came and Warren spent so much time with the kid playing and teaching that I was dazzled to see someone just stop to make a child's day, even if you don't buy a dulcimer it is worth the trip to meet Warren. Dave
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Postby Gail Knapp » Mon Jul 14, 2003 9:39 pm

Peter, I understand about you being in a time capsule. Lots of the time I play and perform solo, so if I learn a new song and if I like the song played in a different timing then I play it that way. I just adjust. It would be hard to play some of those songs with others. But I figure if I am going to play solo, thenn I can do what I want and make it sound the way I want. GailK
Last edited by Gail Knapp on Mon Jul 14, 2003 9:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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warren may

Postby wornwhim » Fri Jul 09, 2004 11:49 am

hmmm...I tried to leave a message here and forgot to log in. I'll try again... I am re-opening this thread to share that I visited with Warren May yesterday as we passed through Berea. I fell in love with his dulcimers (Christmas is only about 5 months away). He stopped eating his lunch and showed me chords, played for us, showed us several dulcimers....great time. Just wanted to share! Linda

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