Converted lap dulcimer tuning... etc

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Converted lap dulcimer tuning... etc

Postby mossanimal » Fri Nov 21, 2014 11:16 pm

So I got my bow, rosined it up and was immediately surprised at how nice it sounds. I have a teardrop dulcimer that my dad made. It had 4 strings and has been tuned as DAD. To convert I've removed one of the D strings and raised the middle string up an 1/8" as advised.

A very basic question... for bowing.. do I keep it tuned as DAD? I feel like I need to take a step back and learn more about music theory on this one...

Another question I have.. I'm assuming at this point.. when practicing scales I should be making sure to only play one string at a time correct? One issue I'm having is difficulty (due to the shape and the bridge type) I'm having a hard time isolating any but the middle raised string. Is this typical when first learning... or could I be handicapped with my converted instrument?? Would it make sense to do a more complete conversion and build a higher and more arched bridge? I have a luthier friend who could help if this would be beneficial...

edit: I've since read through more of the threads in this forum. I didn't notice the second page of posts and saw that playing in DAD is fine. My follow up question will be... what do I use for music once I feel comfortable with the scales? I see there is stuff to download on the Yahoo site.. but I don't yet know enough about music to know what to start with. Does anybody have recommendations for absolute beginner tunes to start with? I came across this video and noticed that he playing quite a nice, simple tune using only the D string. That seems like something I can play with: [url][/url]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HQSVzowMFk8[/url] Also... Last night I also reduced the height of the piece of wood I was using to raise the middle string and that made things easier. I think I had it a little too high which was making it necessary to hold the bow at too abrupt of an angle...
mossanimal
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Re: Converted lap dulcimer tuning... etc

Postby Ken Bloom » Tue Feb 24, 2015 6:13 pm

First of all, I play everything out of the DAD tuning in any key. I do have chromatic frets, so that helps. Getting the geometry right on the instrument is important for ease of bowing. Lap dulicmers usually have the staff about 3/4" above the surface of the top. On my bowed dulicmers the staff ramps up at an angle making it possible for the bridge to be higher. My bridges are usually about 1 3/4" tall. This isn't possible with a converted lap dulcimer. The conversion option is really good to see if this is something you want to pursue. If you decide that you do like it, then it's time to think about getting or making an instrument that is suitable.
I recommend cello bows to all serious bowed dulcimer players. Good bow making is as much an art as it is a craft and I leave that to folks who want to concentrate on that aspect. The choice of a bow is a very personal one. Starting with a bow that you've made yourself is fine. I have made bows for gadulkas but that is a very differentt animal from a Tourte style bow.
I would start with some very simple tunes, especially ones that you are very familiar with and can sing. My old Indian vocal teacher always said "If you can sing it, you can play it!" One tune for you to look at is Lucy Long's Mystery. It's a delightful tune, played slowly and is not too technical if you can manage a D scale. Hope this helps.

Ken Bloom
http://www.boweddulcimer.com
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Re: Converted lap dulcimer tuning... etc

Postby mossanimal » Fri Mar 27, 2015 8:50 am

Just getting back to this. My dulcimer has been down for a while due to some aggressive measures I took to improve sound... lots of wood removal. Anyway.. I'm about back to playing and I'm interested in that tune you mentioned Ken.. Lucy Long's Mystery. I can't find any references to this at all! Can you point me to anything on that?
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Re: Converted lap dulcimer tuning... etc

Postby Ken Bloom » Fri Mar 27, 2015 9:46 am

Hi Scott,

The tune was named for the person that I learned it from, Lucy Long, a fine fiddler from Ohio. She didn't know a lot about the origin of the tune, thus the name. I recorded it on my CD called Bloom's General Store. Since you are a member of the Yahoo bowed dulcimer discussion group, you can find the music easily in the files section of the site. Let me know if you have any further problems or if I can help you through any of this.

Ken Bloom
http://www.boweddulcimer.com
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