Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

We've got all the notes and we're not afraid to use them.

Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

Postby DulciBob81 » Tue Nov 22, 2016 10:34 pm

Can anyone offer some good comparison details between these two. I'm a dulcimer newbie and am curious about this.
DulciBob81
Junior Mbr (0-50 posts)
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:19 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

Postby GrantOlson » Wed Nov 23, 2016 7:43 am

That's an interesting question. If I know what you mean I can answer it.
A chromatic dulcimer is one that has all of the frets, meaning that there are 12 notes per octave. It would look more like a guitar. You can play it like a regular dulcimer because all the frets are there, but you can also do other things, like blues, ragtime, classical, etc.
Chromatically tuning diatonic, if I know what you mean, is a tuning that Janita Baker developed. It has four strings, usually with an A# string inbetween the middle and melody strings. It is chromatic because you get all of these notes:
--A| | B| | C#| D|
A#| | C| | D| D#|
This shows open, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd frets for the A and A# string. You can see how you could get a chromatic scale.
The main differences are that with a chromatic dulcimer, you can get any note you want any where, as long as it is in range. With chromatically tuned diatonic, you only get a chromatic scale starting at A. Some notes will only be on the A# string, but with chromatic most notes will be in more than one place. With chromatically tuned you cannot strum without the A# string ruining it!
Grant
GrantOlson
Senior Mbr (101-500 posts)
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:41 pm
Location: Minnesota, near Twin Cities

Re: Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

Postby DulciBob81 » Thu Nov 24, 2016 1:49 pm

Thank you very much. You've answered my question excellently. I think I'll make a chromatic dulcimer my longterm goal, as I am interested in many different styles of music.
DulciBob81
Junior Mbr (0-50 posts)
 
Posts: 18
Joined: Mon Nov 21, 2016 7:19 pm
Location: Texas

Re: Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

Postby Steve Smith » Thu Nov 24, 2016 5:46 pm

Actually, there are "chromatic tunings" which are strummable. Instead of Janita's D-A-A#-d four-string tuning I like D-A-c#-d. I use it both for fingerpicking and for strumming. As with any new tuning you can't play the chord patterns of tunings you might be used to, but there are chords that work fine. I'm sure Janita's tuning can be strummed, too, if you take the time to work out the patterns.

But the D-F#-A three-string tuning is somewhat popular, and quite "strummable", and it also allows you chromatic notes if you need them.

So don't give up!
Steve Smith
Super Mbr (501-2000 posts)
 
Posts: 1399
Joined: Tue May 21, 2002 9:29 am
Location: East Flat Rock, NC

Re: Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

Postby Sam E. » Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:23 am

When I took up the mountain dulcimer, I made some very basic strategic decisions, which have worked extremely well for me:

> I decided to play 3-string, rather than 4-string, because the better fingers-to-strings ratio gives me more flexibility per string.

> Learn one tuning really, really, really well (rather than many tunings with just acquiring a working knowledge). The one tuning I use almost exclusively is DAd (1-5-8).

> If I need to add extra notes, I'd rather do it with extra frets, not extra strings or extra tunings. Chromatic fretboards are nothing to be afraid of -- ask any guitarist.

Some great players who have taken different approaches, and I applaud them, but this has allowed me to do many interesting things.

Sam
Sam E.
Senior Mbr (101-500 posts)
 
Posts: 250
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:04 am
Location: CT

Re: Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

Postby GrantOlson » Mon Nov 28, 2016 8:55 am

That's what I have done too; used three strings because my teacher suggested it, and had some extra frets put in. I still enjoy playing Janita Baker's tunes, but I have to take longer to work them out on three strings. It also means that I sometimes have to bend the string, or just leave out the note.
Grant
GrantOlson
Senior Mbr (101-500 posts)
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:41 pm
Location: Minnesota, near Twin Cities

Re: Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

Postby Strum-Numb » Mon Nov 28, 2016 12:40 pm

Sam E. wrote: > I decided to play 3-string, rather than 4-string
> Learn one tuning really, really, really well
> If I need to add extra notes, I'd rather do it with extra frets

This is the same philosophy that I have come to use.
I am nowhere near the player that you are Mr. E, and may never be...
...but it is very reassuring to me, reading that my exact thoughts on this are in tune with your own.

A personal choice and philosophy for sure, and not for everyone.
But, I have come to this same exact conclusion for my own experience.

I was enthralled with dulcimer music, the folk sound, the history, the origin.
I began to study and play a bit... and then...
...I stumbled across a Sam E. video on YouTube.
The one with Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love.
Blew my mind.

Right then and there is when I decided in earnest to master this instrument.
I'm still working on that. Probably will be for life.

Then I came in from the field one day from planting turnips and picking collards and googled up "dulcimer stuff".
I ran across a Dulcimerica podcast about the pentatonic blues scale by Bing Futch.
At the end of the segment, Bing says:
I want you to go out there now, I want you to plant some turnips, and some collard greens. I want you to come back inside with your feet all dirty like a pirate, and play some blues.

I had to clean and process the collards I'd been picking, and needed to go back out and plant more turnips...
...so I took my old beat-up dulcimer with me, and began playing the blues to the chickens and turnip patch.

Very soon after that, I was ripping the strings off and added the 6 1/2 and 1 1/2 frets to my dulcimer to gain more "Blues" notes. Best thing that ever happened to me and that ol' dulcimer. Love it.

If you would like to feel inspired by these same influences, check out the videos:


User avatar
Strum-Numb
Senior Mbr (101-500 posts)
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:09 pm

Re: Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

Postby GrantOlson » Mon Nov 28, 2016 5:20 pm

Those are some pretty cool videos! It really shows how versatile instrument.
Grant
GrantOlson
Senior Mbr (101-500 posts)
 
Posts: 234
Joined: Wed Feb 10, 2016 2:41 pm
Location: Minnesota, near Twin Cities

Re: Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

Postby Strum-Numb » Mon Nov 28, 2016 7:24 pm

Yep Grant, and fret wire is really cheap too.
Need more notes? Slap a few more wires down on the fret board 8)

There's nothing prettier than traditional-style playing, noter/double melody string style. I sincerely love to hear it, and to play like that. Some folks are amazing, with what they can do. And that truly is what drew me into dulcimer to start with.

For my own personal experience, I have made the same strategic choices that Mr. E described.
I was amazed when I read his post, as I have recently come to that same conclusion for myself.

That and the crazy coincidence of coming in from planting turnips to hear Bing Futch talk about planting turnips.

Pretty amazing coincidences. I must be doing something right ;)
User avatar
Strum-Numb
Senior Mbr (101-500 posts)
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2016 10:09 pm

Re: Chromatic vs chromatically tuned diatonic.

Postby Sam E. » Sat Dec 10, 2016 7:33 pm

Thank you, Strum-numb, for those wonderful words. One of the most rewarding things about having music out on the Internet, where strangers can stumble across it, is hearing how it has inspired them.

I contend that "The Folk" always played popular music on dulcimer -- but back before cars and radios broadened people's horizons, "popular" tended to mean the music that your kin and your neighbors enjoyed playing. So while I love traditional folk music, I strongly believe in trying other kinds of music, too. Remember, 100 years ago, guitars weren't much used in popular music, either.

And don't worry about being "better" than one player or another. The object of the game is to enjoy making your music, at whatever level you wish, by whatever measures are meaningful to you. There's room for all of us and millions more. :D

Sam
Sam E.
Senior Mbr (101-500 posts)
 
Posts: 250
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2009 1:04 am
Location: CT


Return to Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests