"Everything's Alright" - opportunity in the extra frets

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"Everything's Alright" - opportunity in the extra frets

Postby Sam E. » Sun Jan 28, 2018 10:31 am

I just released a video of "Everything's Alright," from "Jesus Christ, Superstar," on chromatic mountain dulcimer. Performed live at a coffeehouse in New Jersey.

From a chromatic standpoint this is interesting, because I've been playing the song for a long time, requiring nothing fancier than a 1+ fret. In the bridge, there's a Bb that I've always just bent on the melody string.

I perform standing up, with my dulcimers on stands. In planning my song list for a 30-minute set, I decided that it would minimize instrument changes if I played everything on chromatic. This allowed me to play it on the actual 4+, and also at the end of the second bridge, I did a little build alternating between A and Bb chords that uses the 4+. One of the great uses of the chromatic is to add otherwise-unplayable ornaments or variations to a simpler, existing arrangement.

By the way, the dulcimer was built by Ron Ewing, tuned DAD, played in D. The stand is by Gary Sager.

Enjoy!

Sam

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Re: "Everything's Alright" - opportunity in the extra frets

Postby Ken Bloom » Mon Jan 29, 2018 8:28 am

Beautiful as always Sam. I especially appreciated your attention to articulation. Mozel Tov!!

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Re: "Everything's Alright" - opportunity in the extra frets

Postby Sam E. » Fri Feb 02, 2018 11:58 pm

Thanks, Ken. As you so well know, it's about making music and moving people, not just playing notes. :)

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Re: "Everything's Alright" - opportunity in the extra frets

Postby Ken Bloom » Sat Feb 03, 2018 8:20 am

Amen brother!!

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Re: "Everything's Alright" - opportunity in the extra frets

Postby Robin the Busker » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:58 am

I love your approach to the dulcimer Sam. Your videos are amazing! 8)

Those more 'awkward' time signatures can surprise us, which is why they work. Often they chase the tune along. 5/4 always reminds me of Take Five or the Mission Impossible theme. We think of irregular rhythm as a jazz style but in traditional Appalachian music there are a plethora of 'crooked' tunes that throw in a bar of 5/4 or 3/4 or 2/4 into essentially a 4/4 piece, to chase the tune along. You can hear it in many of the early recordings, even classics such as the Carter Family 'Will the Circle', where the tune is chased along by dropping in bars of 2/4. And there are a number of old tunes where it's hard to nail down the time signature because the timing is built around the lyrical phrases. You wouldn't think that jazz and traditional Appalachian folk music had much in common, but they are closer than you think. Mind you, you could say that about all music :shock:

I remember as a teenager growing up in North London jumping on the tube one evening with some friends to go up town and see the Dave Brubeck Quartet playing somewhere in Soho I think. They played Take Five in 5/4 and Blue Rondo à la Turk in 9/8 that night. I learned Take Five on guitar after that inspirational encounter. I wonder if I could play it in noter drone style? Now there's a thought :lol:

Robin

PS. The major key B part has just fallen easily enough to my noter ;) I'll have to work on the A part :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: "Everything's Alright" - opportunity in the extra frets

Postby Sam E. » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:44 am

Thanks, Robin. Just doing my bit to try and spread our "addiction" to the broader public. :)

The interesting thing about Everything's Alright to me is that, as a listener, it sounds so natural and relaxed that I'm not conscious of it being an odd meter -- only that it has a nice lilt. Take Five has some of that, too. (The verses of Over the Rainbow will work to that beat, too.) The one that really surprised me, though, was the Promenade from Pictures at an Exhibition, which I've dabbled with on hammered dulcimer. Without having counted it or anything, it had never occurred to me that that might be anything other than 4/4, but in reality it switches frequently between 5/4 and 6/4.

Years ago, I went international folk dancing a few times, and learned to think of those odd meters as slow and quick steps. Mission Impossible: "Slow--, Slow--, Quick, Quick."

Take Five on mountain dulcimer? Interesting concept. Give it a shot, and let us know how you make out. I'll be interested in hearing how you do the drones.

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Re: "Everything's Alright" - opportunity in the extra frets

Postby Ken Bloom » Sat Feb 17, 2018 8:41 am

I learned to think about these "odd" meters as groups of threes and twos. The Mission Impossible theme is actually in a cycle of ten 1-2-3/ 1-2-3/ 1-2/ 1-2/ etc. For me it's all about the repeated pattern. Doing a 7/8 is 1-2-3/ 1-2/ 1-2. and so on. A lot of Balkan folk music does this.

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Re: "Everything's Alright" - opportunity in the extra frets

Postby GrantOlson » Sat Feb 17, 2018 10:14 am

I have been interested in odd meters recently too. I am a little awed by a somewhat recent hymn called "How deep the Father's love for us". It is in five four, but it feels so natural you can't even tell.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9FG12eTSbI
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