A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

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

Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby Robin the Busker » Fri Mar 11, 2016 8:15 am

Lovely post Dave 8)

It was great to see those clips of the Farina's singing and playing. I was trying to spot all the tunes in the medley Celebrations for a Grey Day. So far I have: frera jacka, old joe clark, Arab theme (not sure where that's from but its used in old movies a lot!), Bonaparte's retreat, good king Wenceslas and there's a couple more I don't know.

The folk scene of the 60s/70s revived a lot of old folk songs but invariably moved the rhythm. Crooked tunes got straightened and, in many cases, rhythms swung. Rather than being 'folk' music I hear a lot of the stuff from that time as being more a 'fusion' of the 50s beat scene with old songs. Personally, I blame the guitar as the tool of homogenisation !!!! It bears the sole responsibility for killing off traditional music in the USA in the same way that the accordion trounced all the zithers in Europe :lol: :lol: :lol:

Robin

PS - Even if I was Catholic I couldn't go to confessional today because my wife is away - and she's the one who would write out the list of all my sins :mrgreen:
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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby dholeton » Fri Mar 11, 2016 9:33 am

Thanks Robin
I had to look in my copy of The Richard Farina Dulcimer Book to find the tunes that are included in "Celebrations for a Grey Day". The tunes were introduced in the book as:
"The order: Frere Jacques-Traditional version followed by Farina's interpretation, Old Joe Clark followed again by a new type version, Bonaparte's Retreat "A" part, then the "B" part, Bonaparte's Retreat "A" then "B" part on the bass string, Good King Wensles, Swing And Turn Jubilee, Darlin' Cory, Bile 'Em Cabbage Down, and Frere Jacques." Wensles is the spelling in the book. Some notes are at the bottom of this post for downloading Richard's book.

I remember when I was in the dulcimer club in Denver in the early 1990's and we worked on "Celebrations for a Grey Day". I remember being totally uninspired to play it because it didn't have any chords. At that time I was mostly a chord melody player and usually didn't want to consider any melody-string-only arrangements. Oh well, live and learn.

The book shows many different tunings used by Richard along with encouragement for readers to make their own tunings (which were called modes in the book). I agree that the guitar had some influence in homogenizing music in the period. It could be used to play any chord if the guitar player could get the fingers to cooperate. Mimi and Richard are a good example of a guitar player and a dulcimer player making some really nice music. Mimi could play any chord that was necessary and Richard was all over the almost diatonic fretboard with a variety of tunings (and Mimi was patient while he retuned).


Neal Hellman made the book available online for free. The url below is Neal's "Liberating Richard" webpage.
http://gourdmusic.blogspot.com/2010/05/liberating-richard.html

At the bottom of Neal's discussion "Liberating Richard" is The Richard Farina Dulcimer Book in a yellow orange color. It is a link to 4shared.com and I recommend not using that link. 4shared presents a pop-up that wants to scan your PC. Be careful of the pop-up, it is not Neal's book. If you land on this site with the pop-up, you can click the X button in the top left corner of the pop up to close the pop up. Clicking anything else will go to a download that wants to scan your computer.

I put Neal's gourdmusic url in this post because Neal has some interesting history on Richard and Mimi. A way to go to the download directly (and bypass the hacker on 4shared.com) is the 4shared.com PREVIEW of the book at the url below. The download button didn't work on my computer at this 4shared.com page either but the book can be previewed and/or printed. If you have a "print to pdf" function on your computer, you can print the book as a pdf file. I tried this method and it worked this morning.

http://www.4shared.com/web/preview/pdf/xx2XcRvK

Dave
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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby philips » Sat Mar 12, 2016 11:50 pm

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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby Robin the Busker » Sun Mar 13, 2016 3:38 pm



Here's the instrument used in another genera.
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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby strumelia » Sun Mar 13, 2016 4:15 pm

That's a very cool and unusual fiddle chunking style for vocal accompaniment. Yeah these young women...and Bucko Futreal's band as well....all so talented!
Though gotta say... Iris Dement's own version of Orphan Girl is the one that makes me cry with its sad yet hopeful beauty.
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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby philips » Sun Mar 13, 2016 10:39 pm













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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby Robin the Busker » Mon Mar 14, 2016 5:01 am

One of the problems with the chromatic dulcimer is that for most applications where I may want to use one (sessions and gigs) I would to have to plug in. The contemporary dulcimer and modern playing styles produce a low volume output, so working in a rumbustious acoustic session is difficult. Older dulcimer designs, set-ups and playing styles I have found have more acoustic 'punch'.

A few years ago we used to have an invite only acoustic jam session at a pub in North Wales. It was a coming together of a few bluegrass players and gypsy jazz musicians. I played dobro mainly but was also asked to take my Galax dulcimer as it adds something quite different to the mix - basically top-end syncopated rhythm. The Galax dulcimer basically hasn't changed since the 1880s (or before), nor has the playing style - noter and whipped goose quill. The 4 strings are all the same gauge and tuned to the same note and the fretboard is diatonic. You'd think that playing is going to be very limited!!!! But this is not the case as long as you realise what job the instrument does - it's a 19th century beat box for dancers :lol: And it is LOUD. I have to really back off when I'm playing or the instrument will overpower the mix because it is so audible above other instruments. Here' a recording from one of those noisy pub jamming sessions; a mix of bluegrass, old time and gypsy jazz musicians:



I think a chromatic dulcimer may have struggled acoustically in that pub jam session? Even the Collins dreadnaught was having to be powered along with a fat jazz flatpick and heavy strings. It is great to have all the notes on a chromatic dulcimer, I'm just not too sure how practical the instrument is acoustically? At the session I played last week I took a Mawhee dulcimer (1870s design and another very LOUD dulcimer), dobro, banjo and mandolin and it was the mandolin that did the job where I may have used a chromatic dulcimer. So, for me (and I emphasise 'for me') I don't see a practical use for a chromatic dulcimer within the mix of instruments I use when playing sessions or gigs.

Robin
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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby philips » Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:17 am

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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby Skip » Mon Mar 14, 2016 9:48 am

So adding frets to these same instruments somehow makes them 'different'?
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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby strumelia » Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:18 am

Skip, I guess it depends on what you mean by 'different'. Taking the frets off a banjo gives you a fretless banjo, which is usually called a fretless banjo since it's not the nrom these days, and you'd definitely have a harder time playing jazz or Mozart on a fretless banjo than on a regular fretted banjo. On the other hand some older greasy-slidey music really shines on a fretless banjo. Putting chromatic frets on a violin would give you something that most folks would call a fretted violin, and a violin player would likely have to adjust or develop a different set of skills to play it well.
Most folks would say that a fretless banjo is 'different' from a fretted banjo and is better suited for certain types of banjo music (I can totally vouch for that, because I play each differently). And most folks would say that a fretted violin is 'different' from a regular violin and that each might be suited for particular musical applications. When talking about mountain dulcimers, my own personal view is that yeah a fretless mtn dulcimer is 'different' than a chromatic dulcimer which is different that a diatonic dulcimer which is different than a dulcimer with 'some' added frets...and each of these instrument embodiments seems particularly better suited to playing certain types or genres of music. A single string dulcimer would be 'different' than a dulcimer with double courses and 8 strings. An electric guitar is 'different' from an acoustic guitar.

I think the question of whether something is 'different' is way less problematic than the question of whether something is "a real ____".
If a musician owns an actual real guitar but calls sit a mountain dulcimer...is it then a mountain dulcimer? If he pulls out a few frets from a guitar to give it the traditional dulcimer diatonic fret pattern...does it then become a 'real' mountain dulcimer? Apparently we could all argue about such things endlessly...but should we?
As Robin Clark said, we can keep debating about the definition of a 'real dulcimer' until the cows come home, and all it seems to do is get people worked up while solving nothing. All musical instruments are 'good' because they create music!
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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby philips » Mon Mar 14, 2016 11:43 am

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Re: A chromatic dulcimer is not "really" a dulcimer?

Postby Skip » Mon Mar 14, 2016 5:17 pm

Strumelia;

I was in a bit of a hurry this AM. I agree with you. My point was adding or taking away frets is a relatively minor thing. Adding frets to a loud MD won't affect its volume any more than removing frets will affect a quiet one. I've also noticed nobody [I think] has mentioned 'Dulciborn' or 'stick dulcimer'.

All in all, I think I may take a bit closer look at the chromatic MD's [lap guitars] most folks call Dobros. :twisted: :lol: :lol:
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