convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

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convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

Postby Casper » Tue Jun 28, 2016 12:16 am

A while back I found a youtube video where some nice fellow made a simple chart for converting harmonica tabs to dulcimer. Of course I lost it and can't find it. I got on it with thinking and have taken what I am sure is something simple and completely confused myself.

So here is my thinking. If you don't care about the key this should be simple, right? A diatonic tab for a C harmonica should have the same intervals as a standard diatonic-fretted dulcimer. So there should be a table one could make that would take a diatonic C harmonica tab and convert it to fret numbers for the dulcimer.

I have made such a table and it just doesn't sound right. Then I made another and that one didn't work either.

The diatonic C harmonica does a C scale with blow and draw on various holes. It follows a pattern of blow/draw and blow is the hole number and draw is a minus sign before the number. The pattern changes at the seventh hole. Here is a C scale on harmonica from low to high.

C 4
D -4
E 5
F -5
G 6
A -6
B -7
C 7

That is how I understand it. I am open to corrections from those who may know better than I. So how do I construct a chart for a conversion that should be simple?

Here is an example from harptabs.com . A diatonic harmonica tab is indicated by a red squiggle in the column to the left of the song name on the main page or on some tabs it just says diatonic. As they may have one or two songs that make the copyright fairy blush a bit I have chosen an oldie...

Here is the harmonica tab...https://www.harptabs.com/song.php?ID=17 where you can see the original formatting as a bit of that was lost in the copy and paste.

4 4 5 -5 6 5 -4 5 -6 -6 -6
Oh, give me a home where the buf-fa-lo roam,
6 -6 7 4 4 4 -3 4 -4
Where the deer and the an-te-lope play
4 4 5 -5 6 5 -4 5 -6 -6 -6
Where sel-dom is heard a dis-cour-a-ging word,
6 -6 7 4 4 4 -3 -4 4
And the skies are not cloud-y all day.
6 -5 5 -4 5
Home, home on the range,
4 4 4 5 5 5 -4 5 -5
Where the deer and the an-te-lope play.
4 4 5 -5 6 5 -4 5 -6 -6 -6
Where sel-dom is heard a dis-cour-a-ging word,
6 -6 7 4 4 4 -3 -4 4
And the skies are not cloud-y all day.

I do have this tab in a couple places and it is a bit different in each place. I am not looking for a tab specifically for this song but a method for converting diatonic harmonica tab to a diatonic dulcimer.

It should be simple but right now my brain is tapioca pudding on this subject.
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Re: convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

Postby GrantOlson » Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:58 am

I know absolutely nothing about harmonicas. However, I can understand it a little. Based on what number each note is a chart would look something like this:
4 ----- 3
-4 ----- 4
5 ----- 5
-5 ----- 6
6 ----- 7
-6 ----- 8
-7 ----- 9
7 ----- 10

This would put it into Ionion tuning on the dulcimer. Your right, the key doesn't matter. The dulcimer tab is just a bunch of numbers; you can tune to whatever you want. However, would you use those numbers in a harmonica tab even if the song was not in the key of C? If so, you could still use this chart. If not, and you use different numbers for different keys, then it would be a little more difficult.
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Re: convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

Postby Skip » Tue Jun 28, 2016 10:02 am

The the note spacing is always Ionian when 'Key' is the definition specified. Any conversion chart would then always start with the 3rd fret without any half/+ frets. The chart should include all ten holes also [3- 13].
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Re: convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

Postby Casper » Wed Jun 29, 2016 12:22 am

Thank you both for your fast replies. I would keep in the same key all the time so this should work for any song with no accidentals. In addition to all the tabs with diatonic harmonica that have no bends I have a small collection of songs in C with no accidentals I accumulated on another project.

I now have a working chart and I appreciate it very much. I just extended based on Skip's recommendation with what you kindly posted Grant. It starts with low B, a 3 draw, and goes to a high A, a 10 draw. The 10 blow doesn't follow the sequence but that is just one fret from the top of my dulcimer. Below 3 draw it also doesn't follow the sequence but as there isn't too much that goes below low B even I can sound that out. I can search harptabs and just look for diatonic tabs labeled beginner as most of those have no bends. There are a lot of them.

Here is what I used to extend the chart after reading your posts.

http://harmonicatunes.com/harmonica-notes/

Again I thank you Grant and Skip. My body doesn't do what it used to and now I can play many songs with just the melody string and a happy drone now and then.
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Re: convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

Postby Robin the Busker » Wed Jun 29, 2016 6:04 am

Hi Casper,

I have read through this thread with interest and there's a lot of thought gone into your work so far. I can't help thinking though that perhaps simply learning to read the original sheet music would be a better idea for both instruments? Take something like this as an example:

http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/cowbo ... 004612.HTM

Personally, that simple standard music notation is the format I'd prefer to be presented with for both melody (noter) drone dulcimer and harmonica - and miss out the step of converting to TAB altogether. By the time you've sat down and written out the TAB you could be well on the way to learning how to read the melody, phasing and timing direct off the sheet music. I'm not talking about sight reading speed here, simply working out the tune from the standard music notation and then using the score as your reminder as you learn the tune. Regarding keys - I like to find tunes written in G when playing DAA dulcimer because the notes are more centred on the staff - I just pretend my dulcimer is in G although it is in D, just as you are suggesting with harmonica/dulcimer TAB. I also use D and C music if that happens to be what I find the tune is in (although now I'm happy reading pretty much any key and mentally converting it to DAA). There are thousands of free simple melody line pieces of music on the internet. In fact, if I'm looking for a tune (as I did to find 'Home on the Range' for this post) I use Google Images and just type the tunes name into that - it usually does the trick!

The advantage of learning to read simple melody line sheet music and NOT translating it to TAB is that a different part of the brain is engaged in the process. As you learn a tune, quite quickly you will stop going through the verbal centres and the notes on the page will become sounds rather than names or fret positions - so you end up learning the tune 'by ear, by sight' which means you can get away from needing the music to play the tune far quicker than you can get away from needing TAB to play the tune. So a little more time spent at the beginning just working out the basics of the tune straight from the sheet music is paid back by the shorter time spend trying to 'memorise' the tune off TAB. Also, in the future, you will be able to pick up the sheet music and hum the tune whilst following the dots with your eyes thus reinforcing your learning, which is something you can't do with TAB.

For chord melody playing TAB is useful to show the arrangement of chord inversions someone has produced to play a piece. But for noter drone playing I strongly believe that TAB is a backward step and does not do your students any favours at all beyond the first one or two lessons. In my experience, folks are far more capable than they believe and with simple guidance they can pick up reading single melody line music without issues.

Robin
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Re: convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

Postby Casper » Thu Jun 30, 2016 12:46 am

Robin,

Thank you for the idea. I think you have a good point with learning to read standard music. Once upon a time in the days when Captain Kirk and Spock first explored space I played a saxophone. I read standard music notation then and didn't have a problem with it. The dulcimer is a simpler instrument and I do have that collection of songs in C with no accidentals. If I assign C to the third fret and proceed from there it won't be in the original key but I can read straight off sheet music. I have a lot of ukulele music in C with no accidentals too.

Besides if I want to use this method to play in another lower key I can always get a baritone dulcimer, can't I? Seems like a good enough reason to me.
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Re: convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

Postby Robin the Busker » Thu Jun 30, 2016 8:03 am

Besides if I want to use this method to play in another lower key I can always get a baritone dulcimer, can't I? Seems like a good enough reason to me.


It is even simpler than that Casper. You can read the music in any key, it doesn't matter if the key signature has sharps or flats as long as there are no accidentals (although with a noter you can also play accidentals!). For example: Yesterday I received a packet of goodies from the Athens, Alabama dulcimer club so I thought I'd have a go at playing the Alabama State Song and see if I could record a version to post here on ED next week. Having had a quick look around the web, the tune seems to be usually written and sung in the key of F (a good key for mass voices) and I found this simple version on the internet:

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-X_KUNUGIJSM/U ... labama.png

From DAA tuning I simply allocated the key note note 'F', which also happens to be the first and last note of this tune, to the 3rd fret and then followed the music score. I was 'pretending' that my dulcimer was tuned to FCC ionian, which has the same intervals as DAA Ionian. You can play every Ionian tune written in any key from DAA, you just allocate the key note of the tune to the 3rd fret and follow the pattern of intervals between the notes. So that Alabama State Song would start 3,3,5,3 1,3,1,0 and so on. This would be exactly the same if the music was written in the key of C or the key of G or the key of A# or any other key. The intervals (gaps) between the notes would remain the same no matter what key the tune was written in on the sheet music.

If you want your dulcimer to 'sound' in other keys then you can retune it. As long as you keep the intervals between the strings the same (and the strings will physically stretch or slacken to the pitch) you could re-tune to perhaps CGG or EBB or FCC and still follow the same process. This would be like picking up harmonicas in different keys - the physical playing is the same, they just 'sound' higher or lower than each other. You could buy a baritone dulcimer to play in a different key but, unless you are looking for that lower timbre, you could simply re-tune the dulcimer you have.

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Re: convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

Postby Casper » Thu Jun 30, 2016 3:13 pm

Robin,

Thank you again for your thoughtful reply. I have always been curious about your handle. I have busked a few things but never music. It is actually on my mind but that is another discussion.

I see your point about DAA...never thought of it like that. Set it all to start the key note on fret three. Like I mentioned, I am just beginning on this instrument. Also though I have used a slide I never thought of using a noter to get the half-steps. Thank you for that.

I have two extra string sets and will take the A string from each set and change my DAdd to DAAA. The melody string is the same octave as the middle string, is that right?

All these replies have been helpful in a very practical sense and I thank you all.
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Re: convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

Postby Robin the Busker » Thu Jun 30, 2016 4:41 pm

Hi Casper,

There's some info on how to catch those half notes between the frets with a noter here towards the end of the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JK2OBzrZ8IU

You are right that the A middle and A melody strings are the same octave. On most standard dulcimers (around 26.5 to 28.5 VSL - distance between the nut and bridge) the string gauges of 0.022w bass and 0.012 middle and melody strings seems to work OK for DAA tuning.

Regarding my handle. I run a music company called Busker Limited in the UK and that did get the name form me busking locally and then moving into guitar sales. There was another 'Robin' already on ED when I joined so I chose Robin the Busker but it was a spur of the moment choice when faced with the registration form rather than something with any thought behind it!

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Re: convert hamonica tabs to dulcimer?

Postby Casper » Thu Jun 30, 2016 10:08 pm

Robin,

Thank you for the youtube link. I am downloading it onto my phone as I write this.

My VSL is 26 inches but I will figure it out.

You have a great story about your handle. Mine is just named after a grey cat who is under my chair at the moment. Stinky boy. Purrs a lot.

Craig
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