Mode/Tuning to Begin Learning

Help for new mountain dulcimer players of all ages!

Mode/Tuning to Begin Learning

Postby KenH » Tue Apr 30, 2002 4:51 pm

OK, this'll open a real can of worms.... Which Mode should a beginner learn first, and why: Ionian (DAA and similar tunings) or Mixolydian (DAd and similar tunings) ???????????
Last edited by KenH on Tue Apr 30, 2002 5:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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beginning tunings

Postby Gail Knapp » Tue Apr 30, 2002 6:22 pm

Okay Ken, Here is my can of worms... When i started to learn to play the dulcimer, all I had was Larkin Bryants book to go by, and she had beginners tuned to DAA. So, I started with that and stayed in that for the first couple of years. Then I joined our dulcimer club and they are all tuned to DAD, so naturally I switched over to that. I think it all depends on the teacher, or book you are learning from. And also take into consideration if there is a dulcimer club that you will be involved with, what tuning they mainly use. I teach my students to begin playing in DAD...we then can go to other tunings after we are comfortable with the dulcimer,etc. I will also introduce the capo, so we can play those wonderful E minor tunes. I personally play a dulcimer tuned in DAD and another one tuned to CGG. I play with a mixed instrument group for jam purposes every Friday night here in my area. I am the only one that plays the dulcimer. As a rule I have an alto voice and when I sing and play I do that in either C or D, also some of the guitarists and the banjo man occasionally will do a tune in C and then I can play melody with them. Gail K.
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Postby bruce » Wed May 01, 2002 10:09 am

I showed up to my first group meeting with a dulcimer tuned to DAA. That's what the kit said to do. I had no idea you could even tune a dulcimer to anything else. Anyway, the Tom A (our club founder) handed me a huge stack of DAD tab, tuned my dulcimer to DAD, and the rest is history. I didn't have much choice, not that I protested! IMO, go with what you've got available to you! Just plug into a group and keep going! Are there any tunings that should be off limits to newbies? Bruce
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Off limits modes?

Postby KenH » Wed May 01, 2002 11:13 am

Well....Locrian, probably... I only know of one tune in that bizarre mode. Phrygian, too, unless you're of Greek descent Razz .
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My can...

Postby KenH » Wed May 01, 2002 11:16 am

Personally, I play 99.9% in D Ionian (DAA) although since I love Scottish Border Ballads there are a lots of tunes that are perfect in D Aeolian (DAC), that wailing minor mode.... I also recently turned one of my dulcimers into a baritone by upping the string gauges and tuning to A Ionian (AEE).
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Postby SMO » Thu May 02, 2002 8:33 am

I got started in DAD and have never changed. Most folks in this area seem to use DAD. I use it for all my students. I think you can do more with it and I am trying to get them ready to play with most groups in this area. There are some great songs in DGD and DAC as well. Gail, don't stop at Em. Go to the third fret and play in G or in A at the fourth.
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tunings

Postby Gail Knapp » Thu May 02, 2002 4:28 pm

Okay Michael--I've got a question for you and the others that has been bugging me for a long time now and I don't know who to ask without sounding stupid. So, I am trusting you guys to help me out here.Smile If in DAD and I capo the first fret, I know that is E minor. Then I am told to capo up to 3rd for G and 4th for A, 6th for C, etc. Therefore are all the others that I have mentioned also in the minor mode? I know that they are somewhat a octive higher than normal, cause I do sing in C at times, but I cannot sing in the capo-ed C, cause it is too high. Also, when others in our mixed instrument group play minor key songs, sometimes I am able to play harmony with them when I capo. And sometimes not.Frown Are ya'll confused yet? Gail K>
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Postby bruce » Thu May 02, 2002 7:39 pm

Great topic...lots to learn here! Tonight, I tuned to both DGD and DAC and played around. In DAC Greensleeves just kinda fell out. Anyone have an easy tune in DGD...perhaps even tab. Okay, I did it. But, how to I convert the knowledge of DAD chording to these tunings? Well, this warrrants a new topic...I'll make one. Bruce
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Postby SMO » Thu May 02, 2002 11:02 pm

My, that does sound stupid. No, no, no, those are actually great questions. Smile Let me take a shot at the first ones. When you capo to 3, 4, etc, you are in the major key unless it would normally be defined as a minor. Thus Em, F#m, Gmaj, Amaj, Bm, Cmaj as you work your way up. Try something (Cabbage even) capoed at 4 and I know you'll hear it. Believe me, the capoed C is way too high. In the rare times I sing, I'm a bass, so I don't even try it. That's where a 1.5 fret comes in handy. It gives a nice range C chord and the F natural otherwise missing. I know it's not tradional, but there are some great songs for using it. As for the harminizing, I'm not sure. I know that some songs in Em are not capoed . I play them in an open DAD tuning because you need the open D chord. I don't know if that would explain it or not. You've given me something to think about.
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mode/tuning

Postby Gail Knapp » Fri May 03, 2002 8:52 am

Michael, You are right about saying that some tunes are played in E minor without capo, when I am in DAD...I play a shaker tune callled--Oh The Beautiful Treasure-- I play it in DAD, but the music says Eminor without the capo and when a friend of mine at church accompanied me with his guitar he played it in E minor. It was beautiful... It does have a natural minor sound to it. Gailk.
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tunes

Postby Gail Knapp » Fri May 03, 2002 8:58 am

Bruce, I too have been tuning just the last few days and playing around in DGD and DAC. I'm glad to know that Greensleeves can be readily played in DAC. I will try it today. As for tunes in DGD, go to Joe Collins web page and click on the 2 tunes for April, one is called Autumn Lullaby and it is in DGD and beautiful too--Joe wrote it. I think Joe has a link on Everythingdulcimer... After that I sent for a Joe Collins book called Simply Celtic. It has a mix in it but quite a few DGD tunes. Gail K>
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D Aeolian

Postby KenH » Fri May 03, 2002 11:59 am

Here are some more tunes to try in D Aeolian (DAC): Wayfaring Stranger Elfin Knight (Scarborough Fair) Shenandoah Good King Wenceslas, and many other Christmas carols Border Widow's Lament ...almost any Ionian tune played *on the melody strings only* can be played on the same melody string frets in Aeolian mode...
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