Mode/Tuning to Begin Learning

Help for new mountain dulcimer players of all ages!

Postby missy » Fri Sep 06, 2002 11:51 am

Steve - I do use your technique in some songs (Forked Deer is one, no capo, barring on the fourth fret for the "B" part) but for most songs, I can't make the stretch to keep a bar and play melody notes with my thumb. I use my thumb for a good portion of my chords anyway in order to be able to reach. Missy
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Postby Steve Smith » Fri Sep 06, 2002 2:54 pm

Missy - I didn't mean to imply that I play barre chords - sorry! It only works out that way when, for example, in the key of G and tuned D-A-dd I'm playing the melody on the 3rd up through the 5th or 6th fret. Then I would play the 3-3-3 as my ''base'' (in my case using my middle finger on the bass and index finger on the middle) and use my thumb for the melody. If I need the 7th, 8th or 9th fret and still wanted a G chord behind it, I would shift the ''base'' chord up to 5-6-7. 10th through 12th fret I'd shift to 7-8-10 or 10-10-10, etc. The stretches are much easier! The idea is that whatever chord I'm playing with a particular note, I chord using the closest, most comfortable and/or best sounding variation for that chord. If that happens to include a string fretted (or open) ''below'' the point you might have a capo, that option isn't available with a capo. That said, I do use a capo from time to time. (A nice Ron Ewing one - indestructible!) I'm just too lazy to keep putting it on and off, and like the sound better without it. (By the way, have any of you ever watched Mark Biggs play? He does use barre chords, goes all over the dulcimer, and doesn't even use his thumb to fret!)
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