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Showing content with the highest reputation on 05/31/2021 in Posts

  1. How To Become A Better Dulcimer Player - 21 Three Approaches To Playing The Same Song As in all my articles, nothing is written in stone. They are merely suggestions to make you a better dulcimer player. Why would you need three approaches to playing the same song? The answer is that it depends upon the type of play and the venue of where that song is played. We will discuss group playing at a jam or in a club; group playing at a performance; and solo playing in any situation. Let us begin in group play. Whether in a jam or in a club situation we just whip out our music and start playing, right? Well, maybe not. In this type of situation, you have the great latitude in playing. Different arrangements of the song can be played together as long as the chord changes are the same and at the same position in the music. Yes, you can deviate somewhat from the written chord changes by substituting a minor chord where there is a major chord. For example: Instead of play a D-chord, you may substitute a Bm-chord (as long as it sounds good). In all group settings it is important that everyone be on the same page. It is up to the group leader or whoever calls the song to set the tempo and give a lead-in so that everyone knows when to start playing and at what speed. Playing a recognizable phrase from the song is always a good way to lead everyone into the song. For example: In the song, “Amazing Grace”, a good place to play your lead-in phrase is: “Was blind, but now I see”. You are playing enough measures so that everyone can follow along and know when to start playing. Whoever calls the song should also state the number of times that it will be played. Another way to play a lead-in is to play a series of chords from the key that the song is in. For example: Play D-G-A for songs in the key of D. Play G-C-D for songs in the key of G. Group play gives us great latitude for embellishments and creativity. For example: If a song has four quarter notes in a measure, you may want to play any combination of quarter and eighth notes. Try going up or down one note. Decades ago when I took a course from Stephen Seifert, he referred to these notes as Up-neighbors and Down-neighbors. They will add spice and color to your music. If your song has a series of tied measures, there will be a lot of “open space” in the music. Sometimes this sounds good and at other times, the silence can be improved. For example: Your song has two measures of a D-chord tied together. That is eight counts. You may want to arpeggiate the first D-chord (D-A-F#-A) and play the second D-chord once. Let us move onto group playing at a performance. Someone should be designated as the group leader. He or she will introduce the song and play the lead-in for each song being played. It is important here for consistency, that everyone use the same arrangement of the song. Recognizable phrases are important because it helps the audience recognize the song, sort of a teaser. Prior to playing the song, if there is some information about the song that you know, share it with the audience and that will help the them to better understand who wrote the song and why it was written. For example, the background of “Amazing Grace” is amazing. Share this type of information with your audience. If, during your group performance, you will be playing some songs that require the use of a Capo, save those songs for last. That way you will only have to retune one time. This brings us to the third approach of playing a song. Whether we are playing a solo at our respective clubs, in jam, or at a performance, we have the most latitude for playing a song and making it “our own”. Many of the techniques and suggestions of the first two approaches will be applicable to our solo play. One of the things that can be used effectively in solo play is dynamics. Here you can play a phrase softer or louder, increase or decrease your tempo, change the key of the song, etc. Chord-Melody strumming will give you the most volume. Flat picking a song will give you the most volume for solo play.. Finger picking adds a softness and fluidity to your song. Economy of motion is best achieved through finger picking. Hopefully these suggestions will help you to Become A Better Dulcimer Player.
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