Posts posted by Byll
What a delightful way to begin the day. Thank you, Dave. I am curious to know the make and model of the HD used in the recording. The angle of the camera to the HD, makes it difficult for me to tell. The player's use of the dampers also hampers my identification. It could be some model of Dusty Strings Rizzetta design... or something else entirely. Any help will be appreciated.
Thank you, Carolina.
Hi, Ken. I personally know of no hammer dulcimer forums that are not connected to social media, such as Facebook. I do not intend to go down that slippery slope. I did note that on this forum, there seem to be more individuals interested in the mountain dulcimer, than in the hammer dulcimer.
I have heard of a HD with no back, and may have seen one at a festival or two, back in storied times, but I have never looked one over carefully, and have never heard one played. As the resonant box is a very definite part of an HD's sound signature, I find it hard to imagine an HD that has no back. I also wonder about the volume of the instrument. A 14/13 is a relatively small hammer dulcimer, which makes me wonder even more about the no back issue.
How did you fix the tuning pin issue, so that the note in questions would hold pitch? Drill...insert glued dowel...Drill again? I envy you your woodworking abilities, Ken. My interests and capabilities never went in that direction.
I retired from Middle School, High School, and University teaching, before FaceBook and its cohorts invaded the on-line universe. I am thankful for that timing... I think your analysis of the situation is cogent, and I also think that other issues are probably involved. I know nothing concerning the politics of 'some anonymous someone' purchasing, and then recycling the original EverythingDulcimer ideas/material. I am simply interested in being able to communicate with like-minded and interested individuals, concerning these marvelous folk instruments.
Something is wrong or missing, here, and I cannot figure what it is. I have seen too many instances of an interested person asking an intelligent question, having someone continue the conversation by answering, and never again hearing from the original questioner. They simply exit the scene.
I do not find this forum particularly easy to use. And the lack of interested individuals providing new subjects and discussion points has not made me feel interested enough to attempt to learn the ins and outs of the software. Mea Culpa.
Anyway, NoterMan, you and I perform on related, but very different instruments. I wish subjects would show up, that brought the two together, rather than having them exist in their own world. I wish the forum success. If you, or others figure out a plan to help move this endeavor forward, please count me interested.
Hi, Ken. Yep. I remember now, that is was a Presbyterian church in which we were performing. That was a whole lot of years ago. I do not remember, that we had an autoharp in the group at that time, so the remuneration probably either came from the church itself, or one of its parishioners.
Different subject, Ken: What can be done to get more interest shown in this web site? I check it every day, but honestly, I have not personally seen any change for weeks and weeks. I note that often there are posts answered, but then the original poster kind of disappears.
Be well, Ken.
Take Two: Hello, LimeyDog: What is left of my mind still wonders if you ever purchased a hammer dulcimer. If so, what brand and model did you choose? There are a lot of fine instruments out there...
Welcome Hydergal: From your post, I must assume you are being sent a mountain dulcimer, and not a hammer dulcimer. The Mojave desert is rather dry, and SE Alaska is the opposite. This change can be tough on wooden instruments...
I suggest that when it arrives, you allow it to acclimate to its new environment for a few days, before you do any drastic tuning work. Moving slowly, if there is a need for serious changes, is better than changing the pitches relatively quickly.
A relative humidity of 45 - 50% is very friendly for our wooden instruments, and you may find that your SE Alaska rainforest humidity is much greater that that range, already. instruments can survive quite nicely with greater or less humidity, but being stored in a relatively comfortable environment, means long-run safety for most wooden instruments,, and less time spent tuning.
You might consider Investing in a small humidifier or dehumidifier as needed, as it will help with the instrument's health over time. DeVoit makes excellent devices, at a fair price. In-case humidifiers can be used, but one must be careful, as they have been known to damage the finish of some instruments.
My best to you in your endeavor.
Ken: A lifetime, and 3 double-hammer dulcimer bands ago - maybe in the 1990s, my band at that time, performed a concert at a church, pretty far away from our Lancaster County, PA. I remember it was a relatively long trip to get there...
I also remember that the concert coordinator mentioned that Dr. George Orthey, of mountain dulcimer, auto-harp, etc. fame, lived in the house we could see from the front of the church. I seem to remember much land surrounding the home, but I could be wrong.
It was hoped that George would possibly attend our concert, as he was known to do, but part of me remembers meeting him, and another part says it was an unfulfilled 'wish.'
We create a new set list for every concert. In pre-pandemic days of yore, we were constantly creating songs, tunes, sets of tunes, etc. Not being able to actually be together often in our 'rehearsal emporium,' has thrown a rather large monkey-wrench into our creative flow. Heh. We do have 3 rehearsals scheduled for this month - again trying to return to some semblance of normalcy - and much time will be spent on our upcoming concert, plus attempting to recover some of our larger repertoire, and put it in the 'ready for concert' file, again.
Yes, I suspect that your comments concerning social media are spot on. I have never taken the Facebook plunge. I am blessed with wonderful friends and family. Never saw the need for... uh... volume of contacts.
Our band performs a recent novelty song by John McCutcheon, called CONTROL. Our arrangement uses back-ground vocals, and adds instruments, but the basic message remains John's. He speaks truth concerning his take on Facebook, in his last verse... Check it out, on YouTube.
In the band, I also play Irish whistle in multiple keys, both bass and alto melodion, and sing... We all sing lead and backup... There is an international Whistle Board out there, called Chiff and Fipple. It has existed for quite some time. It somehow has survived the Facebook onslaught. I wish I knew their secret.
It amuses me, NoterMan... looking at your post of a few weeks ago (sorry for the hiatus). I realize that all of the spaces that you suggest, in which my band might practice, we have actually either rehearsed in (very large meeting room in a commercial builder's office suite), or performed in, over the years. Folk music concerts often have some odd venues... We are not strangers to performing in a variety of venues, as I shared above.
I think what I am after are ideas and suggestions, concerning how to keep our existing music fresh, keep the band's energy up to arrange new music, how to rehearse safely, etc., in times when concerts and performing in general, are again being crushed.
I suppose it is possible that what I am looking for, may not be able to be found, at the moment. Wow. Talk about a 'first world' problem... Again, our hopes rise a bit, as - in our area - the surge is slowing down. I fear that I am not as trusting and optimistic as I once was...
An issue that may somehow be related to our band's challenges: I would love to see the new Everything Dulcimer be a success. Those that post from time to time have interest, knowledge, and enthusiasm - 3 characteristics needed for this site to succeed. However, I have noted what seems to be a dearth of interest in hammer dulcimer issues specifically, of late. I wish I had a modus operandi that could assist, to help rectify that situation.
Thanks, NoterMan. Your ideas concerning rehearsing outdoors are not something we have tried. That methodology cannot be done now, in Pennsylvania, because of frigid temps and snow. I would complain about how hot our summer sun is, but that would be laughable to you, living in Florida. But your idea is definitely something to think about.
We perform in lots of Celtic and other festivals, schools, retirement communities, church secular concert series, libraries, park concert series, arts' centers, historical societies, City First Nights, etc. It is not surprising that so many of those venues shut down because of C19.
A sound system is a necessity for us. We would love to perform acoustically, but it is not really possible. With the many instruments we have onstage, our footprint is quite large, for the four of us. We do a lot of close vocal harmonies, and we absolutely need to be able to hear each other. No way can that happen, acoustically. We are attempting to work toward in-ear monitoring (IEM), but stage monitors are still the name of the game.
My biggest concern, is that venues may shut down again, for any number of reasons, including of course, for safety reasons. it took so much hard work for us to come back to a musical unity, which allowed us to return to the stage. Thinking of repeating that exercise, is not pleasant...
Like you, except for me, we are not full time musicians. One of us is a stay-at-home mom, one is the office manager for a large home and commercial building company, and one is a more than full time medical doctor. All of us are products of previous bands, including those of us who have worked with each other before. I am blessed to be on stage with 2 of my previous Junior and Senior High School students, from a whole lot of years ago. We range in age from early 30s, through 60s, to mid 70s, with me filling that last age slot.
The beat goes on, Sir. Thank you for a good idea. I hope I hear a few more...
The site has been rather slow of late. So, I figure I will attempt to get some input on a dulcimer-related subject. Our band contains 4 on-stage performers, a sound engineer, accountant, webmaster, and den mother. We normally have around 15 instruments on stage, during concerts. We all play multiple instruments and sing lead and backing vocals. Right in the middle of the stage area, are our two hammer dulcimers. The band is not a hammer dulcimer band, but the hammer dulcimers certainly are a very large part of our persona.
In 2019/2020, medical issues and then the rise of C19 played havoc with our band and its venues. As the medical issues began to straighten out, C19 accelerated... We lost quite a large number of concerts, and also could not get together safely to rehearse our songs, tunes, sets, new material, etc. During this time period, we lost our sound engineer - quite a loss, both personally and professionally, for the band.
We began lot of rehearsing again, in early 2021, as venues again opened up, and we signed concerts. We worked so hard, to attempt to get back to a respectable enough musical posture, to go on stage, again. August, 2021, we performed at a large outdoor natural bowl, with a new sound engineer and a large crowd. All was well. A number of successful concerts later, and we are again pushing up against venues closing down, family illness in band members' lives, etc. We have many concerts scheduled during 2022, and it is rather disconcerting to see where this all may be heading... again.
Our band is beginning its 9th year together, and we want to continue. Do any of you out there have established performing groups that have been affected by the state of the pandemic, and the effects it has caused to occur, in the live music performance world ? I am interested to learn how you are faring, and to learn any hints and suggestions you may have for us - and for other performing groups.
I arranged Silent Night for solo hammer dulcimer, for Dulcimer Players News, so many years ago. My first band, Gladly Play Wyth Stryngs, used the simple single-HD arrangement as the last selection on our 2001 Christmas CD, Glad Tydings.
Attached below are a PDF of the arrangement, and a sound file of it, from the CD. My best to you all.
'The HD will play chords, for accompaniment and in some cases you can play your own harmony and melody. I am still trying to find out how the chords are played with a melody, since a three beat chord and a 1/4 note for the melody would have to be reduced to 1/16 for the 4 notes, and I don't think this is correct.'
Nathina: Since standard major and minor chords have a root, 3rd and fifth, harmonizing while playing a melody boils down to understanding which notes in that chord are necessary to identify the chord musically, and then knowing, rhythmically, where to place those notes, while possibly accenting the melody a bit. I did a simple arrangement of Silent Night a lot of years ago, for a Christmas edition of Dulcimer Players News. My band wanted to end our Christmas album with it in 2001, and we recorded it. It is an example of my explanation, above.
There are more tricks to harmonizing - valley rolls, pre and post harmonies for notes to be played, and already played, etc. A teacher who does solo and performance work, could help you with your gaining the proper knowledge.
I wish I had a way of sending to you that Silent Night, or the whole disc. We used two hammer dulcimers, bass, and violin. Easiest way, would be an email attachment. I do not think I can attach such things within this board. I cannot find how to PM on this board. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.
LimeyDog: Did you ever purchase a hammer dulcimer from a competent maker? If so, what brand did you choose?
Yep. You are correct, Sir. I too, added to that thread. I suppose it is just one of the the things that the owner/moderator will attend to, as time goes oh. Hopefully...
Of course, I had Nick's permission to share... I was interested that Nick wrote a bit about the band itself, beyond the bass dulcimers.
I get curious about members of the new EverythingDulcimer. I would like to read their bios, but I am not able to discover how to do it. Any help will be appreciated.
KWL: I talked with friend Nick Blanton concerning the bass dulcimers of Trapezoid. Over the years, a lot of Rizzetta hammer dulcimers were licensed for build to Dusty Strings, of course, and to Sam's friend Nick, in Shepherdstown, WV. Nick made many, including an ER that I owned for a lot of years. Here is Nick's email take on the bass dulcimers of Trapezoid:
'There were at least three bass HD's in Trapezoid. The first big one, played by Paul Reisler on the first recording, got replaced by something smaller and better and I'm not sure where it went ( like a lot of new designs in the early 70's, it may have simply become unplayable) . The second was smaller, had lots of wound strings, and that's the one the band used when Ralph Gordon joined- and he got to play it. Sam Rizzetta had made it, and sold it, and so Ralph made himself another one like it, in Paul's shop. But not too long after that, Sam left, and the band stopped being a HD band and Ralph stopped playing it. He kept the instrument , though, until years after he left the Zoids someone bought it from him, I forget who...I think Ralph brought it over to my shop and I checked it out got it working again.
With two widely-spaced bridges a fifth apart, the bracing and structure of those bass HD's could be pretty simple. But they did require a lot of wound strings, most of which had to have the windings trimmed back to fit, and so stringing was expensive and something of a pain. I've sometimes wondered why they didn't get more popular. There's a Swiss band that uses a bass dulcimer made by Marc Ramser, and it really rocks- you can really use one to take the place of an electric bass to drive the music.'
Sam never stopped experimenting. He was fascinated with the results of combined mathematics, science, and creativity. I am humbled to perform on one of his last successful experiments. I found his shop and home fascinating. I would ask questions, and he would take the time to explain - in language I could understand - what he was attempting to accomplish. I would often think of questions when I was in my home, and I would send an email. As I think back over the so many years, I know that he never failed to answer. Sometimes, I had to wait awhile, but he always came through.
Somewhere along the road, I began taking his 'essays,' and moving them out of the context of his emails, and I saved them all in kind of a 'knowledge' file. Sometime, I will read back through them. I remember that his explanation of the thought that went into his experiments into ultra-light compact hammer dulcimers - and the physics behind the arch- back, was particularly cogent. I know he offered the design to a well known builder, and also to a well known company, but they were not interested, because the design necessitated so much 'hand' work, that the sale of said instruments would not be economically feasible.
I have one source who might know where the bass dulcimer of Trapezoid resides, if it is still extant. If I find anything, I will post the information, if it is OK with the owner.
I enjoyed Trapezoid - especially Sam's creation of the bass hammer dulcimers. I would like to hear one in real life. I never saw any of them at Sam's home or work shop. I wonder where they reside, now.
Back in the late 1980s, my wife and I were at a Pennsylvania arts and craft show, in a local auction ground. There was a fellow from out West, who had this trapezoidal shaped instrument hanging vertically from a frame. I had never seen a hammer dulcimer before, and was fascinated. My wife tells me that as we kept walking around the grounds, I would always kind of gravitate to the hammer dulcimer area. For Christmas that year, she purchased for me a 21/11 instrument built by Dennis Dorogi. I still own it.
'Tis funny. I am a pro musician on piano. I made my living with teaching at various levels, and with performing on the piano. With all of my 'training,' I had never seen a hammer dulcimer. With my introduction to the HD, my wife kind of created a monster.
Over the years, moving from 2.5 octaves to 3, and then to 4, I learned to love the hammer dulcimer. I went through every book I could find, but the really cool stuff from the best players was lost to me. I could not figure out how they got those sounds... So I asked a local folk group if anyone around here played HD. They gave me the name of a doctor in the area. The name was familiar, and I realized he had been a Jr. High student of mine, long in the past. The rest is history. We remain on stage together, today, playing fraternal twin hammer dulcimers, and many other instruments in our 4 piece band.
Yea I love piano. It brought music to me... I love Irish whistle and melodion, also. However, the hammer dulcimer was the first instrument that actually became part of me. Like John Denver said, so many years ago: 'coming home to a place I'd never been before.' Yes, quite.
Please go to samrizzetta.com to learn more about Sam and his endeavors. I own the spruce and walnut arch back ultra-light extended range compact pictured on the site. The picture was taken before he extended it to a more unclusive 4 octaves, for me.
Sam loved to experiment. He had not made dulcimers for sale, for years. His designs were built by Dusty Stings, the superb builder Nick Blanton, and others. But he would sell his experimental instruments to friends, when he was finished with them. The latest real project for him, was to build ultra-light dulcimers, using carbon fiber facings, bracing, and using other tricks from the world of math and physics - especially arch-back technology. He suggested I call my dulcimer, 'Archie.'
When he offered to sell me his instrument, I asked if he could add bridges and turn it into a true 4-octave instrument. It took Sam while, but he did it. My 4 octave instrument weighs 11 pounds. I had been performing on a very large and heavy instrument. This ultra-light compact instrument simply does so many things right.
The beautiful inlaid mountain dulcimer above, was on the hearth, in his little living room, in West Virginia.
Having now just discovered the resurrected ED, I signed up, read a number of posts, and realized that my first post was to be one tinged with loss.
Hammer dulcimer players all owe our trapezoidal musical realities to Sam Rizzetta, who in the 1960s, discovered the extinct instrument, fell in love with it, and began the process of building it, improving it, performing on it, etc. Many of the innovations we take for granted on modern hammer dulcimers are the result of Sam. He was an engineer, scientist, pilot, dulcimer builder and player, innovator, composer, teacher, and a dear, dear friend.
I was honored to spend a whole lot of hours over a whole lot of years, with Sam and Carrie, on their mountain top in West Virginia. I played and performed on instruments he designed, modified, and my current one, which he built as an experiment. 10 years ago, he gave my band permission to use his name as part of our band name: Rizzetta's Tones.
Sam passed a few days ago, on Tuesday, October 26, 2021. He was a living legend, that was always ready and willing to share his vast knowledge and good humor. He is so missed.
Simon Chrisman on Hammered Dulcimer
in Jam Session - General Discussion
Thanks for the information, Dave. I have been around hammer dulcimers for a whole lot of years, and have never seen, nor heard, a 5 octave instrument. I perform on an experimental arch-back ultra-light compact instrument, built by Sam Rizzetta for his own use, and modified by him for me, to stretch the range to 4+ octaves. If you ever find a good picture of Simon's 5 octave instrument, I would be interested to see it. I do remember the Whamdiddle and Rick Fogel being mentioned in Dulcimer Players News, of old...