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Carolina Rockman

How To Become A Better Dulcimer Player - 6

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How To Become A Better Dulcimer Player - 6


For whatever reason, jigs are not played that often in dulcimer groups. Yes, there are exceptions; however, in my experience, they are not played that much. We are comfortable playing in 4/4 or ¾ timing.  Jigs introduce us into playing in 6/8 timing; that is, in each measure of our tab, there will be a maximum of 6, 1/8th notes. In 6/8 timing we are playing a combination of 1/8th notes, ¼ notes, dotted ¼ notes. or a combination of all of them. Unlike 4/4 timing where emphasis is usually on the first and third note, 6/8 timing places the emphasis on the first and fourth note.

Other than being fun to play, jigs are a good teaching tool to help you to become a better dulcimer player. Playing jigs will:

1. Teach you proper timing.

An 1/8th note gets one count.

A ¼ note gets two counts.

A dotted ¼ note gets three counts.

You should not see rests in 6/8 timing. The rests are built into the notes, i.e. a ¼ note is played for two counts, the first is played and the second count is your “rest”. A dotted ¼ note has three counts, the first is played and the second and third counts are your “rests”. As long as you end up with a total of six counts, you are playing properly.

2. Help you with your finger positioning (both for the melody line/and or chords.

As with most songs, try to anchor one or two fingers on a fretted note/s for sustain while you are going to the next note or chord.

I have attached two PDF’s to this article. I composed this song as a teaching aid to learn how to play jigs. They are two versions of the same song with and without chords. Learn to play the one without chords, first. When you are comfortable with that version, move on to the one with chords. There are also MIDI files for each version to enable you to listen to the correct timing. I wrote some silly lyrics to help you keep time.

On the various Celtic music sites, you will find hundreds, if not thousands of jigs that you can play on your dulcimer. If you like to collect dulcimer tab, those are the websites to go to.

Have fun!

One-Two-Three-Four-Five-Six.pdf One-Two-Three-Four-Five-Six - Chord Melody.pdf One-Two-Three-Four-Five-Six.mid One-Two-Three-Four-Five-Six - Chord Melody.mid

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