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JohnR

How did you start paying the hammered dulcimer?

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Well I suppose someone ought to kick off a discussion here. Why not me?

So here's a question: How, why, when did you start playing the hammered dulcimer?

For me, it goes back to mother, who died a few years ago. In the 1990s, she went to Dollywood and bought a mountain dulcimer. Eventually, she bought a hammered dulcimer. Whenever I visited her house in Michigan, I would see it, though usually under a blanket. (I never understood why, it was just that way.)

I never got the chance to play it and I seldom saw her play. On one trip to visit her, however, I went with her to church and she played "Whiskey before breakfast" during the service. But it was a baptist church and the pastor asked her to change the name to "Morning coffee" or something. Obviously, she did not sing the words!

At some point, I noticed that she had a Strumstick. I goofed around with it, and she let me take it home. I also tried out her mountain dulcimer a bit, and for my birthday a year or two later, she sent me a mountain dulcimer via UPS.

Fast forward a couple years later and she suddenly dies. My sister-in-law and I divide up the musical collection: two mountain dulcimers, two hammered dulcimers. That was in late 2016.

Since then, I've done some learning in how to play both instruments. I prefer the hammered dulcimer, as it's easier on my hands to use hammers than to try to find frets on the small space of the fretboard on the mountain dulcimer.

I am in Minnesota now, where, unlike Michigan, dulcimer players are scarce. 

 

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That's a great story JohnR.  "Morning Coffee" is a great name and maybe the first lines to be sung might be

I poured my morning coffee and much to my surprise

We're out of cream I began to scream but whiskey would be nice

 

Just kidding, it'll never go anywhere. 

 

I hope you had a chance to play some music with your Mother.

Dave

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Just a few times. She had two mountain dulcimers and there was one time we played "Sweet Hour of Prayer" together. At least that's how I like to remember it.

She spent a week in the ICU before she died. Every day, I took an MD with me. For some reason, I was stupid and let my fear of being a newbie keep me from playing. Then one morning, I got up the courage to play some songs and then I went to lunch with my family, my brother and his family, and everyone else. She passed while we were at lunch.

* * *

I do like the way you redid the beginning of WBB!

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I'm not a skilled HD player. I mostly just hammer out a melody to demonstrate the instrument which was how I started playing. A friend and I would do school programs on the Appalachian or mountain dulcimer. In the talks I would mention the HD and show a picture. I decided it would be better to have one to show and play for the students, so I purchased plans and made a 16/15 HD.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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Making your own dulcimer (either kind) takes some dedication! Did you do some woodworking to that point?

I am learning to play both chords and melody in a variety of musical genres on the hammered dulcimer. I also have a mountain dulcimer and am working to bring up my skills on that, too.

 

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Yes, John, I had some experience before building the HDs.  It was helpful to have good plans and manual on how to do the construction. I think I purchased four or five books on building HDs before tackling the project.'

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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I built mine also. I was advised by a pro builder/player in Mt View, AR., to do some research before I did. Started building MD's as I learned about, and acquired material for, the HD. I haven't played it in years though.

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first off, thanks for starting a new ED.

how I started, is a looong story, that includes me seeing people play this odd, trapezoid.  the sound made me want to do it.

I built an instrument, then borrowed an instrument, and finally had Rick Thum build me one about 15 years ago.

My wife plays MD and she and I play at the senior assisted living centers in the area.  In addition to the dulcimers, we play guitar, banjo, ukekele, mandolin and we both sing

 

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After playing traditional instruments, such as Piano, Organ and Trumpet, for years I was gifted a Mountain Dulcimer by a friend at church. His only request was that someone in the family would earn to play it. That was around 25 years ago and 4 Mt Dulcimers later. (I still have the orgional hand made one). I got interested in the Hammered Dulcimer when I saw a You Tube Video of one being played. I started a search on the Internet and met a man named Dan. Dan gave me a lot of information about the instrument and answered questions like what size to start with, Different makers and price ranges. After a couple of corrispondences he said he had some information on his web page and I could (Should) check it out if I wanted to. That is when I found out I was talking with the only HD player I ever heard of, Dan Landrum who played background for Yanni. That sealed the deal for me and I bought my first one. Dan was correct in that I would eventually outgrow my 16/15 if I sayed with it long enough and I eventually bought a Song of the Wood Concert Grand Master which I now play. I still use the smaller one for playing out doors or for smaller venues where the larger one would not fit well. So, that is how I got started and I am still in the learning process and loving every minute of it.

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On 1/22/2020 at 7:13 AM, KWL said:

 

I was always attracted to the ethereal sounds of the instrument and was unable to stretch an octave on the piano although I still try to occasionally play. Guitar ended up causing my fingers to bleed. The HD I can do. And what I can play actually sounds like it should. It is possible to play chords for accompaniment, as well as play music designed for the treble staff. Depending on the range of the instrument, music may have to be converted. 

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