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How To Become A Better Dulcimer Player - 10 Intros and Outros

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How To Become A Better Dulcimer Player - 10

Intros and Outros


There are many ways to start and to end a song. We will discuss a few of them in order for you to become a better dulcimer player. How many times have you been at a practice or jam and the person calling the songs says one of the following: “Go” - “And” - “1-2-3-4”. Is there anything wrong with this? Not really; however, there are better and more efficient ways to begin your play and to end it. With the above “Intros” each player will usually start and continue at a different place and tempo. Not good!


The purpose of an introduction is not only for your audience, but also for your fellow players to know when to start the song and what the tempo will be. It may also give your audience (if you have one) a teaser of what is to follow.

At our local club meetings and jams, each player on rotation, names the song title and he/she calls out the number of measures they will play to introduce the song and to set the tempo. All other players can visually/orally follow along and then begin playing at the proper place. How many measures are necessary to introduce the song? There are no set number of measures; however, a recognizable phrase from the song usually works well and gets everyone, players and audience ready for what follows. What is a recognizable phrase? If you have words to your song, the words should determine your recognizable phrase. i.e In the song “Amazing Grace” a good recognizable phrase would be: “Was blind, but now I see”.

Another method of introduction is to play the major chords of the song’s key before all others begin to play. If your song is in the Key of D, playing a D chord followed by an G chord followed by an A chord usually works well. If you song is in the Key of G, playing a G-C-D series of chords is a nice introduction. How many of each chord should you play? That depends upon the song itself. Is it a slow song? A fast song? Should a chord be held for an entire measure or played multiple times within a measure? Each song will require a different set of chords and note values. Your ear will be the best judge of that.


Is there any way to properly end a song? The short answer is “No”. The long answer is “It depends”. Most players/groups end a song by playing the last note or chord in the last measure. There is nothing wrong in that. If you would like to add a little bit of finesse and/or variety to a song, you may do as above in the Introduction section of this article with some modification. As in the example above, you can end as song by playing a series of chords from the song’s key. In this instance, I like to use a modified series of chords. Instead of playing (in the Key of D) a D-G-A, you can play a D-G-D. If in the Key of G, you can play a G-C-G. This works for all the keys by playing the I-IV-I chords. another way to end is a song is to repeat the recognizable phrase that you used as an introduction. As in the above example, for the song, "Amazing Grace", repeating the notes that comprise, "Was blind, but now I see", will end the song nicely.

My methods, in this article, and others are not the final word on “How To Do It”. They are only presented in the hope to help you to become a better dulcimer player.


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Thanks for all of your "How to ..." posts.  This one strikes a chord because when I've been in some jam sessions we don't always have intros for the next song.  The person who called the next tune often doesn't have an intro.  If it's a 4/4 song, often "4 potatoes" is the intro (strumming while saying 1, 2, 3, 4,).  Some songs we have played together enough to where we have intros and outros (and everyone is playing the same outro!).



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