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How To Become A Better Dulcimer Player - 15 Adding Variety To Your Playing

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How to Become A Better Dulcimer Player 15

Adding Variety To Your Playing

 

There are a number of ways to add variety to your solo and/or group dulcimer playing. i.e. playing a harmony; playing backup chords; playing a counter melody; playing a bass part. For this article we will concentrate on playing our melody on a combination of the melody and bass strings. As you know, the notes are the same on both your melody and bass strings when you are tuned to DAD, CGC, GDG, etc. They are one octave apart.

When playing songs that you already know, trying mixing up the song by playing part of the melody on the melody string and part of the melody on the bass string. This works best on those songs where you can use drone notes. One method that I like to use is playing the song, as written, all the way through. The second time you play it, try playing one or more measures within the song by flipping the melody notes to the bass string. I have posted one of my arrangements of “Shortnin’ Bread” on this Everything Dulcimer as an example of how you can mix up your melody.

Another way of adding variety to your playing is not to play the song the same way each time you play it through. Twenty years ago, Steve Seifert introduced me to “up neighbors” and “down neighbors”. These are notes that are usually one note higher or lower than your melody note. Within a song if you have a quarter note, you can play it twice as an eighth note or play the first eighth note as written and play the next note, one note higher or lower. ie. In your song with quarter notes you have these notes: 1-2-3-4. Try mixing it up by playing 1-1, 2-3, 3-2, 4-5, etc. There are no correct combinations. Same thing with eighth notes. i.e. 4-4, 5-5, 3-3. Try changing to 4-3, 5-4, 3-4, etc. What you are achieving is a variety in your playing by not playing the song the same way each time that you play it. Additionally, if you have a single note within your tab, try adding some drone notes to it.

This article is but the “tip of the iceberg” when adding variety to your playing. Perhaps my thoughts will help you to become a better dulcimer player. The bottom line is: If it sounds good, play it!

Shortnin' Bread2.pdf

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