Jump to content

Converting music for a different instrument


Recommended Posts

I am not sure how to describe this...but anything you can offer will be used to find the answer.  I really am unsure of how to ask this...so here is an example:

Lets say I have a song in tab written for guitar....and I want to change it for use on the dulcimer.  End result is tab for dulcimer.  What is the best process for this?  Is there a software program for this?   Thanks


Link to comment
Share on other sites

There may be one of the music programs that will help; but I don't own any...   

I will say that Chords are Chords are Chords.  A G chord is a G chord whether it's on a guitar or dulcimer or mandolin.  Guitr and mondolin chords are "richer" because they have notes from additional strings compared to the 3 or 4 string of a dulcimer chord.  WHICH G Chord it is, relative to Middle C is more or less irrelevant -- you would choose a difference G on dulcimer than on either Guitar or Mandolin.    

Hopefully the Guitar tab will indicate the rhythm of the chord changes and the time signature, which will translate directly.  Often there are fewer guitar chords indicated for each measure of a long, because they only play "accompaniment" chords around which other instruments or voices weave the tune.  This gives you room to improvise on the dulcimer.


  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Are you looking to play the backing chords, the melody, or a chord melody arrangement?  If it's backing chords, you would just need to learn the chord shapes on the dulcimer to follow along.  It may require re-tuning depending on the key to have all the chords you need.

Fitting the melody on the dulcimer could require some work.  It may require re-tuning or transposing the song to the correct key.  TablEdit is the go-to tool for working with TAB.  It can do transposition, changing keys, changing instruments, alternate tuning, etc.  I believe there's a free trial for it, and you could try inputting a guitar tab and seeing what it does with it when you change instruments.  In my experience it usually requires some tinkering to get a melody to fit. 

Chord-melody is probably a manual process once you have the melody.  Making the chords fit with where the melody is moving up/down the fretboard and across the strings is a process.  I don't think there's any automated tool that will do that currently. 

Tull Glazener occasionally offers classes on TablEdit and arranging for the mountain dulcimer.  That might be worth looking into.  I haven't taken his TablEdit class (I learned from the online tutorials), but his arranging class was very helpful in understanding how fit tunes on the dulcimer and gives a couple approaches for how to start.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With tab for any instrument and wanting to covert it chord melody dulcimer tab, you will first need to determine the melody from the original tab. That melody line is easy to input into Tabledit for dulcimer (DAA or DAd). It is much easier to do this if you have standard musical notation and can input the notes.


"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...