THANK-YOU!!! You did it! You helped to keep live, found art visible and find-able on the streets of Fort Collins this summer with BeetStreet’s Streetmosphere Kickstarter Campaign. I’ve donated a CD and FiddleWhamdiddle has, too! (and check out the crazy angles of my flexible hammered dulcimer hammers in this slide show-at about 0:20!)
Scenic Roots with Steve Eulberg in Concert~
Watch the archive of the Concert below
Elena (Skys) Whitney hosted Steve for a Play It Forward Show on Indie Showcase Radio in March. Following a show which features the music of the guest artist, this show features the music of OTHER artists that each artist wants to share with the audience. The hard thing was narrowing down my choices!
Download and Listen to Steve’s
of the Play-it-forward Show on IndieShowcase.net
Ken Bloom and his new friend, Charlie Patton of Mississippi, were playing a duet of bowed dulcimers on Klezmer Tunes and everything went suddenly....acoustic.
These were acoustic instruments, however, so the music didn't stop.
My set was the final one of the night and because it was clear that they high school gymnasium was going to be an unplugged venue, I launched into my set, reminding people that this is how Old Time Music was always played.
Sharrie George's Taylor guitar did just fine with my fingerpicked version of Didn't Know I Was Lost (Until You Found Me), and Ken Bloom joined me for a Galax Dulcimer / Bowed Dulcimer duet on Miss McLeod's Reel, (thanks for the instrument loan, Bob Magowan!) and I ended the set with our planned trio: me: hammered dulcimer (thanks Peggy Carter!), Ken and Charlie Patton on bowed dulcimers dancing up the fine Ragtime Annie tune. (See photo on right.)
Reviews from those in attendance were that the sound was fine and well-balanced.
It is a little bit anachronistic that we players of old-time musical instruments have come to depend upon modern electronic sound systems, and we listeners of live music have come to expect that that amplified sounds are "better" for listening...when in this instance, those leaning in to listen had a fine experience without the electronic support!
by Linda Ratcliff
I’m spending the winter in sunny California, but I know many of you have been getting hit with some pretty cold weather. Brrrr.
That reminds me of the way I used to practice piano.
I usually arrived at school, during both my high school and college years, at about 6:30 in the morning, and I always went straight to the practice rooms. Now the school didn’t turn on the heaters full blast until about 7:30 a.m., so to challenge myself (and because no one was looking), I would start with my finger exercises – in the dark and wearing gloves.
That style of practice actually greatly increased my accuracy. After all, by the time you can play arpeggios correctly with gloves on – you’ve pretty well mastered that skill.
I applied the same system to my hammered dulcimer practicing – by working in the dark in the evenings. When I do this, I am working on muscle memory. I want my hands and arms to know the distance from one string to the next, one bridge to another, without looking. I don’t know if Steve has this problem, but when I set up in a new location to perform – the lighting always bothers me. I simply can’t see my strings the way I do at home. So learning to play in the dark has enabled me to not be so dependent on visual clues. And it has increased my confidence in playing for others.
What do you think? Could mountain dulcimer players also benefit from muscle memory practice in the dark? Have you ever tried it?
(This post was originally an article in the DulcimerCrossing Subscriber Newsletter)
by Steve Eulberg
Once we have learned the melody of a tune we can begin adding notes in order “fill out” the sound of the tune. The easiest way to do this is to play “drone style“. This is actually the traditional way to play the old mountain dulcimers which did not have frets that extended all the way across the fretboard, but only were present under the melody strings.
On the mountain dulcimer, the player plays the melody on the string(s) which are required for the melody and simply strums all the way across the strings to hear the drone of the unstopped strings, which often are reminiscent of bagpipes. It doesn’t matter which D tuning is being used, either DAA or DAd, the drones will sound the same, because while the melody is being played on the melody strings, while the middle and bass strings are ringing on the same pitches.
Drone-style is possible on Hammered Dulcimer, too!
On the hammered dulcimer, after each melody note that the player plays a drone note can be added as an answering tone. This is a perfectly legitimate way to play this instrument, too and it is what can make the hammered dulcimer sound so exciting and full.
“Which note should I choose?” is the question most commonly asked by my students.
The first note to try adding is the tonic or the root of the chord which is being played at the moment, or which is the home chord for the whole song.
The next note with which to experiment is the fifth (5th) step of the chord or the dominant. If the chord that accompanies that part of the melody is a D chord, the root or tonic will be: D and the fifth or dominant will be: A. Another interesting variation is to play the drone note above the melody, in the next octave.
This is certainly not the only way to play music on either instrument, but too often (in my opinion) we forget about this option when we are arranging and performing our favorite tunes.
As one of my mountain dulcimer students used to say: ”Play drone-style looks too easy, but it sounds SO nice!”
To which I replied, “so go forth and drone!”
by Steve Eulberg
I thought I had caught a glimpse of this long, distinctive instrument while passing by one of the Private (Guerilla) Showcases on the music floor of the Delta Chelsea Hotel in Toronto, but it wasn’t until I was rewarded by meeting its owner in the hall in the early evening (before all the craziness of the late-night schedule of “concertettes” begins) that I was certain.
It WAS a Japanese Koto, in the hands of (and nearly as tall as) a Londoner who, after exploring his music degree with saxophone, turned toward ethnomusicology and studied Balinese Gamelan for a year before settling on Koto as his primary performance instrument.
Jonah Brody (from the East end of London, England) was with Sam Lee and Friends at the North American Folk Alliance for Music and Dance Annual Conference in Toronto, Ontario (Canada) Feb 19-24th.
Jonah had never seen a mountain dulcimer before so I gave him a short demo and had him hold the cousins beside each other for this photo!
Later that evening I scouted around until I found where he was performing with the band and I was able to capture a bit of an amazing amalgam of world sounds (Indian Tabla–<drums>, Cello, Fiddle, Japanese Koto and Scottish Folk song) that I’m sharing with you here.
Our imaginations CAN run wild!
Concerts In Your Home for the artist's directory of this network which gets performing musicians connected with people who like to host concerts in their living rooms!(which, incidentally, is one of my favorite places to play.)
by Steve Eulberg
When we are playing the melody of a tune, without adding any chords, bass notes, harmony notes or drones, this is playing our dulcimers like they are melody-only instruments like flutes, trumpets, clarinets or trombones. This way of playing focuses on the melody and doesn’t have the distraction of other notes.
On the hammered dulcimer, the player is playing only the melody of the tune.
On the mountain dulcimer, the player is playing on the string(s) which are required for the melody in single-string style, whether playing linearly all on the melody string(s) or playing in flatpicking style across the strings.
For many instruments this is also known as playing the “elemental” version of the tune which is clear and uncluttered by harmonies, ornaments, or any embellishments.
I like to call this the “Tree”, reminding people that generally, whenever we put up our Christmas Tree we don’t decorate it before we get it set up sturdily. Only AFTER it is set up do we add the ornaments.
I encourage all of my students to learn songs in this way BEFORE adding anything else. This keeps us all from being stuck or beholden to a particular arrangement of the tune before we are truly accustomed to the tune itself.
This is a perfectly legitimate way of playing, AND serves as a solid foundation for everything we learn after it.
NEW–BASS LESSONS on JamPlay.com
After many requests, JamPlay.com is now offering Bass Lessons and my buddy Freebo (from the Bonnie Raitt Band) is one of the teachers! If you love the 4-strings and the low tones, these lessons are for YOU!