October 21, 2014

The Right Hand Fingerstyle Technique of David Massengill

by Steve Eulberg

At the Gebhard Woods Festival I was given a tutorial by David Massengill about his right hand finger-style technique for playing mountain dulcimer.  Take a look!

There are many different styles of playing our beloved instruments and being able to witness the variety always inspires my creativity!

DavidMassengillRightHandTechnique from Linda Ratcliff on Vimeo.


David Massengill and Reverse Ionian Tuning

by Steve Eulberg

On the road as part of my country-crossing-summer-tour, I got to visit with David Massengill at the Gebhard Woods Festival in Morris, Illinois in June.

David has a long history with the mountain dulcimer and developed some playing styles that pre-date the 6-1/2 fret, DAd world that has been more common since the instrument was brought in from the “free-range.”   Here he demonstrates the beautiful of what he calls “Reverse Ionian Tuning“.   5 – 1 – 5 are the relationships between the strings, the tonic being in the middle string, rather than on either outside string.  Do starts at the 3rd fret of the melody string and the major (Ionian) scale continues to the 10th fret (omitting the 6-1/2 fret)

Playing this way is very reminiscent of the 1 – 5 – 5 or DAA tuning which is common today, but David is playing  F – C – F and creating some beautiful, fluid melodies and harmonies, while standing a playing with the dulcimer flat, or parallel to the ground.

David Massengill: Reverse Ionian Tuning from Linda Ratcliff on Vimeo.


Introducing our newest Guest Instructor: Butch Ross

DulcimerCrossing is excited to have Butch Ross teaching on our site.

He introduces himself and his lessons in this video:

Check out some of his lessons here:

Right Hand Technique

Internal Metronome


Fiddle Whamdiddle Summer 2014

Vi and I have had some great gigs playing together this summer so far!

We had a fun night at Avogadro's number at the end of May, and then a terrific time at the Avery House for July 4th Independence Day Celebration.

Some different friends captured these moments as images to evoke that fun:


The tent was provided by Streetmosphere, Beet Street's summer music program. [Photo by Franklin Taggart]


This looks way too cheerful to be Blacktail Weasel and the Ground Squirrel Clan!  [Jim Frye Photo] Listen to that tune here.



Here are some nice close-ups while we play (which is musician for "work"!) [Pics by Pabo]






Odd Meters

ClubFootedJibby Steve Eulberg

Playing traditional instruments in the western world, we get quite used to “square” or “even” rhythms and meters in the songs we play.

Marches and Reels are in (4/4) time; Polkas are in (2/2 or 4/4).  Even jigs (6/8) have 2 pulses in their measures.  Waltzes (3/4) have a strong beat on 1.  Slides (12/8 or 6/8) and Slip Jigs (9/8) have multiple pulses in their measures, but what all of these tunes tend to have in common is that they have a regular way to be counted based on the time signature.

There are other places in the world, however, where tunes with Odd Meters are considered normal or natural.  Key signatures of 5/4, 7/8, 11/8 feel odd to many of us, but odd can ALSO mean FUN!

Actually what happens in these tunes is the players or dancers sometimes sub-divide the counting into smaller bits to help keep the song together.

5/4 may be counted:  123 12

11/8 may be counted:  1234 123 1234.

7/8 may be counted several ways:  1234 123   or  123 1234   or 123 12 12.

Which choice is made is determined by the character of the tune itself.

The tune Club-Footed Jib is a tune that I wrote as an etude (a study) of the 7/8 time signature.  Each of the 3 sections of the tune has a different way of counting.  A new lesson teaching this tune and its exciting Odd Meter has now been posted.

Here is the hammered dulcimer demonstration of the tune.

Here is the mountain dulcimer demonstration of the tune.

Log in and learn to play this one as a tool for exploring an Odd Meter!


Traditional Noter and Drone Style Lessons

by Linda Ratcliff

Traditional Noter Style

NoterStyle

Many mountain dulcimer players play their instruments by pressing the fatty pads of their fingertips down on the strings to create the different notes. But there is another option.

The traditional, old-time way of playing a mountain dulcimer is to use a noter. Your noter can be anything from the broad side of a popsicle stick to a wooden dowel – or anything around the house that can be used to press down on the strings.

In this series of 14 videos, Steve introduces the traditional noter/drone style of playing, shows us some of the tools (noters) that he uses, and explains how to use the noter with different tunings. Listen to Steve play a spirited rendition of Golden Slippers with his noter and quill, and check out the titles of the videos right here.

Holy Manna, O Susannah, Joy to the World, Old Joe Clark and Shady Grove are used to demonstrate noter playing with different tunings.


DulcimerCrossing Festival Scholarships

by Steve Eulberg & Linda Ratcliff

At DulcimerCrossing.com we believe in supporting all the ways that students learn to play the music that is in their hearts.  Some people learn better in the privacy of their homes, some with an individual tutor, and some learn best when immersed in a setting that is chock-FULL of music, with people who are engaged in the same pursuit as they are.

For this reason, DulcimerCrossing has provided some full and partial scholarships to selected weekend and week-long dulcimer-learning events this year.

It has been our request that the scholarships be distributed and administered by each individual festival (and anonymously to us) but we requested that, if possible, they provide support for: a YOUTH participant, and a TEACHER to come and further develop their skills.

Please contact each individual festival or weekend to inquire about their application process for these scholarships.

Colodulcfestlogo-web

The Colorado Dulcimer Festival (both mountain and hammered)

BerkeleyDulcimerGathering2014

The Berkeley Dulcimer Gathering (mountain only)

KMWlogophot

Kentucky Music Week (both mountain and hammered)

DulcimerULogo

Western Carolina University Dulcimer Week (mountain only)


New Lesson: So You Want to be Heard?

by Steve Eulberg

Amplifying the Mountain Dulcimer.

Steve adds a sample from a new lesson series about Amplifying the Mountain Dulcimer in the Mountain Dulcimer Skills section of the DulcimerCrossing website.

This sample lesson from that series that describes and demonstrates the use of a contact pickup and the combination of that pickup with a microphone.

A similar lesson series for amplifying the hammered dulcimer is in development.


Orphan Girl: New Chromatic Dulcimer Lesson!

Orphan Girl
by Linda Ratcliff

For Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer Players
“Orphan Girl” was written by Gillian Welch, whose musical style combines elements of bluegrass, neotraditional country, Americana, old time string band music and folk into a rustic style that she dubs “American Primitive.” Gillian and David Rawlings included “Orphan Girl” in their debut album, “Revival,” in 1996. This song is somewhat autobiographical, as Gillian was adopted on the day she was born, and spiritual as none of us will be orphans when we finally sit at the Father’s table in heaven.

This lesson is taught by Erin Rogers on the chromatic mountain dulcimer. You can see the lesson descriptions here with a video of Orphan Girl performed by Scenic Roots (our own Erinwith her sister Amber).

ErinAmberOrphanGirlPhoto

Any New Year’s Resolutions?
Every year, my New Year’s Resolution is to practice my hammered dulcimer more often. How about you?

As always, if you have any questions, you can always ask Steve or myself.

Happy dulcimering,
Linda


What to Do….when you’re snowed in.

by Linda Ratcliff

snowedinMost of you know I live full time in an RV. At the campground where we stay, they don’t believe in plowing. And we live at the low end of the park. Early January, there was ice – on top of snow – on top of ice, with NO hope it would be cleared and we didn’t even try to get out. Now most of you would have used that gift of time to practice your dulcimers. But I began going through our lessons one by one, and found some ways to make improvements.

•Right now, videos are loaded in a jukebox style – such as you see in this screen shot of Orphan Girl.  In addition, I will be linking each video to its own webpage, to facilitate access for mobile device users.

orphangirl_jukebox

•I found a better system for converting flash animations to videos for our mobile device users. One by one, I’m reformatting those animations.

•We have been building the Dulcimer Crossing website for 5 years now and, through trial and error, continue to learn better ways of presenting the lessons. We will be re-taping some of the early videos so all the lessons will have the same look and feel. This is a long-term project that may take a year. If there is a particular lesson you would like to see us revise sooner than later – give us a shout. If you want to see which lessons have already been revised, click here.

Angeline the Baker

•This week we added the tablature and animations for our D-A-A lesson on Angeline the Baker, taught by Steve Eulberg for mountain dulcimer players.

As always, if you have any questions, you can always ask Steve or myself.

Happy dulcimering, Linda