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2021 NGFDA Virtual Dulcimer Fest Registration!

Registration for this wonderful online dulcimer festival is coming up today, Friday September 3rd, 2021. This event is put on by the hard-working and dedicated folks at The North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association. The festival itself will be held November 18, 19, and 20 of this year. So there’s plenty of lead time to make your plans, but classes tend to fill up FAST in the early hours of registration.

I will be teaching some of my favorite topics this time: Working with the Modes and Modal Harmony, Ideas and Tips You can Use Right Now, Chord Progressions and 4-Chord Loops, and Improvising and Composing With Pentatonic Scales. Here are some free handouts from the last few times I taught some of these workshops:

I will include a link to the festival web site below for complete info and details, but first I wanted to offer a chronological flow of my workshops day by day, complete with workshop descriptions:

Thursday, November 18th

Session 2 (10:15 – 11:15 ET) Dorian, Aeolian, and Mixolydian Modes

These are the three modes used most often for Celtic music. Here you will have a deep dive into the character and feeling of each of these. You’ll learn some traditional tunes in each mode, as well as some originals in the spirit of the folk melodies. This is not a theory workshop, but there will be some online resources for you to explore for more understanding. Tuning DAD.

Session 4 (12:45 – 1:45) Freeing Up Your Playing With Pentatonics

We’ll show you how to flatpick your way through some easy pentatonic scales, using alternating pick strokes, and then we’ll apply these to the main chords you use every day. You’ll see that there aren’t any “wrong notes” when you play the pentatonics over some simple chord progressions. Finally – using the examples of some recent original pentatonic tunes of mine, we will give you some insights into how to build your own pentatonic tunes. Tuning DAD

Session 6 (3:15 – 4:15) Simple Chord Progressions and 4-Chord Loops

In this workshop, you’ll learn some new and magical chord progressions that are easy to play and fun. You already know most of these chords, so the challenge lies in learning the sequence of changes. You’ll also learn a few of my original melodies that go with each of these unique progressions. Tuning DAD.

Friday, November 19th

Session 3 (11:30 – 12:30) Ideas, Tips, and Devices You Can Use Right Away

In this session, you’ll make some interesting and unique music using only 5 tones. You’ll try some easy chord substitutions, and learn some of my favorite 4-chord loops to jam around. You’ll discover the power in changing up the time signature, tempo, and groove of a familiar folk tune. And you’ll try some “riffs” that you can move around to any chord you want. Tuning DAD.

Session 5 (2 – 3PM) Freeing Up Your Playing With Pentatonics

We’ll show you how to flatpick your way through some easy pentatonic scales, using alternating pick strokes, and then we’ll apply these to the main chords you use every day. You’ll see that there aren’t any “wrong notes” when you play the pentatonics over some simple chord progressions. Finally – using the examples of some recent original pentatonic tunes of mine, we will give you some insights into how to build your own pentatonic tunes. Tuning DAD

Saturday, November 20th

Session 3 (11:30 – 12:30) Longer Chord Progressions and Harmonized Scales and Modes

In this workshop, you’ll learn some longer chord progressions that can be the basis for jams and your own compositions and improvisations. You already know many of these chords, so we’ll dive right in to some creative music!. Harmonizing descending scales and modes will offer some new vistas. Tuning DAD.

Session 6 (3:15 – 4:15) Dorian, Aeolian, and Mixolydian Modes

These are the three modes used most often for Celtic music. Here you will have a deep dive into the character and feeling of each of these. You’ll learn some traditional tunes in each mode, as well as some originals in the spirit of the folk melodies. This is not a theory workshop, but there will be some online resources for you to explore for more understanding. Tuning DAD.

Here is a link to the NGFDA web site where you can dig into all the details:

https://www.ngfda.com/register-for-2021-fall-festival

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New EP on Bandcamp!

Here is a brand new EP for you at Bandcamp, where I have finally recorded some of my best takes of two pentatonic originals that go back a few years: Five Tones of Wonder, and Koehler’s Pond Meditation. There’s also some brand-new recordings of a few Celtic traditional tunes that have been great fun. These recordings have a bit more color and harmony than usual, and in the case of Ballinderry, I have revamped the tune into a kind of minimalistic, but jazzy round (even though it does not work as a traditional round in its original form). Another Irish tune in this collection is the ever-popular waltz South Wind. Red Is The Rose is a Scots melody attributed to Robert Burns.

Five Restful Tunes for Dulcimer EP

And here is a free pdf tablature download for 4 out of 5 of the tunes here (I don’t have anything in tablature yet on this new South Wind):

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Magical, Peaceful Instrumentals Playlist

This is one of my favorite playlists of the ones I curate myself on Spotify. It has a wide variety of instruments and genres, but the common theme is a simple, folk-oriented approach to melody and harmony. You’ll hear some minimal pieces on piano by some of my favorite players, some great accordion work by the amazing Maria Kalaniemi, or some mesmerizing modal compositions by Whalebone (UK-based ensemble).

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New Release on Spotify!

I have just released a dulcimer instrumental track on Spotify!! It is a great Irish traditional waltz that is very mesmerizing and circular. I learned it many years ago from a recording by the English guitarist John Martyn. He played his guitar through a Leslie tone cabinet to get the swirling, almost psychedelic effect. My take is a little more meditative and is probably more relaxing:

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QuaranTUNE 4.0 Registration!!

I’ll be teaching 4 workshops at this June’s virtual dulcimer festival:

Ideas, Tips, and Musical Devices You Can Use Right Away (Level 4)

In this session, you’ll make some interesting and unique music using only 5 tones. You’ll try some easy chord substitutions, and learn some of my favorite 4-chord loops to jam around. You’ll discover the power in changing up the time signature, tempo, and groove of a familiar folk tune. And you’ll try some “riffs” that you can move around to any chord you want. Tuning DAD. Friday Session 2

“Scarborough Fair” and Two More English Folk Song Melodies (Level 4)

I love the haunting modal character of many traditional English folk melodies. In addition to “Scarborough Fair”, you’ll learn a wonderful melody from Cornwall called “I Love My Love”. “Dives & Lazarus” is another great tune similar to “Star of the County Down”. You’ll get the bare-bones melody and chord-melody style on this one, as well as a carefully-arranged chord study. Tuning DAD. Saturday Session 2

Great Scots Melodies – “Kelvingrove” and “Willy O’Winsbury” (Level 3)

You’ll learn “Kelvingrove” in the Key of G while tuned DAD. This is a slow waltz that has a grace and gentle beauty that’s hard to beat. “Willy O’Winsbury” is one of my all-time favorite Scots ballads. You’ll get both of these tunes in chord-melody style, and I’ll share my left-hand fingerings with you as much as possible. Tuning DAD. Saturday Session 6

Easy Irish Airs and Lullabies (Level 3)

You’ll be totally enchanted with these slow, meditative airs from Ireland. “Baidin Fheilimi” (“Phelim’s Boat”) is a 3/4 time lullaby that we’ll be doing in a simple, sparse arrangement using a lot of open strings. “Ebhli Ghail Chiuin Ni Chearbhaill” (“The Fair and Charming Eileen O’Carroll”) is much more mesmerizing and circular. Finally, my original “Irish Lullaby No. 1” gets more of a chord-melody treatment. Tuning DAD. Friday Session 5

Here is the link to register:

QuaranTUNE 4.0 Info and Registration

And you can listen to some of the tunes I’ll be teaching here:

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Piano Meditations

Most of the playlists I curate on Spotify contain tracks of guitar and plucked string instruments (including mountain and hammered dulcimers). However, since I’m connected to an outstanding international network of musicians who also curate their own playlists, I have made a special playlist of my favorite meditative pianists. Have a listen!! These instrumentals will take you on a journey!!!