Playing in A (while tuned DAD)

Recently I’ve been working on some baritone dulcimer tracks in the AEA tuning (a Perfect 4th below DAD). Since some of my Patreon subscribers don’t have baritone dulcimers (yet, anyway!), it might be helpful to have some chord charts for the 4-chord loop I’m using for this Moon Over Water tune.

Normally we play that chord progression in D: D – A – Bm – G

— but transposed to A we have: A – E – F#m – D

So……starting in the lower frets of DAD tuning and moving up the fingerboard to higher positions, here are some block chords for you to arpeggiate or flat-pick any way you want:


And now moving up a bit:


And finally, here are some more complete triads using the G# on the 6+ fret of the middle string:

Moon Over Water (ambient)

Harmonizing Scales

I was looking back at the newsletters I published in early 2014, and in revisiting all the descending scales and modes, I got a good batch of new ideas. What inspired me most was working slowly and methodically with block chord shapes. These are moving along very slowly: I mostly keep them at the half-note level and take my time — letting them ring out nice and long.

Here is one version of the descending D Major (while I’m tuned in DAD):


Adding Minor Triads:


Four Chord Loops

I’ve always been nuts about simple chord progressions, especially those that are hypnotic and circular in their basic nature. If I’m tuned DAD on my dulcimer, this is one of the top circular progressions that I know of:

With an ascending bass line:


With a descending bass:


With chords in root position:


Here is another chord loop, though this one has only three chords, because you come back to the second chord one more time:


And here is the same progression a couple of times through, moving along with different inversions, and substituting Em or G6 for G:


In the charts above, If there is a slash after a chord symbol, and a note after the slash, the note after the slash refers to the lowest note or bass note. These are called “slash chords” and they are a GREAT way to show a bass-line and a chord progression at the same time. No slash just means that the chord is in Root Position with its Root in the bass.

May 2020 Dulcimer!

NEW RELEASE On Bandcamp!!!

Bandcamp is forgoing their share of revenue today, May 1st, so if you decide to download some of my new music, I will get 100%. This is a very helpful and generous gesture from a GREAT company! Many of us musicians and music teachers have been hit pretty hard by this COVID-19 Quarantine: we’ve had many gigs cancelled and festivals postponed or cancelled altogether. So this income helps a LOT!

My brand-new May 2020 Dulcimer EP just went live at around 7AM this morning. There are 6 tracks here representing some of my BEST work-in-progress. It is not available anywhere else (yet, anyhow) and all my recent EPs from earlier this year are “Pay what you want” including ZERO (you just enter “0” in the pay field).

Jerry Rockwell at Bandcamp

I hope everyone is getting through this COVID-19 Quarantine OK. Not much fun for us here in Northeast Ohio, but we’ve got some acres of trees around us, and life isn’t too different in many ways.

Skip’s Round (and Jam-A-Round!!) TAB and Music Download

This original tune is part of my 2017 Patreon lessons, and it is a FUN tune I keep coming back to over and over.

1.) The first page is basically the main melody (16 bars), with an 8-bar sparse bass part at the bottom. The latter may be used as sort of a ground for the whole tune, even though the next two pages have some specific “ground” parts to be used throughout – especially for group play.

2.) These next two pages are the parts for a round or a “Jam-A-Round” as I like to call it. This basically means that you can plug in any 8-bar part anywhere you want, so you have freedom to mix-and-match.

You’ll see some very “bare-bones” parts on these pages, consisting mostly of half-notes. These represent what you might call guide-tones or structural pitches. These are really cool, as they show us the overall contour of a melodic design: kind of the essence of a melody.

For me personally, they often serve as clues for when I want to change chords or harmony. For example, if I see a continually-descending melodic line, that’s my cue to try an ascending harmony part. This often creates a workable harmony with a minimum of “thinking” !!

The other use for these bare-bones parts is that they make a GREAT group playing experience, especially for players just getting started!

3.) The last two pages were the Intermediate Level when I first published them in 2017. As I’m looking back on them, and playing through them again right now, I’m getting oodles and boatloads of ideas!! I’m even writing some brand new parts!!! These color-chord harmonies add just a touch of jazz harmony with the minor 7th chords, but I have to be careful not to use too many — and not to use any Major 7th chords at all — because the result is often way too sweet and thick. (remember that much of my current music is extremely simple and minimalist, so that I’m really a less-is-more sort of guy. You may want to try more of the “tall chords” like the seventh and ninth chords for your own arrangements).

Descending Harmonized Scales (and Modes)

In the beginning of 2014, I was just starting my relationship with Mailchimp, one of the best email marketing companies on the planet, and I was really excited at that time with building chords off of each degree of a descending scale or mode. Here is an example of one of the pieces I recorded for my Starlight Variations EP:

Slow Descent (from Starlight Variations)

In my newsletters, which were sent twice a month in those days, I would link free downloads of some TAB and music for these studies of harmonized scales. Here is a collection of them for you (tuning is DAD throughout):

Want to hear more of these studies? Please let me know, because I have quite a few of these that haven’t been officially released on the streaming platforms. Thanks for listening and trying out the TAB!