Building Some Dulcimers Again

Due to some extreme family pressures, it has been next to impossible to get any of my handmade dulcimers built. Now that seems so be changing some, in that I have a few instruments on hand, and I’m hoping I can continue in this rhythm for at least the next two or three months. Let me know if there is something you are interested in or if you’d like some pricing info — email is jcrockwell – the “at sign” – (you know the deal- no spaces: everything run together)

North Carolina Hourglass (NCH model) with cherry back, sides, and fingerboard with spruce top. 26" nut-to-bridge string length

North Carolina Hourglass (NCH model) with cherry back, sides, and fingerboard with spruce top. 26″ nut-to-bridge string length

How to Create Chord Progressions That Grab an Audience’s Attention

this is one GREAT article! I got a killer 8-chord progression from tweaking one of the chorus progressions….

The Essential Secrets of Songwriting Blog

The progressions that really connect with audiences are the ones that fluctuate between fragile and strong.


Struggling to build an audience base? “The Essential Secrets of Songwriting” shows you every aspect of what makes a great song great. Read more..


Keyboard, ear phonesA few days ago I wrote a post that dealt with differences between verse and chorus progressions. In this post, I want to give you some precise examples of how that all works. If you find that coming up with a set of chord progressions that works feels more like hit-or-miss than anything else, try thinking of your chords this way:


Most songs focus on one chord as the tonic, or “home” chord, and overall, most of the progressions point to that tonic chord as being the most important one, a kind of musical anchor. With that in mind, however, different sections of the song will…

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On the way to Cranberry!

Mary and I are about to sample the splendor of at least two of the Finger Lakes near Penn Yan in upstate New York. Tomorrow we will arrive in Latham, NY for the 39th Cranberry Dulcimer and Autoharp Gathering. I will be teaching three workshops and also doing a featured concert set on Saturday night. If you are in the area, please check it out: it is a great festival with a long and wonderful history, and this year there are so many great workshop leaders:

2015 Cranberry Dulcimer & Autoharp Gathering


Great Stuff here on building dulcimers the old way!!


Hide glue is great stuff. Originally I figure if Homer use aliphatic glue, it must be right, but after taking the plunge and spending about $35 to set it up a hide glue pot, I love it! You must work quickly. I found somewhere on the web a guy who uses a primer trick to get the most out of a less than optimal joint. The sides are very thin on the dulcimore and the glue didn’t seem to take. First I tried a glue bottle but it wasn’t the way to go. (mess) Then I read the primer method and used a smaller brush and WooHoo!
I got my staple marking tool made. After finishing the latest dulcimore I tried it out. Being able to adjust the note with one hand is the way to go. I have no idea how other guys do it, but I’m really happy…

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Jerry Rockwell Mountain Dulcimer Newsletter 4/15/15

One Life Study in 4/4 – Lower Part

Here is the chord progression on which I based my 2008 study:

Bm / / / | / / / / |D / / / | / / / / |G / / / |D / / / |A / / / | / / / / :||

Last time we had the upper or melody part, and this time we’ve got the lower part:

One Life Study in 4/4 – Lower Part

NOTE: last time I lowered the melody part one octave, so that it falls within the most comfortable mid-to-lower range of your DAD dulcimer. If you want to play these two parts together, I suggest trying to take the melody part one octave higher. Remember: starting at the 7th fret, your dulcimer begins again one octave higher than the open position.

Here is the music and TAB for the upper melody:

One Life Study in 4/4 Melody Part

E Minor Hexatonic Jam-A-Round

This is probably THE MOST FUN I’ve had with the Jam-A-Round concept, where you can plug-in a whole bunch of new parts just about anywhere the form begins: usually over a simple descending scale (and the chords generated by that scale).

Only this time, instead of a diatonic (7-tone) scale, we have a 6-tone minor scale without the 6th degree. It isn’t E Dorian, because it doesn’t have the Major 6th or C#, and it isn’t E Aeolian, because it doesn’t have the minor 6th or C. So we’ll just call it E Minor Hexatonic.

This time around we’ll just get a start on the reference structure, but soon we’ll be showing you some melodic parts that go with it. Here are the basic triads for this exercise:

Em / / / |D / / / |Em / / / |D / / / |Em / / / |D / / / |Em / Bm / |Em / / / :||

This progression will go great with either the descending form of the scale:

fret numbers on bass string:

8 – 7 – 5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – 1-5-1

or the ascending form:

1 – 2 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 7 – 8-5-8

For some more insights into how this mostly-two-chord stuff works, try this workout on the round Hey, Ho, Nobody Home from a post on my blog:

Ideas for Hey, Ho, Nobody Home

…..and here’s another blog post showing how the Em and D triads “interlock” in an almost mystical way: each triad bringing to the table three unique notes, magically completing the hexatonic scale:

Hexatonic Scale with Em and D Triads

As always, let me know what you think, and send me any questions you have on any of this. I am experimenting with posting back issues of this newsletter here on my blog the following Wednesday of the newsletter date, and I may also post the older ones as time permits. Your suggestions are welcome!

Happy Spring!