This post is designed to be a listening resource for my new workshop on how you can make your dulcimer playing more interesting and varied by using some common musical devices and tips. These tracks are all on Spotify, though you can find them on Apple Music and other streaming platforms if you wish. This workshop is being given at the amazing North Georgia Foothills Dulcimer Association Virtual Fest.
Chord Substitution Ideas on Skip’s Jam-A-Round (Lullaby for a Starry Night)
This part of the workshop deals with easy chord substitution ideas: D to Bm, G to Em, and A to F#m. We’ll use my Lullaby for a Starry Night to illustrate this principle.
Riffs and Sequences
This topic is best illustrated by some tablature and music: an excerpt from my first book of Patreon lessons.
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:
This article by Linda Ratcliff in Dulcimer Crossing is a very encouraging read for those who feel they have been left out of the talent thing. It certainly applies to many beginners on the mountain dulcimer, but it also applies to beginners on any instrument. Music did NOT come naturally to me! I had to work very, very hard and deliberately to learn rock and blues guitar when I was 13 or 14 years old. I had very little encouragement from my family and I had a very shaky sense of rhythm at the start. Playing along with some of the greats helped, but it was a long, hard struggle.
Now maybe music shouldn’t be a such a struggle, but there can be a confidence that comes from the right kind of training – and especially rhythmic training – so go ahead and read this and see if it helps:
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” – gmail.com (you know the deal- no spaces: everything run together)
I was messing with one of my descending aeolian scale studies last night, and found a section that I thought might go well with some noter sliding or portamento effects. I think this one worked out pretty well (the noter stuff starts about halfway through):