Natural Talent vs. Hard Work

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:

Source: Natural Talent vs. Hard Work

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” – gmail.com (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

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

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!