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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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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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New Single Coming Soon!

NineBridgesLamentation

This is a brand-new version of an original tune from about 1993. It is in the spirit of an Irish slow air, and it has strong modal flavoring throughout. The original recording was just solo acoustic mountain dulcimer….fingerpicking style and just some open string drone in spots. This new recording uses a few tracks of  electric dulcimer, along with some ambient wash in the background. I have also added more chords: making it a bit less of a dronal texture.

Here is the link for doing a pre-save on the major streaming platforms:

Nine Bridges Lamentation 

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Spotify Playlists

For the last 4 or 5 months, I’ve been spending more and more time gradually building quality playlists of relaxing and meditative instrumental music on Spotify. Thanks to this platform’s Spotify For Artists program, I’ve had some success in networking with other musicians who are also building great playlists. Here I want to introduce you to the playlists that I’m personally building, and encourage you to follow them and listen:

Relaxing Acoustic Instrumentals – This one is one of my more popular playlists. It includes the wonderful guitarists Michelle Qureshi, Tommy Berre, Lance Allen, and Vin Downes. It has the wonderful hammered and mountain dulcimer of Thomsina Levy on her collaborative new album with David Darling, a master cellist who is a very popular and influential New Age artist. And we also have the stunning Chapman Stick playing of Andy Salvanos, of Adelaide, Australia! This playlist leans slightly toward the folk and Celtic influences, though there is a wide variety of music included.

Atmospheric Calm, Ambient Guitar, Dulcimer, and Chapman Stick – This one features some of the leading “post-rock” artists, like Helios, Hammock, The Echelon Effect, and Lowercase Noises, as well as great ambient guitarists Erik Wollo and Jeff Pearce.

Hypnotic, Circular, and Mesmerizing – I am a huge fan of minimalist, constantly-repeating and circular chord cycles!!! This music is positively trance-inducing, and it will often get your mind out of ruts it does not need to be in!! Here we have Tracey Chattaway, Message To Bears, The American Dollar, Clem Leek, and many more amazing masters of this circular music.

Waking Up On Cloud Nine – These are the dreamiest most sublime tunes I can find! From Parijat (my current favorite) to Meg Bowles, to Iceland’s phenomenal Olaf Arnalds, it just doesn’t get any dreamier than this!!

If you’d like to hear some of my music on Spotify, here is a link to my official “Spotify For Artists” profile:

Jerry Rockwell on Spotify

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Relaxing Acoustic Instrumentals

Here is a playlist on Spotify that I’ve been slowly building for a while. It has some great acoustic guitarists, like Vin Downes, Lance Allen, Michelle Qureshi, Tommy Berre, Al Petteway, and many more, but there are also some players of Hammered Dulcimer, Mountain Dulcimer, Chapman Stick, and Harp. Many of these tunes have strong Celtic influences, or are actually traditional Irish or Scots tunes. Enjoy!

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November’s Waltz on Soundcloud

This one has become a long-term project in many ways: it started out with Kate’s Tune probably five years ago. Kate’s Tune, in 4/4 time, is kind of a mesmerizing mixture of a Grateful Dead jam and something from the slower end of the Celtic realm. This month we are working on the waltz version at my Patreon lessons.

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Introductory Dulcimer Playlist

At Spotify, I made a 14-tune introductory playlist for my catalog of electric and acoustic dulcimer music. This spans three full-length albums, with a shorter album, due 9/15, arriving shortly.

This is great music for relaxing, reading, studying, doing yoga, meditation, and even winding down into a deep sleep.

https://open.spotify.com/user/122820830/playlist/6m5omBqEX7RkVCGF1F5qHc?si=nn45tiyGTwCaCkisArEPOg

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This Saturday – September 15 – Starlight Variations Arrives!

Less than a week now! It took about two years to complete this new album, and we are pretty jazzed-up about it. There are eight tracks of meditative electric and acoustic mountain dulcimer: seven of my own compositions, and one traditional tune – the Irish song/air Star of the County Down. I think I learned this in 1979, so I’ve been “at” this tune for some time 🙂

The album opens with a tune called “Light Always Comes” – essentially a re-jiggering of a multi-year composition project using one of my favorite chord progressions of all time. This version has a tiny dose of Baroque influence – mostly in the underlying structure and in how some of the parts are written — but overall it has a contemporary, relaxing new age vibe.

 

If you’d like to hear this new album before it is on all the streaming platforms, you can listen right here:

Starlight Variations

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New EP Release Coming in September!

My last album, The Singing Messenger, was released November 15th, 2016. Since then I’ve been busy with a Winter-themed album (which is still in process), and this brand-new EP entitled Starlight Variations.

This new EP will be available in all the major streaming platforms and at Bandcamp on September 15, 2018. Until then, you can hear some of the tracks right here:

Starlight Variations EP

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Starlight Variations

Listening to Jerry Rockwell’s new EP “Starlight Variations” is like opening a magic box. The gentle but sharp sound of the dulcimer, combined with heartfelt and unpretentious composition, makes this into something truly unique – even divine. If you are new to Jerry Rockwell’s music, “Starlight Variations” EP is a great place to start. – Read the whole BT Fasmer review