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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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Modal Chord Progressions!

I have always been a fan of Gary Ewer’s online resources for learning basic music theory and improving your songwriting skills, but when the subject is very close to my heart, like Modal Chord Progressions, all of my lights and buzzers start to go off simultaneously!!

Gary Ewer has a post about how to get Lydian Mode progressions to work. I’ve tried some of these ideas over the years with limited success, but Gary goes into some detail about the specific problems with the Lydian, and how your ear can get easily led to the relative major (Ionian) or other relative mode.

If you want to try Lydian Chord Progressions on your DAD-tuned dulcimer, I suggest G Lydian as your tonal center. This way, you might have a home G chord, going to an A chord, then to something other than D. Why don’t you want to go to D? Because it will sound like a progression that comes HOME to D!! (IV – V – I)

What you really need to do is get the G chord to sound like HOME: even if it has that unsettling #4 (C# which you can find on the 2nd fret of the middle string) somewhere in a melodic element that goes over the G chord!

Let me know if you have any success with Lydian chords, but you might also have a look at Gary Ewer’s other GREAT articles on Modal Chord Progressions, linked on his blog below the article.