These Are A Few Of My Favorite Picks!

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Ever since I first got acquainted with the mountain dulcimer in 1970, I have been fascinated by the variety of textures available when strumming across all the strings at once, or picking individual notes. The type of material that is used in a pick has a lot to do with the texture of the sound you get, and the flexibility is also an important factor.

In a general sense, I tend to use very flexible picks when strumming across all the strings (like the thin triangles above), and medium-to-thin picks when I want some individual notes and some strums here and there (like the nylon .60mm or .73mm gray picks above). If I’m playing arpeggios I tend to favor really chunky, massive picks like the black nylon or the 1.14 Ultex.

There are some radically different new materials now in picks: some of the black picks above with “COOL” written on them have a very rubbery feel and there is no click whatsoever. Sometimes this is exactly what I’m looking for. Other times I need more high end and more of the traditional dulcimer sound, and I go for the red Herdim picks or the round “pointless” picks (the red ones are the thinnest). I LOVE these round picks! Here is the link where you can order a trial pack:

pointless picks

Most picks aren’t expensive, and the smaller music stores do MUCH better than the big chain stores as far as selection and ability to get your hands on the picks. Go wild and buy a whole bunch of picks made out of completely different materials. Get some real soft super-thin strumming picks, get some medium nylon or tortex, and try a variety of materials in the thick chunky style.

Happy Pickin’ and Happy Happy New Year!!!

Jerry Rockwell

 

Sounds From The Circle VII !

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SFTC7-CoverI’m so thrilled to be a part of this incredible MP3 Compilation (for the second year in a row) with my piece for electric dulcimer “Louie – Very Free and Easy”!! This is a compilation of 49 artists from the New Age Music Circle (a ning community) put together by New Age music pioneer Suzanne Doucet, and Beth Hilton. There is an enormous amount of work in a project like this, and in this case, the end product is just spectacular: the music flows effortlessly, and you can just let it play for a soothing, relaxing, yet uplifting experience. Here is the official text:


About The New Age Music Circle & Sounds from the Circle VII

The New Age Music Circle – an online community of almost 1700 artists, industry professionals and fans –presents its seventh MP3 compilation in as many years with Sounds from the Circle VII. Produced by Suzanne Doucet, founder of the Circle, the compilations have become favorites among music fans as well as professional radio programmers and wellness practitioners who appreciate the ability to play almost four hours of music without stopping.

Just a sampling of the New Age music sub-genres included are Mystical, Chill, Ambient, Meditative, Vocals, Nature, Trance, World, Solo Piano, Space, Electronic and more! Sounds from the Circle VII is available in both physical format and duplicated in online playlists in Spotify and iTunes for all tracks available there by our launch date of 5/12/15. The Sounds of the Circle compilations are always eclectic, showcasing the wide range of inspiration, interpretation and musical vision within the New Age genre from countries across the globe including the USA, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, England, Scotland, India, Malaysia, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, Spain, Venezuela and more.

Sounds from the Circle VII will have increased promotional presence this year, including YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Spotify, iTunes and Instagram. Find out more about this music, or join the New Age Music Circle at http://newagemusik.ning.com

For more information, or for media review copies, event distribution, and promotional giveaways, contact The B Company, bethhilton@theBcompany.com, at 310-560-8390.


The Artists of SFTC VII

SFTC VII participating artists and groups include:

Ricky Kej & Wouter Kellerman – Fiona Joy – Minstrel Streams – Bryan Carrigan – Sean Christopher – Lia Scallon – Isadar – Spencer Brewer – Michael Dulin – Sherry Finzer – Jennifer DeFrayne – Pamela Jamian – Rupam Sarmah – Mythos – Lisa Downing – Peter Kater – Kristin Amarie & David Lanz – Denise Young – Anima – Merrill Collins – Bill Wren & Frank Ralls – Mark Pinkus – Tron Syversen – Louis Colaiannia – Michael Hoppé & Giuditta – Heidi Breyer – John Morgan – Joniel – Sensitive Heart – Peter Garnvik – Jerry Rockwell – 7and5 – J. M. Quintana Cámara – Peter Calandra – Vibeke Sonora – Dr. Sounds – Michael Joseph – Anaya Music – Elise Lebec – Antje Nagula – Lynn Yew Evers – Natascha Wilczek – Tajalli – Zamora – Luna Blanca – Sunsaria – Suzanne Doucet – Jon Richards – David Vito Gregoli.

Pentatonic Scales on the Mountain Dulcimer

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Pentatonic just means “5 tones” !! The Major Pentatonic is a great one to get started with: it is FUN, it is HAPPY, and there’s no way of getting into trouble with “wrong notes!”

For me, pentatonics have always meant FREEDOM:

  • Freedom to Explore
  • Freedom to Improvise
  • Freedom to Try Something!

On the DAD dulcimer the five notes in the D Major Pentatonic Scale (D, E, F#, A, B) are laid out very nicely on the bass and melody strings:

fret: 0 – 1 – 2 – 4 – 5 – 7 – 8 – 9 – 11

On the middle string we have:

fret: 0 – 1 – 3 – 4 – 5 – 7 – 8 – 10 – 11 – 12

Here are some easy fingerpicking exercises to get you started going up and down the major pentatonic. If you are a flatpicker, make sure your pick direction is always alternating, even when crossing strings! Once you get the hang of it, you should make up your own exercises–these are just to get you started:

jpeg of D Major Pentatonic TAB exercisesThe first four 4-measure sections should each be played as many times as you can stand it. Take the tempo as slow as you need, making sure that the quarter-note and half-note sections breathe some and don’t feel too anxious (I always have to remind myself to take a conscious breath!)

 

Dulcimer TAB: Ideas for Hey, Ho, Nobody Home

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There are many possibilities for melodies to go over the Em – D chords that accompany the round Hey, Ho, Nobody Home. Here are some of my ideas on this with your DAD-tuned dulcimer with a capo on the first fret. The basic idea is that you go right up the basic 6-tone (or hexatonic) scale (E – F# – G – A – B – D), and then come right back down. You can go up to the 5th of the Em chord (B) and then come down if you want, and then you can decorate these bare-bones lines a little bit. This is basically how the TAB is set up, but try to use your imagination, remembering that two beats on Em – then two beats on D —- this is the basic reference structure.  (this could be played on any instrument that plays chords, or on another dulcimer, but for our purposes here, it is a silent little structure that runs in the background)

dulcimer tab for getting through Em - D chords

Hexatonic Scale with Em and D Triads

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I found a very interesting way to build a hexatonic (or 6-tone) scale using just two adjacent triads, with no overlapping notes or common tones. Here is the diagram of the six tones from low to high, and a diagram showing how the two triads are complementary and how they are interlocked:

Diagram of D and Em Triads complementing each other to form a hexatonic scale

Diagram of D and Em Triads complementing each other to form a hexatonic scale

The dulcimer TAB below the notes is for DAD tuning, and the important thing here is to see the 7 – 5 – 4 of the D, and then the 8 – 6 – 5 of the Em. Each triad adds three essential ingredients to the hexatonic scale: there is no overlap. I’ve been using this scale referenced to Em as the tonic chord, so we have: the notes E (Root) – F# (2) – G (b3) – A (4) – B (5) – D (b7).

So for the great round Hey, Ho, Nobody Home–which does an endless cycle of Em / D / –this scale works wonders going consecutively down or up, and in many patterns that can be sequenced over the repeating chords.