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Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Ritchie Book

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GUEST 29 Apr 04 - 12:00 PM
Mudlark 29 Apr 04 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,Wesley S at Home 29 Apr 04 - 05:59 PM
Joybell 29 Apr 04 - 06:41 PM
JohnInKansas 30 Apr 04 - 04:19 AM
IanC 30 Apr 04 - 07:08 AM
KateG 30 Apr 04 - 08:20 AM
GUEST 30 Apr 04 - 08:55 AM
GUEST 30 Apr 04 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,JonMcNamara 30 Apr 04 - 09:20 AM
Wesley S 30 Apr 04 - 11:30 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Apr 04 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Apr 04 - 12:28 PM
Mudlark 30 Apr 04 - 12:35 PM
Joybell 30 Apr 04 - 07:23 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 01 May 04 - 02:28 PM
Maryrrf 01 May 04 - 03:29 PM
Art Thieme 01 May 04 - 05:39 PM
kytrad (Jean Ritchie) 01 May 04 - 06:05 PM
Mudlark 02 May 04 - 12:51 AM
black walnut 02 May 04 - 08:12 PM
Mudlark 02 May 04 - 10:15 PM
KateG 03 May 04 - 11:29 AM
GUEST 03 May 04 - 01:27 PM
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Subject: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Apr 04 - 12:00 PM

Hello, I'm thinking of taking up the mountain dulcimer. I play guitar, but only by ear, although I do know a good many chords. But I know nothing about music theory. I've browsed through the threads on Mudcat and I'm interested in getting the Jean Richie book. I like the fact that it's the old style, which is what I want to play. My question is - do you need to be able to read music to follow that book, or does she give tablature notations?


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: Mudlark
Date: 29 Apr 04 - 01:20 PM

Dear Guest...

I've somehow managed to lose my JR dulc. book so I'm not sure. I doubt it tho, as I can't read music either...can't even follow tabulature very easily, just play by ear. And for that kind of playing, nothing beats a dulcimer. Traditionally, only one string carries the melody, the other 2 (or 3) are drone strings. You can chord a dulcimer, tho easier in some tunings than others. Unlike a guitar, the d. is tuned to modes, so shifting from major to minor necessitates some retuning. The most useful mode is Mixolydian, as a few minors are possible, giving you a wide range of songs, and a good base for chording. This is an easy instrument to figure out by yourself, and is a lot of fun to just noodle around with, making up melodies as you go. There are dulcimer websites that will help with tuning, etc. Good luck.


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: GUEST,Wesley S at Home
Date: 29 Apr 04 - 05:59 PM

I just pulled my copy down from the shelf to check it. It has regular music notation but also has the frets you'll be playing printed directly over the notes. It's not exactly tab but it might help you learn how to read music - if that's your goal.


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: Joybell
Date: 29 Apr 04 - 06:41 PM

It's a very good book. Shows a lot of different tunings that make playing a dulcimer more interesting. Playing by ear and singing with it is the way to go. You can learn to read music later if that's what you want to do. I personally don't like tabulature it seems a dead-end method that doesn't lead anywhere.
I can't remember if this book has them but there are different ways to hold a dulcimer. I found holding it upright against my left shoulder like an auto harp is an interesting possibility. You can strum in a way that is more like using a guitar. The book I saw it in called it "The Volkswagon Stlye". Of course you can hold it like a guitar too. Have fun and good luck. Joy


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 04:19 AM

You can check out Jean Richie's website at Jean Richie homepage. Click on "Books" on the top bar, or go direct to
Folklife Books where it shows Jean's Dulcimer book at about the fourth item down. The description is brief, and doesn't really answer your question about tab:

"The Dulcimer Book - Jean Ritchie
"A clear instruction method on how to tune and play the dulcimer. Includes the words and music of 16 traditional songs such as Go Tell Aunt Rhodie, Old Joe Clark, and Pretty Polly, plus tuning instructions for six modes. Chapters on playing countermelody, fingerpicking, singing with the dulcimer, and much more. Fascinating historical notes, rare photographs, discography and bibliography are included.   "

For $12.95, it's probably worth it for the pictures.

Most beginner lap dulcimer books show a "string" with fret numbers for each note, or just show the fret number to press above or below each note in the written music. I believe this one is pretty much the same, at least for the "beginner" tunes, although I don't have it handy to look.

Jean does post here occasionally, and has been around within the last couple of days. If you click one of the "related threads" at the top of the page here, find a post by "kytrad" and click on the name, you'll get the list of all the threads she's posted to. She's probably been asked about the book many times here, and people do discuss it fairly often, so it shouldn't be hard to find an old thread with some talk about what's in it.

John


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: IanC
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 07:08 AM

The Basic Folk Library PermaThread has quite a good set of reviews of books on the Appalachian Dulcimer.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: KateG
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 08:20 AM

The Jean Ritchie book is a good starter because she introduces all of the different tunings which make the instrument much more interesting. A lot of players these days stick to the DAd (Myxolidian) tuning and never venture further. A catch is that many of the better older instruction books prefer the more traditional DAA (Ionian) tuning, not an insurmountable problem, but a factor if you want to jam with other players. Larkin Bryant's book is one of these...she has one of the best introductions to strumming, but DAd isn't introduced till nearly the end of the book. Elderly Music (www.elderly.com), Missigman Music (www.missigman-music.com) and Andy's Front Hall (don't have the URL) all have good selections of music books for the Dulcimer. Of the three, I would recommend Missigman: Donna Missigman is very helpful, plays the dulcimer and will be able to give you specific recommendations based on your needs and experience.


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 08:55 AM

Great book. The music is presented both in tablature and standard notation. Instructions for various tunings are given up front and the tunes indexed by tunings. Covers strumming, thumb strum and includes simple instructions for finger picking. Includes a basic history of the instrument; lots of good pix. If I could keep only one of my many dulcimer instruction books, Jean Ritchie's "The Dulcimer Book" would be it -- Pinetop Slim


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 09:15 AM

Thanks so much for the advice. Sounds like I can't go wrong with the Jean Ritchie book. I'll let you know how I get on with the Mountain Dulcimer. I'm looking on line to order one in the next couple of days and it seems there are lots of good possibilities. Prices range from under $100 to almost $400. Anyone have any recommendations or advice on ordering one? Are there great differences in playability/sound? I've considered ordering a kit and making my own but I am decidedly not handy at woodworking so that might be a bad idea!


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: GUEST,JonMcNamara
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 09:20 AM

If I recall correctly - the addition of the 6 1/2 fret (ie a fret between fret 6 and fret 7 on a standard keyboard layout) allowed an instrument tuned in Myxolidian to also play in the Major (Ionian) and minor keys). Jean's book - like Jean herself - stunning -
Jon


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: Wesley S
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 11:30 AM

It's most likely out of print but I also enjoyed a book called "In Search Of The Wild Dulcimer" - I don't have the authors names. This book was geared more toward the non-traditional approach but excellent anyway. Written for the beginner.


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 12:26 PM

I play mountain, and I've belonged to a club as well. To play this instrument, you have to learn to sound pieces out. You also have to know a lot of tunes in the first place. After that, it's duck soup.

I usually play in D-A-A, with D being the low string. In this tuning, if you play the A string (closest to you) with your index finger and put your 4th finger on the D srring one fret behind the inxdex finger, you have a chord. Two exceptions - for the note A, put the 4th finger on the 5th fret, and for B, put it on the 6th fret. Next, think of a major tune and start strumming. If you play guitar, this should come easily.

I don't think there is any instrument that is as easy to play a melody plus harmony as the mountain dulcimer.

I don't double the melody string, because it's too hard to tune the two of them perfectly. I use a soft thumb pick to bring out the melody instead.


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 12:28 PM

P.S. get a book at or through your public library.


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: Mudlark
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 12:35 PM

Guest 9:15AM...

Can't recommend Blue Lion dulcimers strongly enough! I also have a McSpadden, which is a very nice dulcimer, but the clarity and sustained sound of the Blue Lion instruments puts them head and shoulders above any other dulcimer I've ever heard..    And they are lovely people to deal with. Because the structure is less complex than the guitar, the range of sound is not quite as great, but especially if you already play a stringed instrument, I think the difference between dulcimers will be very apparent. Also, because it is a simple instrument, sound is very important, especially when you are beginning and cant jazz up playing with fancy chords/strums.


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: Joybell
Date: 30 Apr 04 - 07:23 PM

"In Search of the Wild Dulcimer" is by Robert Force and Albert d'Ossche. Artist Carole Palmer. Published by Amsco Music Publishing Company, New York. My edition is dated 1975.
It is a beautifully presented book and very easy to understand. It is a good companion book to Jean Richie's, I think. It is this book that gives the "Volkswagon" method, among many others, of holding a Dulcimer. If you can find a copy it's worth having. Joy


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 01 May 04 - 02:28 PM

Mudlark- I'd like to add that Blue Lion Folks (Bob and Janita Baker) also make a Jean Ritchie dulcimer; a top-of-the-line Walnut & Spruce, and a less expensive Cherrywood model. All are diatonic, but you can ask to have a 6 1/2 fret added. Anyone can see photos and read details about these dulcimers on www.jeanritchie.com   Just click on "Dulcimers."

Lovely thread- for me of course!Thanks for all the good things said herein about my dulcimer book.      Jean


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: Maryrrf
Date: 01 May 04 - 03:29 PM

What is the 6 1/2 fret? Does it usually come standard on Mountain Dulcimers? Also, I've heard you can't play minor notes on a dulcimer. I may be totally misinformed, but i this is true how do people get around it?


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: Art Thieme
Date: 01 May 04 - 05:39 PM

Not standard but some folks like it.

Art


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)
Date: 01 May 04 - 06:05 PM

It's standard on mine, because that's the way our old dulcimers were fretted. My guess is that some oldtimer was trying to start the major key scale(Ionian mode to you dulcimerites!) on the first (melody) string, on a mixolydian-tuned dulcimer, and when he got to the seventh fret it sounded "flat'" so he just hammered another fret in, and that was fine because sometimes, that little "wrong" note was needed. Nowadays of course, we know that the major scale, when tuned properly, begins on the third fret (fourth tone, counting the open string note), and we know how to tune to the mixolydian mode, and that scale begins on the open melody string. The other modes are possible too- the Dorian is especially lovely. One can tune even unto the Lydian mode- if there were any lydian-mode tunes to play (will this start the hunt for lydian-mode songs? Someone's sure to start a thread...........)

I dislike having a 6 1/2 fret because I'm always playing it by accident, having learned on the traditionally fretted instrument.

Latest dulcimer news: Sue Trump is bringing out her "Masters of the Mountain Dulcimer," as a book, in addition to the CD of the same title. Should be nice!             Jean


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: Mudlark
Date: 02 May 04 - 12:51 AM

Re minors on the dulcimer. If the melody string(s) is tuned down one full note from bass string, a stunning minor mode results (can't remember what the name of it is...Aolian?). Harder to chord in but very effective. Minors are very available ... you just have to retune for them.

Kytrad...thanks for the reminder re Blue Lion's Jean Richie model...it is a wonderful dulcimer.


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: black walnut
Date: 02 May 04 - 08:12 PM

I LOVE playing in minor keys on the dulcimer! It seems to be made for it.

~b.w.


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: Mudlark
Date: 02 May 04 - 10:15 PM

Me too, Black Walnut...Wayfaring Stranger, ShadyGrove, Hebrew folk tunes...great stuff!


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: KateG
Date: 03 May 04 - 11:29 AM

Blue Lion, McSpadden, Folkcraft/Folkroots all make excellent dulcimers that are very fairly price. Stay away from the "starter" dulcimers in plywood in the $100 range - you'll be frustrated far too soon. I have one that I started on: the action was about twice as high as normal, and the strings were far too heavy. Correcting those problems to make it playable was easy, but due to the inescapable laws of physics, it no longer played in tune with itself. Fortunatelly my dear husband took pity on me and bought me my McSpadden (walnut with a redwood top and a scroll peghead - I love it).

Depending on where you live, there are quite a number of dulcimer festivals going on over the summer. They usually have vendors who will let you try the different instruments (nothing like the old ear test for buying an instrument) and beginner/novice level classes for people who have never picked up a dulcimer before in their life. It's a great way to get started and to meet people with similar instruments. Kerry Anderson, a dulcimer maker in Arizona, has a good list of festivals on her website. Kerry's Festival List

Explore and enjoy!!!


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Subject: RE: Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Richie Book
From: GUEST
Date: 03 May 04 - 01:27 PM

I'm thinking about model #71 (I want a teardrop shape) from Black Mountain at Black Mountain Instruments


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