by Steve Eulberg
On my recent tour of the Pacific Northwest, I was able to finally meet Lance Frodsham of Vancouver, Washington. Lance is a teacher and performer of the mountain dulcimer with several recordings and books of music for dulcimers published by Mel Bay. He is also one of the coordinators of the annual Kindred Gathering (which celebrated its 37th gathering in the Pacific Northwest this past August!)
Lance and I have corresponded but had never met face to face, or had the opportunity to jam. We fixed that right off, then he pulled out this epinette des vosges (a 6-string French ancestor/cousin of the mountain dulcimer.) This one had been built for him by Christian Toussaint in France.
The fretboard is diatonic beneath the paired the melody strings, but chromatic beneath the “middle string” which allows Lance the opportunity to play a mixed mode tune with the major (Ionian) melody on the melody strings and move to the middle string to play in the parallel minor mode (Aeolian) for the second part of the tune before returning back to the melody strings to repeat the A section again.
The extra strings provide wonderful, resonant drone accompaniment. This was a real treat, thanks, Lance!