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Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer–The Dark Side?

15 Aug
Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer–The Dark Side?

The debate rages between:

“traditionalists” who argue for a standard diatonic dulcimer (“I don’t want no extra frets bygummit!”);

“neo-traditionalists” who argue for a modified diatonic dulcimer with a 6+ fret (“well it is pretty standard these days”);

“practical-neo-traditionalists” who are supporters of multi-modified diatonic dulcimer with 6+ AND 1+ frets; (“but I NEED that extra fret to play C and F chords!”)

“people on the DARK side” who are supporters of entirely chromatic mountain dulcimers. (“hee, hee, hee…I can play EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE!”)

Names are called, epithets are thrown, opinions are solidified and offered loquaciously…

OK, the final description may be exaggerated in the dulcimer world, BUT, we are human and do have our opinions, dearly treasured, and not-infrequently shared.

Some will say:  “If you want to play a chromatic instrument, get a guitar!”  Others answer, “I already play dulcimer and piano, I don’t want to learn a guitar, too.”

National Champion, Erin Rogers, is one of these latter people.  (Disclosure:  I like to tease her about “going over to the dark side” with her chromatic dulcimer.  She retorts:  “Well, I don’t play a solid body electric, like you do!”—It’s all good.)

We at www.DulcimerCrossing.com are fortunate to have her share her experience of learning to play the Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer, comparing it to her extensive experience and facility with playing the diatonic mountain dulcimer.

Erin has begun a Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer series that we are now offering on our website.  She begins by describing her experience in learning, then reveals the benefits and limitations she’s experience, and moves forward by playing both familiar and unfamiliar tunes in familiar and unfamiliar keys—all without retuning!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 15, 2013 in lessons, mountain dulcimer, music theory

 

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2 responses to “Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer–The Dark Side?

  1. Ehukai

    August 18, 2013 at 2:57 am

    Evolution is a fickle thing…..every little modification makes it better or worse…live or die……..we are watching this instrument evolve which includes chromaticism…….the strongest shall survive……

    I believe it may have started chromaticly and some smarty pants said to a zither maker “Save the frets and put in only the ones I use”

    It’s like candy….some don’t like peppermint…..so find what suits you….I find chromatics are a real fun treat….play with anything easily……more of the same dulcimer moves in any key…………

    There is no right or wrong only thinking makes it so……..

    Evolve,

    Ehukai

     
  2. Aane Pikkola

    March 3, 2014 at 2:51 am

    Holy Cats! I’ve been making and playing chromatic dulcimers for years! Never realized there was such a big brouhaha about it. Hey, I put pearl dots on the diatonic frets so I can keep track of everything. Works a treat. So. My question is…how is the dulcimer world going to accept my next creation: conflating a six-string chromatic dulcimer with a Hungarian Citera? Will I be tarred and feathered? Will I have to continue to play my instruments quietly, in the dark of night…just in case the diatonic police should hear me? Watch out dulcimer world…you ain’t heard nothing yet.
    Greenflash.

     

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