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New Fiddle Lesson by Vi Wickam

New Fiddle Lesson by Vi Wickam

by Steve Eulberg

The Arkansas Traveler is one of Vi’s favorite old-time tunes, and crosses several different genres from old-timey Ozark style to Texas style, and even to bluegrass.

The version in this lesson is on the beginner level.  This is also a tune that was featured on Fiddle Whamdiddle’s Not My Monkey recording.   

Vi has taught a brand-new lesson on this tune for DulcimerCrossing.com here.

Subscribe to and get access to all of the lessons all of the time!

Vi plays his favorite variations from Major Franklin for
the inaugural video of his Fiddle-Tune-A-Day in 2012.

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2018 in fiddle, history, lessons, subscriber news

 

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Dulcimer Articles Archive

Dulcimer Articles Archive

by Steve Eulberg

Since appearing on the cover of Dulcimer Players News in 2002 (see above), Steve has been writing articles to share what he has learned with the dulcimer community.

Dulcimersessions.com was a website hosted by Mel Bay Publications and was coordinated and edited by Lois Hornbostel.  Sadly, the website is no longer hosted and all of the resources published there are lost to the bits and bytes of time in the internet age.

Dulcimer Players News is a quarterly magazine for enthusiasts of both kinds of dulcimer and has been in publication since 1975!  First under the direction of Maddie MacNeilthen Dan and Angie Landrum, it is now published by Ashley Ernst, who has recently taken the helm.

I have written several articles (15) for both outlets about a variety of topics, and because of the vagaries of the internet, I have compiled them on my website here.

  1.  The DulcimerSessions articles (Colorado Dutch Hop, ‘Twas in the Moon of Wintertime & Still, Still, Still) are all available as downloads to read there.

2.  The pre-2012 Dulcimer Players News articles are available in the DPN archives on issuu.com via clickable links.

The articles published since then are not yet archived, but can be found in back issues.

Topics include:

Playing a Scottish Strathspey

Jazzing it up:  Playing Jazz on dulcimers (1-3-5 tuning and the classic ii-V-I progression)

Playing Backup on Dulcimers (3-part series that features bass lines)

Creating Dulcimer-Friendly Arrangements for Dulcimer Ensembles (5-part series)

Playing Blues on Mountain Dulcimer

Improvising on the Dulcimer “Tweaking Twinkles”

If you missed an issue and can’t find the back issue but are still interested in the topic, contact me and I’ll be certain that you get what you need!

I also need to say, if you haven’t yet subscribed to the incredibly affordable and inestimably valuable resource that is Dulcimer Players News, I urge you hurry and to subscribe today!

 

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Tam Kearney Dulcimers

Tam Kearney Dulcimers

by Steve Eulberg

I was picking through my photo archives and was so delighted to uncover these photos!

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Tam Kearney, co-founder of Toronto’s Fiddler’s Green and dulcimer-builder

Tam Kearney was a mainstay in the Toronto folk music scene after growing up in Glasgow and then moving to Canada in the 1960s.  Unfortunately for us, he passed in 2013.  (Read Ian Robb‘s eulogy in SingOut! Magazine here.)

I was on tour in Toronto in March of 2017 and was able to play a house concert for Lynn Westerhout, Tam’s spouse, and she allowed me to borrow and play on (2) of his hand-crafter instruments for the concert and the day of workshops the following day.

(You can read my blogpost about the concert here)

The first dulcimer I am calling Shamrock because of the soundhole shapes.

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Shamrock headstock detail

The second dulcimer I am calling Heart because of the soundhole shapes.  (For some reason the shamrock inlay adorns the heart dulcimer!)

I wonder how many more treasures like these are spread across North America?

Let us know when you spot one, see if you can play it, take pictures and we’ll share it here!

 

 

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Historic Dulcimers in England

Historic Dulcimers in England

by Steve Eulberg

I was honored to be the American mountain dulcimer tutor for the Nonsuch Dulcimer Club’s Fall Festival in Malvern, England last month.

Thanks to Geoff Reeve-Black, I was also able to see some historic mountain dulcimers from his collection that I am pleased to show to you here:

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This one was built by Edd Presnell from North Carolina.  Some people find the traditional wooden tuning pegs to be a challenge (and a chore!) but these operated smoothly, AND accurately, even though I was coaxing the instrument into a couple of different tunings.

samcarrelltndulcimer1.jpg

The second instrument was built by Sam Carrell of Tennessee.   Like the Presnell dulcimer, this one also had friction pegs, but has the classic “fiddle” shape that Mike Clemmer also builds with in Townsend, Tennessee.  Like Mike’s, this one is also built to be strung as a 5-string instrument, but Geoff had it set up as a 4 equi-distant string instrument.

As I took the photo of Geoff, holding the Presnell dulcimer above, he quipped:  “Ah, a photo of two fossils.”

That makes me one grateful dulcimer paleontologist for sure!

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And here is a view of our multi-instrument jam in the Lawnside Room on the first night!  (This was just a harbinger of all the good music shared throughout the weekend.)

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And this photo is the clear evidence that this dulcimer festival was taking place in England.  Where tea (and coffee) were served twice a day, and after tea-time, the bar opened for the rest of the evening, throughout dinner and the evening jam session.

 

 

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Habits Announcement (Ends 9/30/18)

Habits Announcement (Ends 9/30/18)

“Hi, this is Steve Eulberg with another Habit for Your….

….well, it’s not exactly a Habit, it’s an announcement:

For people who are developing their Habits for a Healthy Music Habitat.

My patrons, on Patreon, have been able to support me so that I can finish this collection in a digitized fashion. Southern Harmony shape-note tunes arranged for Mountain Dulcimer Trios.

InstaSpecialOffer

And what I’m excited about is they were able to do that, and THAT let’s me get to work on the NEXT one, which is shape-note Fuguing tunes, from the Sacred Harp collection.

As a way of just thanking patrons and inviting YOU to be one of those patrons also, I want to give you a chance to get your name into the THANK-YOU PAGE of the digital book!
Of THIS one…AND…the NEXT ONE.

This is a special offer that only lasts until the end of September and I want YOU to have the chance to get in on it.

Patrons are also what help to support the creation of the Habits videos [for Your Healthy Music Habitat] and regular emails. [Habits from the Muse]

So, thank you for listening, for watching, for commenting, for suggesting ideas, and thank-you for your support.”

patreon.com/steveeulberg to sign up!

 

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Mountain Dulcimer Sighting!

Mountain Dulcimer Sighting!

by Steve Eulberg

It is always exciting to uncover or bump into another dulcimer sighting, in the course of one’s daily life (and/or internet searching!)

In this video there is a visual and audio sighting of Frank Profitt playing and singing the ballad Barbara Allen from 8:46-11:09.

His part of the video footage is from the Alan Lomax Collection

The Theme:  The Cultures of the Scots-Irish in the New world, the role that music plays on both sides of the Atlantic, during the passage across the sea and  today.

For further bio about Frank Profitt and his music see Folk-Legacy Records.

 

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Frank Proffitt

Frank Proffitt

by Steve Eulberg

In Pete Seeger‘s television series, Rainbow Quest, Episode 26, he hosted folklorist Frank Warner.  At about 26:27 they begin discussing Frank Proffitt, including some film of him playing his banjo at the Newport Folk Festival (begins at 40:09)

Frank is most well-known for preserving the song Tom Dooley,

Earlier in their conversation, Pete relates an exchange of letters between Howie Mitchell and Frank Proffitt about dulcimer building.  (38:27-38)

(Note:  Howie Mitchell’s Hammered Dulcimers:  How I Build them, was one of the references that I consulted before and during the building of my first two hammered dulcimers.)

 
 

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Mimi and Richard Fariña

Mimi and Richard Fariña

by Steve Eulberg

What a time in which to live!  The archive of so many treasures is available with a few clicks or keystrokes.

Pete Seeger hosted a television series in 1965-66 that had a very limited audience in the New York and New Jersey areas, called Rainbow Quest.

There was no studio audience yet Pete interacts with the camera as if it is an actual audience as he told stories and sang.

He had many guests and in this episode he hosted Mimi and Richard Fariña having met and heard them play and sing at the Newport Folk Festival recently.  Many episodes have been uploaded to Youtube and preserve a national treasure of American folk musicians.

Enjoy this one!

Richard Fariña’s dulcimer playing influenced many West coast players (e.g. Robert Force, Neal Hellman) as well as others across the country, despite his tragic death at such a young age.

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2018 in history, mountain dulcimer

 

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The Perfect Wrong Note

The Perfect Wrong Note

by Linda Ratcliff

If you ever strum the wrong note, or strike the wrong string with your
hammers …  just tell them you were playing the jazz version.
– Linda Ratcliff


The Perfect Wrong Note

My 16-year-old grandson plays the saxophone in his band at school, and he was telling me about trying out last week for the school jazz band. All the kids waiting for their turn were troubled by one note in the arrangement – an Eb. They thought if they could just play that note 1/2 step higher, it would sound perfect. But it was the wrong note.  

I could relate. I’ve been working on a new arrangement for “God Bless the USA” on my hammered dulcimer, to share around the 4th of July. I usually work out my arrangements by ear, rather than reading printed material, and there have been times that I had to test several different chords in a measure before I found the right one.

But now and then, the wrong chord actually sounds pretty good. If possible, I’ll include it in the arrangement, and play that chord as an arpeggio (with a series of “wrong notes”) before progressing to the chord with the notes you expected to hear. It makes a beautiful variation, and the audience enjoys hearing a familiar tune with a new slant.

If you’re playing with a group, or with others at a jam session, you’ll need to stick with the correct notes. But when you’re playing by yourself, be adventuresome. Learn to trust your musical side, and test alternate notes, chords, and rhythms for the old familiar tunes. Sometimes the wrong note can be just perfect.


If you have any questions, always feel free to ask Steve or myself.

Happy dulcimering,
Linda

 

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“Music Confounds the Machines”

“Music Confounds the Machines”

tboneburnettby Steve Eulberg

Focusing on the challenges that artists face in the current digital and mechanistic day and age, T Bone Burnett gave the keynote address at the AmericanFest in September of this year.

I found these words echoing in my soul:

“Music is to the United States as wine is to France. We have spread our culture all over the world with the soft power of American music.  We both have regions- France has Champagne, we have the Mississippi Delta.  France has Bordeaux, we have the Appalachian Mountains. France has Epernay, we have Nashville. Recorded music has been our best good will ambassador. The actual reason the Iron Curtain fell, is because the Russian kids wanted Beatles records. Louis Armstrong did more to spread our message of freedom and innovation than any single person in the last hundred years.  Our history, our language, and our soul are recorded in our music. There is no deeper expression of the soul of this country than the profound archive of music we have recorded over the last century.”

This is my experience of the power of music to bring people together across the divides of background, experience, age, culture, gender.

I see it six days a week in my Music Together classes with preschool children and families who speak languages from Korea, Russia, Greece, China, Serbian, Japan, Israel, India, Pakistan, Mexico, the Philippines, Brazil, Germany, Australia, England, Canada and the USA (and probably several more that I can’t even identify!)

But what confounds the machines and the census takers is what T Bone said, which is the reason for what we pursue in music:

“Art is a holy pursuit.

Beneath the subatomic particle level, there are fibers that vibrate at different intensities. Different frequencies. Like violin strings. The physicists say that the particles we are able to see are the notes of the strings vibrating beneath them.

If string theory is correct, then music is not only the way our brains work, as the neuroscientists have shown, but also, it is what we are made of, what everything is made of. These are the stakes musicians are playing for.”  (read the entire address here: keynote address)

These are certainly the stakes that I am playing for.

What experiences do you have to share which relate to these descriptions?

 

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2016 in history, lessons, subscriber news