RSS

Category Archives: history

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.)

 
 

Tags: , , , , , ,

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.

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Tags: , , , ,

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

 

Tags: ,

“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?

 

 
Leave a comment

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

 

Historical Music Printing

Historical Music Printing

renaissancemusictypesetby Steve Eulberg

Now, for a taste of History!

Luís Henriques has posted a terrific video that illustrates and describes the challenge and results of printing music using a printing press in the Renaissance.

Understanding the challenges of musical notation in the printing process can help us better appreciate the tools that are available to us today as we produce original music, arrange music for playing with friends and create tablature to translate our ideas for playing on dulcimers.

Stay tuned for more explorations!

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 3, 2016 in history, music theory

 

Introducing a New Instructor!

Introducing a New Instructor!

DulcimerCrossing is excited to welcome Aubrey Atwater AubreyPoster_sm(of Atwater-Donnelly) to the instructional team.

Aubrey teaches mountain dulcimer, from the Jean Ritchie family tradition.

Visit the Teacher Page and watch her introduction video.

Or, visit the Live Events page and watch the highlight video of her recent Premium Concert Window Show.

Subscribe here, to have access to all of her lessons!

 

 

Tags: , ,

Neal Hellman Featured in Hearts of the Dulcimer Podcast

Neal Hellman Featured in Hearts of the Dulcimer Podcast

Episode #014 The Hearts of the Dulcimer Podcast features DulcimerCrossing teacher Neal Hellman

NealHellmanHeartsofDulcimer

Wayne Jiang and Patricia Delich host this informative conversation with players of the mountain dulcimer across the country and across genres.  This edition features samples of music from several of Steve’s recordings:

Neal Hellman has played the mountain dulcimer for more than 40 years and is the founder, director, and one of the primary artists on the Gourd Music record label. Gourd Music recordings are known for lush arrangements often pairing the dulcimer with folk and classical instruments. With music by Gourd Music artists.

Guest:
Neal Hellman

Music:
• Durango from the CD Oktober County Neal Hellman, dulcimer; Kim Robertson, celtic harp; Bruce Abrams, guitar; Joe Weed, mandocello

• Slumber My Darling from the CD Dulcimer in the Mix (available as download only in iTunes) Neal Hellman, dulcimer; Kim Robertson, celtic harp; Barry Phillips, cello

• Ninety Pound Catfish from the CD Autumn in the Valley Neal Hellman, dulcimer; Paul Hostetter, banjo; Carl Rey, harmonica; Shira Kammen, violin; Todd Phillips, bass

• Come Life, Shaker Life from the CD Dulcimer in the Mix (available as download only in iTunes) Neal Hellman, dulcimer; Shelley Phillips, oboe; Robin Petrie, hammered dulcimer; William Coulter, guitar; Barry Phillips, cello and shaker

• La Mort De Coucy from the CD Oktober County Neal Hellman, dulcimer; Kim Robertson, celtic harp; Shelley Mathewson Phillips, English horn; Marti Kendall, cello

• Canarios from the CD Autumn in the Valley Neal Hellman, dulcimer; William Coulter, guitar; Shelley Phillips, recorders; Barry Phillips, percussion

• Pleasant Hill from the CD Emma’s Waltz Neal Hellman, dulcimer; William Coulter, guitar; Barry Phillips, cello; Shelley Phillips, English horn; Robin Petrie, hammer dulcimer; Susan French, violin

• Mountain Medley (June Apple) from the CD Autumn in the Valley Neal Hellman, dulcimer; Paul Hostetter, banjo; Robin Petrie, hammered dulcimer; Todd Phillips, bass; Joe Weed, violin

• Robertson’s Unreel from the CD Oktober County Neal Hellman, dulcimer; Robin Petrie, hammered dulcimer; Danny Carnahan, fiddle, mandola, and guitar

• Mountain Medley (The Last of Smith) from the CD Autumn in the Valley Paul Hostetter, banjo; Robin Petrie, hammered dulcimer; Todd Phillips, bass; Joe Weed, violin

 

Gourd Music
Neal’s YouTube Channel  
Gourd Music books
Pleasant Hill

Click on the image above (or

 

Tags: , , ,