On Sunday afternoon, November 4, a small bunch of us gathered to celebrate my twelfth dulcimer anniversary with a little concert.
(Picture by Ruthie)
John Sherck got the whole thing on video:
My friend and harp-playing colleague Beth Pare’s husband Paul graciously agreed to film the concert yesterday. Please excuse the fuzz and buzz — the video was taken by a point-and-shoot digital camera from all the way across the room.
Scandinavian Walking Tunes
Polska efter Höök-Olle
And here’s a video of the Masanga Marimba Ensemble covering the original by Mhuri Yekwa Muchena.
Slip Jig from Style, by Denis Carey
Liberty — student version
Liberty — at tempo
I’m not sure what’s going on with the ringing / buzzing.
Sometimes I like to let little ones try the dulcimer. I brought it to Amy’s preschool class once, and here’s another one exploring. It’s sweet to see them enjoy the sounds they can make and discover different aspects of the dulcimer, the hammers, and music in general.
I confess there are also times when I am not up for young (or old!) exploration. If anything ever happened to my dulcimer I’d be heartbroken, and it would not be easy to replace. Plus, I don’t have insurance that covers it outside our home.
I am gaining confidence in “good enough” tuning — sometimes what doesn’t sound perfect to me right in playing position sounds just fine via a video, or if I’m on the other side of the dulcimer or a little further away.
I would want to be more exact in tuning for a CD, or for an important event like a concert or wedding ceremony. But for background music, especially outside, this tuning is good enough.
Easter Thursday is an English country dance tune, in 3/2 meter. The middle section is what I play if someone else is playing melody, but it sounds rather nice on its own as well.
A trio version is available on my Christmas CD, What Child Is This, with Craig Higgins on guitar and Jerry Drumheller on fiddle.
I love my Conn Strobotuner ST-11.
It’s an old strobe tuner. Inside there’s a patterned wheel and some strobe lights — one moves according to the pitch of the note on my dulcimer, and the other moves according to the correct pitch, and the closer I get to exactly in tune, the slower the movement. It’s so precise that even if it’s still moving a little, I know it’s going to sound good. So, for me, it makes tuning a little more relaxing, with a lot less second-guessing and waiting than I had with the digital tuners I’ve used.
It’s almost always made some noise on the B note, and recently it’s started having noise on C as well — and the movement for C doesn’t seem to be accurate any more. Sometimes it is — but sometimes it claims my dulcimer is far sharper than it actually is.
From what I’ve read at Peterson’s forums (they bought Conn), it sounds like the bearings in the motor are wearing down, so the motor will need to be replaced. Their service facility is about three hours away, so I could avoid shipping charges, which with something this heavy would probably cost more than six hours of gas. In 2008, the motor cost $80. That’s almost as much as I paid for the tuner.
So… I may look around Ebay for another one… or maybe look into having this one repaired… or maybe consider a newer model if I can get one used.
Peterson also makes virtual strobe tuners — I don’t know whether they have the same advantages a real strobe has, or whether it’s just about aesthetics. More research needed.
Tomorrow morning I am playing at the South Bend Farmers Market, outside, on probation. If approved, I might get to play there regularly, and inside.
I thought I would need to tune the beastie this afternoon, and didn’t get around to it before my student arrived. I noticed that it sounded fine as she played it, so I figured it would be fine for tomorrow as well. Whew! It’s always nice to avoid a tuning, especially when I’ve been doing a lot of work with my hands and don’t want to stress them. (I have hypermobility and not much strength, so they’re prone to injury; hence my special ergonomic hammers.)
Anyway, I rejoiced by practicing the obligato for Sheep May Safely Graze, and then decided to try recording it. I wasn’t able to get an errorless recording, but here it is anyway. Oh, and I’m sorry it’s rather quiet — I forgot how weak my camera’s mic is!
(I can’t play the obligato and the melody at the same time; check out this one to hear the melody sung beautifully.)
I have a student again — it’s nice to get back to teaching. She wants to learn Shenandoah and O Susanna, so we recorded basic melody for each in our lesson today.