kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (mountain dulcimer)
Why dulcimer?

Some of you have wondered, "Why learn to play the dulcimer, when you're such a cracking harper?"

Gosh, there are all sorts of reasons. In answer to the question, "Why don't you just play that on the harp?" I guess I would say this:

All instruments are different, and they all bring something different to whatever music you make with them. Because I play the wirestrung harp, I have to keep my fingernails relatively long on at least two fingers of my left hand, since one plays the wire harp with the fingernails. When I started playing the harp, I gave up playing the guitar. I miss an instrument I can make easy, strumming or fingerpicked chords on. What I do on the harp does not sound like a fretted, strummed instrument.

The wire harp, like the most traditional dulcimers out there (but unlike my dulcimer, which has a number of extra frets), is essentially a diatonic instrument. While you can do a lot with a wire harp tuned in C to bring things into other moods, a diatonic scale (the one that begins, 'do, re, mi') cannot be played on any key other than the key the harp is tuned in, in my case C. Retuning a 32-string harp to a different key requires changing at least four strings by a semitone even to make it to the next key up in the circle of fifths (from C to D, for example, all Fs need to be sharped). Wire harps do not come with sharping levers. Wire strings do not take being bent the way that nylon strings do; sharping blades or levers will crimp and break them.

Not all songs fit comfortably into my vocal range when played in C or A minor, and that's just a fact. When I'm singing something, I like it to be in the best possible range for my voice, and having an instrument capable of at least chording in three different keys from the get-go (even without all the extra frets) will make it easier for me to cover for whatever I like and to write different things that suit my voice. It'll also be possible for me to jam with people in the key of D if I want.

It's a different instrument. It's not a question of, "Why not just play that on the harp?" It's a question of "Why not branch out and try something new and different?" Of course there will be reasons why I choose to play one song on dulcimer or on harp, but I don't know if they need to be explicitly stated for folks, nor do I think they will be obvious if they aren't explicitly stated for folks.

Anyway. We're off to Sharps, where, don't worry, I'll be playing cracking harp, since that is what I do best.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (mountain dulcimer)
I'm trying to add some more songs with the mountain dulcimer to my repertoire. Songs that I have done in the past with this instrument include The Shirt of Lace, (assuming I can find the chords) and The Scarlet Tide, which I first heard in the film Cold Mountain.

So, I'm trying to figure out which one (or two, or three, or half-dozen) songs I should work on next with the dulcimer.

And so, here's a poll!

[Poll #967319]
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
(For those of you on my regular friends list, this is a public post, which is why some information you already know will be repeated or consolidated.)

Well, let's see. On Sunday, 16 October, while [ profile] filceolaire was at nMC rehearsal with [ profile] mokatiki and [ profile] pola_bear, otherwise often referred to here as the ESDs, I read [ profile] peteralway's journal and realised it wasn't only [ profile] cadhla who did those "Iron Whatsis" thingies-- and I figured, "Hey, it's been over a year since you've written a song, Harper!" (Usual diagnosis, happiness; my diagnosis, stress and busy-ness) "I know! Why don't you do some kind of 'Iron Songwriter' thing." I actually had to be told by the good people on #filkhaven that there was apparently a cooking show called "Iron Chef," which is where [ profile] cadhla got the name for her game, and everyone else, as we all always are, is merely dancing to her tune like a little [ profile] cadhla-operated marionette. Hey, I can talk about her this weekend: she's busy being Toastmistress at OVFF!

So I did a potentially foolish thing: )

Sharps, Tuesday night )

Folkmob, Wednesday Night )

The rest of the week in folk music? You mean there's more? )

And that's the week in Folk Music. :) And now it's time for me to retire to my nightly happy ending.


kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)

April 2011

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