by Steve Eulberg
On the road as part of my country-crossing-summer-tour, I got to visit with David Massengill at the Gebhard Woods Festival in Morris, Illinois in June.
David has a long history with the mountain dulcimer and developed some playing styles that pre-date the 6-1/2 fret, DAd world that has been more common since the instrument was brought in from the “free-range.” Here he demonstrates the beautiful of what he calls “Reverse Ionian Tuning“. 5 – 1 – 5 are the relationships between the strings, the tonic being in the middle string, rather than on either outside string. Do starts at the 3rd fret of the melody string and the major (Ionian) scale continues to the 10th fret (omitting the 6-1/2 fret)
Playing this way is very reminiscent of the 1 – 5 – 5 or DAA tuning which is common today, but David is playing F – C – F and creating some beautiful, fluid melodies and harmonies, while standing a playing with the dulcimer flat, or parallel to the ground.