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“Sweet Harmonies”

“Sweet Harmonies”

honeyimageby Steve Eulberg

We play dulcimers, whose name incorporates the Latin word for “sweet” (dulce).  So when I talk about sweet harmonies, in a broad sense, they are the beautiful tunes that we play on our lovely instruments.

However, in a more specific way, there are harmonies that reflect the intervals between notes that, at least to Western ears, trained to expect Western harmonies, that are “sweet.”

The space between two notes that are played simultaneously, or one after the other, is called an interval.

In the diatonic scale (the 7-step, or “white-key” scale around which both mountain and hammered dulcimers are organized) the intervals are a series of whole and half steps between each note in the scale.

The Ionian (or major) scale can be written like this:  1-2-34-5-6-78, or whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.  (See this related post or this one)

The interval between do and mi in this mode is a Major 3rd. It is composed of 2 whole steps. It is this interval which determines that the scale or mode is considered a Major scale or mode.    In the scale of D, a Major 3rd from Do=D is F#, two whole steps away.  This can be called a 3rd harmony.  And this is in close voicing.

If we play these same notes further apart from each other, for example, playing F# and then the D above that one, the interval between the two notes is a 6th and can be called a 6th harmony.  The notes have the same name and same sweet feel, but their relationship to each other is separated and so their is some more space between the notes.

If we play that first D and then skip and octave and play the F# in the next octave, then we have a 10th interval.

When I talk about “sweet harmonies” then I’m talking about harmonies that utilize this interval.

Which songs do you use that feature these sweet harmonies?  Do you tend to prefer the closer 3rds or the more distant 6ths?

Which harmony are you “sweet on?”

 

 

 

 

 

Upcoming Lesson: Playing with a Backing Track

Upcoming Lesson: Playing with a Backing Track

Coming soon from the DulcimerCrossing editing bay:

A new lesson series with coaching and suggestions for playing along with a Blues Backing Track.

Using the example from the Backing Track Library in our Premium Membership section, Steve Eulberg demonstrates the power of the Pentatonic Minor Scale as a strategy for playing along with recorded music (without any written tablature!)

PlayingBluesCoversFrontIf you really want to dig in deep and understand what is going on inside the blues and how the mountain dulcimer is particularly well-suited for playing blues, you might be interested in Steve’s book/CD:  Playing the Blues on the Mountain Dulcimer

This book/CD is available as an interactive PDF (useable on your iPad or tablet) available as a  download or as a hard-copy in spiral binding (the traditional way!)

All of these resources are designed to help you play your blues into the corner for awhile!

 

Playing with a Backing Track

Playing with a Backing Track

Steve Eulberg demonstrates the beginning of a new Lesson Series at DulcimerCrossing.com:  Playing Mountain Dulcimer with a Blues Backing Track from the Premium Membership part of the website.

He will demonstrate the Pentatonic Minor Box and how to move it around the fretboard to find the notes that will work for playing Blues in the key of E on an instrument tuned to DAd.

(He also describes this process in his book, Playing Blues on the Mountain Dulcimer, which is available for sale on his website here:  OR, Free to his Patrons on Patreon here.)

 

Backing Tracks Library

Backing Tracks Library

Here is a view of the new Backing Tracks Library which is a resource at DulcimerCrossing.com for Premium Members.

Backing tracks are a way to play along with a “band” while not having to worry about any egos (yours or theirs!) or other people who are going to get knocked off track when you make an error.  (You’ll notice I didn’t say “if”!)

Steve uses these to get comfortable making and recovering from the errors and slips that inevitably come when playing music.  And sometimes, these “happy accidents” provide new inspiration and ideas!

Each track has an .mp3 file that you can play and hear, in addition, there is a pdf tablature with chord charts, an occasional melody line, sometimes some suggested scales to use.  They are in several keys, tunings, genres and tempo styles.

BackingTracksLibraryDC

Want to get started with this new learning tool?  Join now and choose the Premium Option and you’ll get the access you want for the support you need.

 

Habits From The Muse

Habits From The Muse
Music_lesson_Staatliche_Antikensammlungen_2421

The Music Lesson

by Steve Eulberg

This new promised resource is now available to you here!

Habits from the Muse is a short, weekly email sent to your in-box, with ideas, suggestions and tidbits we’ve collected to help support your daily practice of music.

We all know that habits come from repetition and that habits, once set, are hard to break.

Our intention is to help you set some good habits in place, habits to help you make progress toward your musical goals!

Sign up here (We don’t share your email!) and get supported today!

 
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Posted by on February 3, 2016 in lessons, subscriber news, uncategorized

 

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New Lesson Series is Coming!

New Lesson Series is Coming!

Well, with many miles under our feet (Steve criss-crossing the county and Linda climbing the heights of Colorado), it has been a while since we’ve been able to give an update, but the wait is worth it!

We had our Chattanooga instructor, Butch Ross, in the studio and his lessons on Looping are now in the editing bay.

Take at look at a sample of his demonstration here:

Keep your eyes peeled because we’ll be posting this lesson set in the near future!

As always, if you subscribe to DulcimerCrossing.com you have All Access to All the Teachers in All the Lessons All the Time!

 

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Music Theory for the Mountain Dulcimer

Our friend, Jim Miller, gives a good overview of music theory demonstrated on the mountain dulcimer. Steve will be teaching at Dulcimer U at Western Carolina University in July 2015.

Jerry Rockwell's Dulcimer Blog

In this video, Jim Miller shows you some of the basics of music theory, and how it relates to the mountain dulcimer. I can’t believe it took me so long to find it!

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Posted by on December 31, 2014 in uncategorized