Following on from part 1, my previous article on amplifying acoustic dulcimers, this article now focuses on the electric dulcimer. Electric guitar technology is now very mature so this could have been a huge topic. My aim here however, is to offer an introduction to the technology as a starting point for aspiring electric dulcimer players and to help them avoid some of the common pitfalls.
The following notes are based on the handout from my performance skills workshop. The focus of my workshops was to build confidence as well as competence, so these notes are necessarily focused on the psychological aspects. A workshop is undoubtedly a better way to learn about performance skills than an essay, nonetheless these notes might prove useful to you. The techniques herein are powerful and have been deployed over decades to thousands of students with excellent results.
A performance is different from a painting, for example, in that musicians need to interact with their audience to present their art. Successful performers manage this interaction well. Performing is a skill, so it can be learned, with the right help, by anyone. Counter-intuitively, extroverts don’t always make great performers. The ability to perform well is a skill, not a personality type.
If you go to a dulcimer festival today, you will doubtless see many variations of design to try to get the best sound from the mountain dulcimer. So which attributes contribute to the quality of tone and what makes a good dulcimer ? This article may be of interests to guitarists also.
If you are familiar with my music you will know that I’m also a guitarist and I play both guitar and dulcimer almost exclusively fingerstyle. In over four decades of playing, I have built, commissioned and/or owned 5 guitars and 7 dulcimers. This article is naturally written from my own experience but to broaden the perspective a little, I have also included views from two American dulcimer maker-players: Doug Berch, who built one of my dulcimers and Jerry Rockwell, with whom I share common interests.READ MORE
With no training in music but good woodworking skills, Dan built two dulcimers whilst at school and then played mandolin in the school folk band. Inspired by legendary British dulcimer player Roger Nicholson, whom he was to work with later, Dan learned a little early music on the dulcimer. At university he taught himself guitar and, aside from fifteen minutes coaching with the British virtuoso guitarist Martin Simpson, is still completely self-taught on his instruments to this day. His university days were certainly formative and artists like John Martyn, The Pentangle and Gryphon have undoubtedly shaped the development of Dan’s highly individual and eclectic style.READ MORE
In this article (Part 1) I will explain how to amplify mountain dulcimers and what effects work particularly well with them. Although written for the mountain dulcimer, some aspects may be of interest to hammer dulcimer players and guitarist also. In Part 2 (to be published at a later date) I will discuss electric dulcimers, and the effects and amplification suitable for those.
Over the many years that I’ve been performing I’ve owned several PA systems and manged live sound many times with other PAs too. I’ve learned that there are protocols around sound-checking which help to achieve good results. I have also developed huge respect for the skills and patience of sound engineers.
If you perform, sooner or later you’ll play through PAs and will need to do sound-checks. This short article aims to help you to make the most of the sound-check opportunity such that your act will not only sound good – but you’ll present yourself in professional manner too.
those of you who are familiar with my music will know that I play modal folk melodies and I have also composed pieces in various modes
I used to think of the modes as all being minor scales, except Ionian of course – recently however, several people have told me that the mixolydian mode is a major scale
this did not sit comfortably with me as the Mixolydian scale sounds minor to me – so I asked 3 highly qualified musicians that I regularly work with to shed some light on the matter
this blog post shows my initial question, their fascinating answers and my updated view now
I first met Dan Evans at the Nonsuch Dulcimer Club’s annual weekend, at Launde Abbey, 3 years ago when I was starting out on dulcimer. A very sociable and helpful guy, as well as a very thorough tutor, I was delighted when, last year, he came to teach at the Nonsuch Spring Fling in Allendale, Northumberland (which I now help Liz Conway to organise).