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Articles & the Press

my back catalogue

part 2 ~ cassette albums ctnd …

Autumn Dance (c. 1990) was perhaps the best of my personal home recordings as it featured the breadth of my music to date, including original, nature-themed instrumentals, arrangements of traditional folk songs and my unique electro-acoustic guitar work – unbeknownst to me at the time, it became a template for my professional Autumn Dance CD album, released much later in 2003 – again totally home-spun, the recording, artwork and design were all done by myself

part 1 ~ cassette albums

Songs & Tunes vol I … to … Songs & Tunes vol VII (c. 1984 – c. 1989) 

In hindsight, I’m not really sure why I made these simple but pleasing home recordings (all seven volumes of them), as only a few copies were made and they were not released to the public – they did however serve a number of useful purposes – they created a record of my music, before I started using notation, and they prepared me well for the professional recordings I was to make later on – totally home-spun, the recording, photography and (analogue) graphic design were all done by myself

What Is A Dulcimer ?

“What is a dulcimer ?” is perhaps the question I’m most often asked – this blog aims to answer that question and to give a little background to this charming instrument, as well as my own approach to it

the dulcimers that I play are members of the zither family, not to be confused with the hammered dulcimer, which is a trapezoid-shaped percussion instrument

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dulcimer strings

advice on strings for mountain dulcimers

background

I am often asked which string gauges I use on my dulcimers – this blog aims to answer that question – but I first need to explain some of the peripheral issues for my answer to make complete sense …

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the difference between rhythm and timing

the difference between rhythm and timing in music

In music, timing and rhythm are two completely different things.  This issue has cropped up a few times on my workshops, so I created this blog post to help to explain the difference between two.  Clarity for me came when I considered the difference between a timing change and a rhythm change within the same piece of music.  So, as well as defining the terms, I have included in this blog examples from my dulcimer repertoire of both type of changes.

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Making Music

practical tips for aspiring musicians 

these helpful hints are presented here as they were published in the British monthly magazines MK Pulse and NN Pulse from March 2021 

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Dulcimer Diaries

amusing anecdotes from my music work ~ these stories are presented here as they were published in the British magazines MK Pulse and NN Pulse between March 2020 and February 2021 – they are all true 

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amplification & effects for dulcimers ~ part 2

this article was published in the UK’s Nonsuch Dulcimer Club newsletter   

amplification and effects for mountain dulcimer ~ part 2 ~ electric dulcimers

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.

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performance skills

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.     

performance skills ~ notes for performers

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.

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what makes a good dulcimer ?

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

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