There is a real hunger to learn the tunes that are commonly played in the hammered dulcimer world. So my friend Chuck Boody from Minneapolis and I have a project to make it easier to learn them. I have been shooting short videos of individual tunes played twice through at a moderate tempo and with clear visibility so people can easily see and hear what I am doing to learn. If there are any difficult sections of the tune I explain them. The videos are on our Youtube channel.
Chuck is writing out the written music just the way I play the tune and putting each in a Dropbox so you can just go there and print whichever tune you want.
The tunes are commonly known in the hammered dulcimer community and the Old Time and Celtic jamming world in general. When the project is finished, there will be around 100 tunes each with its own video and sheet music. Most of these tunes are available elsewhere and on Youtube, but usually the intent is performance, not teaching, so the tempo is fast, and you probably can’t see what they are doing. You can also loop the videos to see them over and over or to play along with them. The tunes are all public domain.
While you are watching our videos, please subscribe to our channel which is Songbirdhd. If you subscribe, Youtube will let you know when we upload a new video.
About Folk Tunes
The thing to know about folk tunes is that they belong to us and we can do whatever we want with them. We can take whatever liberties we want with them, and as long as we haven’t destroyed the basic character of the tune, what we have done is good. We make each tune a part of ourselves, and each time we play it, we may play it a little differently. But you can go somewhere and play your tune with others for the first time, and they will recognize it. As you all are playing the tune, you are listening to what each other is doing, and adjusting to that. Each time we play a tune we are recreating it. We are not transcribing something from written music that someone else has written, but creating the tune fresh from the heart. At that point the tune takes on a life of its own, and we create it a little different each time we play it.
The tunes in the videos are done the way we play them here in Eastern Iowa every Monday night at our jam. They may be done slightly differently elsewhere, there is no “right way” or “wrong way” to play them. But these versions will be pretty close to how they would be played most anywhere. If you get very far afield with your modifications to a tune, you just put a new name on it and you have created a new tune. It is part of the Folk Process and what makes folk music wonderful.
So use the video and printed music resource as a learning tool, remembering that what you see and hear is just a “serving suggestion” and you are free to play it the way you feel it. The Youtube channel has the videos in the order that I put them up, but the Dropbox is alphabetized.