Timothy's Blog

Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!
SEP
12

Four distinct ways a melody can move


Recently I’ve come to the realization that the typical melody has four simple traits that we can easily look at and figure out --- whether we’re learning a new tune or coming up with our own new composition.

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174 Hits
JUL
25

Arrangement ideas from favorite sources

Arrangement ideas from favorite sources

There are certain musical pieces that we personally love, and that our whole culture seems to love.  Sometimes I like to consider what it is that is so lovable, then make my own arrangements with ideas from what I find.

Here’s a really clear one as an example!  Today I was talking with a student about how to arrange the old Shaker tune ‘Simple Gifts,’ and I mentioned how Aaron Copland had made a theme and variations from it in section seven of his very popular orchestral Appalachian Spring Suite.  (Many folks from my generation and older remember one part of it as the theme music for the weekly TV news show The Twentieth Century with Walter Cronkite.)

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472 Hits
MAY
26

Playing an instrument or playing music?

When I perform, people often ask me how long I’ve been playing the hammered dulcimer.  I think they mean this question to compliment my apparent years of study, probably many, you know, to learn from teachers how to develop the appropriate virtuosity on the instrument.

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662 Hits
MAY
15

The power of progress through a repeating pattern

The power of progress through a repeating pattern

Perhaps you like Pachelbel’s Canon in D?  It became popular in 1969 when the Paillard Ensemble released their arrangement of it in Europe, then it was played on an American radio station, and it’s been a wildly popular Classical piece ever since.  Why?

Well, part of its appeal, I’m sure, is its journey through a repeating pattern of chords.  There’s something about a cycle like that gets to our souls in a special way, especially if there is a compelling development going on in the melody parts, and they keep overlapping in new ways in pieces like that canon.

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506 Hits
JUL
29

Practicing then taking a joy break

Practice makes perfect!  Well, at least, practicing something over and over for a long time will make it possible for you to play it better.  Of course!  And the more familiar you are with a piece from much practicing, the more likely you will have a marvelous command of its structure and expressive details when the time comes to perform or record.

But sometimes you find yourself banging against a wall.  If you’re playing hammered dulcimer (or any instrument) for enjoyment, learning a tune or arrangement can sometimes become a terrific burden, and you may be tempted to forget the whole music thing and just go play a video game or watch a reality TV show or something….

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1399 Hits
JUL
09

Musical development!

When I was an infant, quite some time ago, I started listening to Classical music!  It was because my mom would sing it and play it on the piano in the living room, and because she would put on recordings of Classical music and rave about the greatness of the compositions and performances.

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907 Hits
JUN
08

Using body language for expression

Using body language for expression

Musical phrasing and interpretation are affected by the way the instrumentalist moves.  It often marks the difference between cold, dead music-making and compelling, electrifying results.

A lot of dynamic effect can be achieved with a very efficient and slight movement, as when a hammered dulcimer player uses mostly his fingers to flip the hammers in just the right way, with shoulders and elbows moving the hammers to the note locations.

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970 Hits

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