Timothy's Blog

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

I am a musician playing primarily hammered dulcimer and flute, and have produced 15 instrumental albums on Virginia, Nature, History, Celtic, Christmas, and other themes; self-styled and original in approach, with a strong respect for sources and meanings.

MAY
29

EXCELSIOR! Ideas concerning the concept of “Up” in music arranging

EXCELSIOR!  Ideas concerning the concept of “Up” in music arranging

“Excelsior” is a Latin word meaning “ever upward.” Aspiration is an important part of every aspect of our lives!  We need a sense of hope for better things, more noble things, more joy and adventure and ultimate fulfillment.  Certainly our music arranging can reflect this.  I have compiled ideas here that I employ to give a sense of “excelsior” in my arranging and playing music, and I often experience a new elation as I perform, no matter what the form of the music is.  Some of this concept is already built into the source melody or chords --- perhaps that’s why I choose to use them in the first place --- but I can consciously incorporate many other techniques as well to flesh out the progressive joy or drama.  I do hope that you too can find your own elation through using some of these!

(A couple of references in the text are for players of hammered dulcimer --- but all of these thoughts can be used by any musicians.)

...
Continue reading
24932 Hits
MAY
21

A lot of helpful ideas for playing PENNYWHISTLE

A lot of helpful ideas for playing PENNYWHISTLE

At some point in their lives, many casual musicians and serious players of other instruments pick up a simple “pennywhistle” or “tin whistle” and try to play it for fun or as a special extra sound along with their other music.  Other folks won’t even attempt it, afraid that they’ll sound horrible.  Well, I think you can at least attempt it, especially since there are a lot of pretty good whistles available for less than twenty dollars in most music stores!  And they have only six holes that produce the regular do-re-mi scale!  Hopefully you can come up with a decent sound with a little exploration; I’ve compiled here a list of helpful ideas that I’ve amassed over the past thirty-some years as I’ve been playing whistle and sharing what I know with other players:

1) Where can they be found?

...
Continue reading
118759 Hits
MAY
15

Stage setup for the audience to see and hear

Stage setup for the audience to see and hear

Here's a photo of the stage setup Ouida Archinal, Ann Robinson, and I used in December of 2012 at our trio concert in the Hennage Auditorium in Colonial Williamsburg. I thought I'd share it since it's an example of one of the ways we cope with making a good presentation to the audience of our instruments and sounds.

1) The three hammered dulcimers are all carefully cantilevered for good visibility and sound projection but within pretty good hearing range of each other; our backs are turned somewhat to the audience, but we always turn toward the people when we talk or play other instruments.  This seems to make more sense than facing the audience so that they see our faces but can't see or hear the dulcimers!

...
Continue reading
24404 Hits
MAY
08

Musical modes are the same as scales!

Sometimes we hear musicians say things like "That's a modal tune" or "That's in a minor key, but one note's different," etc.  Let's talk about what that means!

In the Middle Ages and earlier, music was essentially just melody and rhythm, with no harmony, and besides that the instruments could play in only one key.  (I find the no-harmony thing hard to imagine, but that's what music historians say.)  To get variety and color in the music, then, one thing musicians did was to set up a system of "modes" using that single-key scale.  And the mode system is used in most music today as well.  This is actually very easy to understand, and it's a helpful thing to know if you play music yourself!

...
Continue reading
19283 Hits
MAY
01

Can they hear you?

Can they hear you?

In the quarter-century I've been playing the hammered dulcimer, I've had countless experiences involving the nature of the sound coming off the instrument and out into the air.  May the following observations in some way bring new insight into your own playing and listening!

First, let's look at directionality.  A hammered dulcimer is a very directional instrument: a great deal of the sound comes straight off the top, the main sonic surface, and it flows in its fullest character right into your face, where your ears are!  What about other people who can't listen up there like you are?  Well, many times I have been playing a piece with great passion and energy and percussiveness and volume, and then someone comes up and compliments me on my music's softness and gentleness and relaxation and smoothness --- hey, I was banging with all my might!  What's going on?  Well, perhaps the sound was changing character significantly as it came around the sides of the dulcimer, and as it swirled off the wall behind me.

...
Continue reading
21579 Hits

Please Note: This site uses cookies and similar technologies.

Browser settings can be adjusted to control cookies. Failure to make adjustments constitutes your agreement to their usage. Learn more

I understand

Information about Cookies

A cookie is a small piece of data (usually a text file) that a website asks your browser to store on your computer or mobile device. It enables the website to remember your actions and preferences (such as login, language, font size and other display preferences) over a period of time, so you don’t have to keep re-entering them whenever you come back to the site or browse from one page to another. Most browsers support cookies, but users can set their browsers to decline them and can delete them whenever they like. Cookies can be used to collect and store user data while connected to provide you with requested services. More information about cookies can be found at http://www.aboutcookies.org.

In addition to cookies that remember your preferences mentioned above, cookies are used for the purpose of purchasing items off this website, and for login and user profile details should you provide them by creating an account or signing up for the blog posts or newsletter.

Third party cookies are also used on this site. Specifically, Google Analytics is used on this site -- a popular web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. Google Analytics uses cookies to help us analyze how users use this site. It counts the number of visitors and tells us things about their behavior overall – such as the typical length of stay on the site or the average number of pages a user views.

The information generated by the cookie about your use of our website (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States. Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating your use of our website, compiling reports on website activity and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage.

Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google's behalf. Google undertakes not to associate your IP address with any other data held by Google.

If you have Adobe Flash installed on your computer (most computers do) and utilize audio or video players, Google Analytics will try to store some additional data on your computer. This data is known as a Local Shared Object or Flash cookie. This helps us to analyze the popularity of our media files.

Finally, this website makes use of Google Maps. Google Maps is used to provide locations for Timothy Seaman's performances. In clicking on a performance location, you can allow or deny Google Maps knowledge of your location for purposes of getting directions from your location to the event site.

You can control and/or delete cookies as you wish – for details, see aboutcookies.org. You can delete all cookies that are already on your computer and you can set most browsers to prevent them from being placed. If you do this, however, you may have to manually adjust some preferences every time you visit a site and some services and functionalities may not work.

Your failure to control and/or delete cookies for this site constitutes your acceptance of cookies as outlined above.