Timothy's Blog

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

Hammered dulcimer hovering

 20170628 promo2There are a lot of stances for playing the hammered dulcimer: Some folks prefer to sit down behind a very vertical instrument (easy to reach all the strings); some like to stand and reach down to a level dulcimer (great efficiency because of gravity’s help); some stand and use the typical moderately slanted setup (a compromise between the two above), reaching from a stationary position to use mostly shoulders and elbows for aiming the hammers.

I am, though, a hoverer. I prefer to stand for that reason, though it’s possible to hover while sitting. (When seated, however, my way of playing requires some strenuous action at the small of my back.) Rather than stand upright and let my hands and arms do all the work, I love to use my whole body, transferring energy from even as far as my calves and thighs to swing force into the hammers, sort of dancing the vector forces at all sorts of angles into the vibration of the strings. For my temperament, at least, this seems to create the greatest possibility of expressive range and emotional coloring.

Hovering allows for me to maintain about the same distance from the action, no matter the octave or key I’m working in. The exploding resonance is always blossoming directly into my face, and I get a personal thrill from that impact that keeps me phrasing the music on into the future with animation and dynamism.

Hovering is also good for one’s health: I never get tired from standing up or sitting still for a long time, because I bring my whole body into play at every juncture, exercising all muscles and nerves, walking in place and bouncing around. My music can never make me bored or put me to sleep!

I think, though, that I may be a bit more hunched in my posture than others --- but that’s something I need to work on anyway. Hovering probably isn’t the cause of that.

As I mentioned in my post on body language, I think it’s possible to get just as much dynamism and coloring from any general body language style --- but in my own case I have definitely experienced a greater expressive capability and a longer stamina through this approach.

Besides, this dance is more entertaining to my audiences! Try it.

Classical music V b: Handel and Bach!
Classical music VI: The Classical Period


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