Timothy's Blog

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

Midwinter Etude for hammered dulcimer

Visually on the hammered dulcimer the "shape" of a three-note chord (a triad) is often a triangle, with the "vertices" the places where the hammers strike.

Around 1990, as a relatively new player, I wanted to practice playing triangles in a repeating right-left-right-left pattern, so one evening I started near the top of the dulcimer and played the E minor chord then moved down to the next position (G major) and continued downward in this way till an even number of measures seemed to call for a change. I inserted a few other figures as part of this for interest (moving up a note for a moment, etc.), but the pattern was basically straightforward as a triangle study.

This then became my first official composition, an etude (French for "study") for hammered dulcimer!

The remaining section of the melody is a series of "flams," four-note chord rolls (L-R-L-R zigzag), single notes, and a quick downward leapfrogging pair of grace notes for the ending. So this etude gives the player some practice in at least a few things: Besides playing the repeating triangular shapes, there is lots of room for emphasizing certain notes and crafting the rubato (speed fluctuations) and volume swells for expression; also chord rolls and flams need to be done in a way that enhances the "storytelling" nature of the flow.

Originally I played the same notes a second time an octave lower, thus using the right side of the treble bridge combined with the bass bridge for an adaptation of the pattern in a different area, and then actually playing the final phrase in the upper register just as in the first time; but in this performance I chose instead to move down to begin the pattern with the B minor chord and finish at what would be the lowest strings of a 16/15 model of dulcimer. (My dulcimer here is a Dusty Strings D600, a 19/18.)

For basic sheet music of the notes, here's a .pdf: a-Midwinter-Etude_20130901-033158_1.pdf

Hammered dulcimers in many lands
Playing in an ensemble

Related Posts


No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

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.