Timothy's Blog

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

Some simple techniques for hammered dulcimer arranging, part 1

Some simple techniques for hammered dulcimer arranging, part 1

When I start to play a new solo tune on the hammered dulcimer, I tend to look right away for approaches I can take that will make it my own: arranging so it says something I want it to say.

Usually I start simply: either choosing a slow and simple but exceptional melody, or I take a faster one and slow it down a bit to make room for adding arrangement details.  (Faster tunes can be arranged with lots of colorings and special details too, but often I do choose to work with a slower melody line that allows lots of room for additions.)

A number of years ago I compiled a list of seventeen particular arranging components we can draw on when we’re exploring a new piece, and I’m sharing them with you here in three installments.  The first six are below; I hope they bring some new, fertile thoughts to you fellow hammered dulcimists!

You can mix and match these options however you feel led, as you develop your version of a unique tune over time:

1. Bare melody -- pure and clear, perhaps as the lead while another instrument accompanies with chords.

2. Different octaves -- for example, the whole melody in the low register, then again in the high register; or ‘A’ section low then high, ‘B’ section low then high.

3. Bass drones added to melody -- playing the melody on the left bridge, reaching to the right bridge for drones, either often or seldom.  Drones can be struck simultaneously with certain melody notes, or alternating with melody notes, or as ‘grace notes.’

4. Key change -- the same pattern moved up, down, or across to a different set of marked courses to change key and get variety.

5. Hammer rolls -- multiple bounces on a note for rhythmic color (but don’t use this just as a way to play long notes -- it can sound clumsy in that case).

6. Thirds harmony -- simultaneous striking of a harmony note two scale steps away from the melody, either above or below it (whichever fits best).  Sometimes, as in German songs like ‘Silent Night,’ almost every note in a passage can be harmonized this way -- a pretty effect.  Another way of achieving this interval if it doesn’t fit just right above or below is to use sixth harmony:  to the right and down one course is the third interval moved down an octave, a sort of ‘third flipped upside down’ that has a really sweet sound.

So that’s the first installment --- plenty of options already.  Look for a blog post with the next six soon!

Worth: inherent or in a context?
Some simple techniques for hammered dulcimer arran...

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.