Timothy's Blog

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

We hear music differently! Some observations

We hear music differently! Some observations

As I play music, or as people listen to my recordings, I am continually startled by the vast range of comments I get.  Disregard the negative ones --- let’s even just consider the spectrum of compliments!

I’ll be pounding my hammers on the dulcimer in a dark minor key using dramatic chord changes and then I shift to a jarringly different key and an even more passionate and animated progression of what I consider to be compelling and powerful musical expressions and ideas.  Often at a time like this someone will come up and say, “This beautiful music is so soothing and relaxing, I could just fall asleep to it.”

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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.

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