Timothy's Blog

Timothy's blog on dulcimers, music, nature and life!
MAY
19

Acoustic environment

Acoustic environment

The place in which you play your instrument is part of the sound of your instrument --- always.

I could go so far as to say that the location where you’re playing is actually part of your instrument, in the sense that the sounds coming out of your instrument are dispersed to, and return from, surfaces that are sonically connected to the instrument.

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OCT
24

Can they see you?

Can they see you?

[Photo: Virginia Sky, with Ann Robinson and Peter Budnikas.]

Guitarists face the audience, especially when they’re singing.  Of course!  Well, pianists don’t, because they need for the piano to face the audience, so they face sideways.

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69458 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!

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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.

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