Timothy's Blog

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

A special focal point in some musical pieces

A special focal point in some musical pieces

Have you noticed that sometimes there’s a particular moment that really grabs you in a piece of music?  It may be a chord change or a certain leap in a melody or a swell in the volume at just the right time; and its effect may be more than just something that gets your attention --- it may be truly a view into the sublime!

I actually crave those times and keep on the lookout for them, because that special moment that lifts my spirits or stirs my soul or grants a glimpse of the transcendent… is unutterably significant!

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Some simple techniques for hammered dulcimer arranging, part 3

Some simple techniques for hammered dulcimer arranging, part 3

The third and final installment of our series of ideas for hammered dulcimer arrangement of simple tunes brings up yet more significant challenges, but all of these are extremely useful if you want to make your music really sing! 

Numbers 16 and 17 take a bit more focus and practice, but when you develop them you’ll find that in the resulting effect ‘the whole is greater than the sum of the parts!’

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'The First Noel' in a new hammered dulcimer arrangement

When I recorded this celebrated English traditional carol for the Christmas album Hope from on High in 2008, I took advantage of the studio setting to develop it into a creatively enhanced ensemble work, changing keys and lead instruments and rhythms and moods --- on hammered dulcimer, guitar, bowed psaltery, bamboo flute, silver flute, etc. --- to have it develop in the form of the action story of which the words tell.

In retrospect, why did I feel the need to do it that way?  Well, perhaps I intuitively was concerned that the beautiful, fetching folk melody, though quite lyrical, has a lot of repetitious features, and as an instrumental it would benefit from special treatment, rather than merely being played as a tune.

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Creative arranging

Creative arranging

Sometimes, especially in folk music and pop music, arrangers use a simple formula (‘KISS: Keep it simple, stupid,’ as they say) to present a melody or a verse-chorus pattern, and they make sure that they don’t demand anything significant of the listener.

Well, as a lifelong aficionado of Classical music, which in its best form does demand that the melody and chord structure develop in a complex way over the course of the piece, I crave creativity and depth in arrangements.  (May I say here that much folk and pop music does indeed involve creative arrangement, but some of their arrangements certainly don’t!)

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