HD Beginners Book

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HD Beginners Book

Postby Sarah Morgan » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:28 pm

This summer I have decided to attempt at learning hammered
dulcimer. (I can't believe I ever would... :shock: :D ) I already play other instruments including that MD. So I already have some music understanding.

Do you have any suggestions for a good beginners curriculum? (Books,
DVDs, CD lessons, etc)

What I Need
1) A "big picture" overview before you get into specifics of technique.

2) I have never been fluent at reading music. I mean, I can read music, but sight reading with speed? Still working on that! :D So I would need a book that would help me with that in particular.

Also, what do you think of those paper tabs that slip under the strings that say what the string is tuned to? Are they a help or a hindrance?
Last edited by Sarah Morgan on Sat Apr 17, 2010 9:01 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: HD Begginers Book

Postby jimfrombliss » Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:58 pm


I bought Mel bay's "You Can Teach Yourself Hammered Dulcimer" It is very explanatory and was a big help to me. About reading music while playing the HD, I don't know of too many people who can do it. Most HD players memorize the song. Hope this helps.

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Re: HD Begginers Book

Postby mrchips » Wed Apr 14, 2010 6:26 pm

This one http://www.amazon.com/Bays-Teach-Yourse ... 0786648503 is among the best around. The version with a CD and a DVD is the best. Its also available nearly anywhere where Hds are sold and most makers.

As you already play a MD you already know most of how to play a HD. They use almost the same idea in tuning as mds, having only the notes you need for the key on the string. There are some very minor differences depending on half frets. The major difference is you have a number of keys available without retuning or capos. One of the best Hd info sites ive ran across on the net that deals with a HD from the note and octave layouts is http://cpmusic.com/. There is only one book I know of that has this info in it but it isnt a beginners level tutorial http://www.woodnstrings.com/products/ultimatehd.html but it does have all you need to know, well worth the 30 bux. You can learn to play one with just this one book as it covers everything from basic music theory, reading music and so on. It does not have any tunes in it used to show how to play such as the other one. There is also a lot of quite useful info on my web site dealing with the note layouts and a bit on music theory based on a HD instead of a piano. Theyre also in pdf if you want some paper to read/study off line.

Personally I think those note strips are a bad idea from the start for a number of reasons. The markers are the places where a key starts and you can memorize the notes on just 10 in about 20 min. The rest of the entire note location will fall in place from there faster than you think. Theres already enough visual confusion on a Hd to start with so why add more with those note strips. :lol: :lol: :lol: Check out the info at that cpmusic web site and pay real close attention to the D key note and octave locations. Every other key is laid out exactly the same way. The notes change but the underlaying pattern dosent.

Russells book does have a simplified tutorial on sheet music in it but you would probably be better off to get one that subject alone. Anyone can learn all they need to know to read the sheet music you run across in a fake book, lead sheet or what you usally see passed around at a jam or festival in say 8 hours. Just use "reading sheet music" as the search term in a search site.

You can use a Md tab on a Hd quite easily with a couple minor changes. The courses on a HD follow almost the same pattern of notes as the frets on a MD do. The difference is there is no 6 fret note where you would expect it and you start counting from ZERO at the D marker or mentally add one to the tab numbers and count from the marker. the low 4 notes are on the right and the 4 high notes are on the left starting to the left of the marker. The 6 fret note is the C marker (the middle one on a 15/14) bass bridge.

Assuming 3 things, a 15/14 Hd and only a 6+ fret and DAd tuning on a MD. The low D string starts on the bottom marker on the Bass, the A, middle string, starts on the bottom right marker on the Treb bridge. and finally yje melody string, starts on the next marker up from the A. Get out a MD tab and go to that cpmusic web site or mine and using the note layout at either and mentally "play" a tune using the melody string.. :lol:
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Re: HD Begginers Book

Postby kwl » Wed Apr 14, 2010 7:54 pm

Sarah, I, too, will throw in a vote for Maddie MacNeil's You Can Teach Yourself Hammered Dulcimer. You can buy it with either a CD or DVD. I am not sure if you can buy it with both.
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Re: HD Begginers Book

Postby SingingChef » Wed Apr 14, 2010 10:40 pm

Third for Maddie MacNeil's book! I just started playing in July of 2009 and I worked my way thorough it and it was very helpful--I had the one with the DVD. Very helpful to SEE things being played. I can even play the "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" in the back of the book now after 9 months :D Pretty proud of myself on that count! I have never played an instrument before but can read music pretty well. I didn't start taking lessons till just a couple months ago because I wanted more of a challenge than what I could just do for myself...
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Re: HD Begginers Book

Postby BakerBear » Wed Apr 14, 2010 11:04 pm

Carrie Crompton also has a very nice book out called "The Expressive Hammered Dulcimer." I know it's written as a beginner's book, though as I did not come to it as a beginner I can't assess how total-newbie friendly it is. I know that's available on her website -- http://carriecrompton.com/books.html
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Re: HD Begginers Book

Postby Kendra Ward » Thu Apr 15, 2010 7:58 am

You can also check out my book, The Hammered Dulcimer Handbook, with CD and my DVD Hammered Dulcimer Basics. These both seem to have what you are asking about.



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Re: HD Begginers Book

Postby DrJ » Fri Apr 16, 2010 7:02 am

I also use Maddie's book and recommend it. There are two others I have use and think might be worth a look. One is Beginning Hammered Dulcimer by Linda Lowe Thompson and the other is Mel Bay's First Lessons - Hammered Dulcimer.
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Re: HD Begginers Book

Postby halfpint » Fri Apr 16, 2010 9:52 am

Do you know your learning style? At first, I didn't do well with books as it is hard to keep looking up and down, and to try to figure out where the notes are on the dulcimer, and I was good at sight reading. I did better with Kendra's videos, although I had them on VHS and I'm not sure if she's put them on DVD yet.

After you figure out where most of the notes are,and develop some muscle memory of the notes, it becomes a little easier to sight read and with practice you can get a better and quicker at playing with music.

If you think videos might work better for you, check out some of the videos that Dizzi Dulcimer has posted on you-tube, she has a set of lessons on this site: http://www.dizzi.co.uk/dizzivideo.php

I'm not a fan of the paper labels either. Another thing I would recommend is to learn to watch the bridge, not the strings. In various lighting situations, watching the strings can become very difficult, so if you're used to watching the bridge lighting changes won't be as much of a problem.

I see you're in East Tennessee, you might want to go to the Chattanooga Festival the last weekend of October to take classes in HD.
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Re: HD Begginers Book

Postby mrchips » Fri Apr 16, 2010 9:34 pm

Dont even think about "style" issues for now. That will come along in due time. The first thing you need to do is learn the instrument. Part of that is learning where the notes are, the neat transposing on the fly tricks, and even the feel of it. Sounds strange for an incremental you don't normally touch while playing but I don't know of a word that fits better. No 2 will ever feel the same.

Style is a thing all of its own based on a number of things, partly rhythm, partly tonal shifts and even partly how and where you whack a string. That can only come from really knowing your HD which comes only from hours of playing on it.
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Re: HD Begginers Book

Postby hcknbrgr » Sat Apr 17, 2010 8:58 am

I learned from Maddie McNeills you can teach yourself Hammered dulcimer as well and recommend it. However, I recently picked up Linda Lowe Thompson's Beginning Hammered Dulcimer book, which came with a cd, and i think that that book might be a little better to begin with, You can teach yourself Hammered Dulcimer is very comprehensive, going through chording and arrangements with chords, Linda's book gives you a whole lot more straight melody songs to learn, which I think might be more beneficial as a beginner before stretching into the chord arrangements. Hey, buy both and then take the dirrection YOU want to learn!
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Re: HD Beginners Book

Postby Camperted » Sat Apr 17, 2010 1:39 pm

Hi All,

I am a beginner and I have used many of the books that have been mentioned previously.

I think that Kendra Ward-Bence's book is excellent. I wish there was a second book.

Another that has not been mentioned is Rick Thum's "Tune of the Month." Once you learn the fundamentals this is a great way to learn a tune.

Another is "First Lessons - Hammered Dulcimer" by Linda Thomas and published by Mel Bay. It has very simple songs and a CD that gives instruction. It only costs about $8. This is for absolute beginners.

Good Luck!

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