These five modules are intended to provide a foundation for the more than 40 videos in the full series of video lessons. In these modules, I cover a wide variety of playing techniques, the complete organization of the instrument, basic and more advanced chord theory, many root and inversion arpeggio patterns, the derivation of three note chords and the relationship to harmonizing a scale, various exercises, backup skills, and more.
Hammered Dulcimer Fundamentals and Exercises (6 videos-26 minutes): Don’t be fooled by this ordinary title! There is a ton here. My experience is that even most intermediate and advanced players do not have a full grasp of the organization of the instrument. The videos provide a full explanation of the 12-page document “Map of the Dulcimer.” These videos along with “The Map” should provide years of exploration and discovery in order to achieve a full appreciation and understanding of the instrument. For ALL levels
Mapping the dulcimer: identifying keys; location of accidentals; the circle of fifths organization of the instrument; identifying intervals (location of half and whole steps)
Hammering technique and issues: keeping hands low, hammer heads up, avoiding indiscriminate bouncing, where to strike (tone) and much more
Three ways of playing scales and the importance of “duplicated” notes; octave and opposite direction scales to build equality of hands; “thirds” scales
Three note chord patterns: “right” and “left” patterns; deriving three note chords from “shed,” “parallelogram” and “Nevada” shapes; brief discussion on the importance of learning to “harmonize a scale”
Five root position arpeggio shapes:combining the five root position arpeggios to play the entire range of arpeggios; major, minor and diminished chords
“Random” movement through arpeggios: hand independence using arpeggios; learning to see the entire range of arpeggios and chords through random movement
The Pachelbel Exercise (3 videos-42 minutes): thinking chord progressions with inversions and root arpeggio patterns Most musicians come to realize that thinking chords is the pathway to mastering their instruments especially to develop arranging and improvisation skills. This exercise just about guarantees that you will think chords by the time you nail this conceptually simple (but challenging) exercise! I use the eight chords in The Canon to practice three forms of the chord progression. These patterns are critical to playing backup. And from these patterns, we explore the derivation of six three note chord patterns. I also describe how to harmonize a scale and why this is so vitally important to arranging: this is the concept that each note in a scale may be harmonized in predictable ways (given certain rules of harmony.)
Arpeggio & chord patterns / Inversions
Deriving three note chords & harmonizing a scale
Pachelbel exercise – root and inversion arpeggios
Ken's Fireside Theory Chat (8 videos-68 minutes): Of course, it is possible to play music without understanding all that much about the big picture. However, understanding keys, modes, how tunes are structured, how to form simple and more complex chords, and how chords move (chord progressions) all greatly increase one’s ability to create arrangements and learn, process, and retain music. This discussion provides the minimum that you need to know. And for those more ambitious folks, I hope this discussion provides nearly everything you will ever want to know!
Introduction: the importance of theory; construction and definition of major, minor and diminished chords; intervals; concept of the relative minor
Harmonizing a scale using triads; formation of seventh chords, especially the dominant 7th chord formed off the fifth note of the scale; function of the dominant 7th chord; why the diminished chord is rare
Additional important 7th chords: major and minor 7 chords (the “box” pattern); function of 7ths chords including chord “movement” and “color”; where the major, minor and dominant 7th chords are “found” in a key; expansion of the concept of harmony; strengthening chord movement using 7th chords
Strengthening chord movement using the dreaded secondary dominants - bringing in notes from “outside” the key
The circle of fifths: relationship to chord movement (“BEAD Go Catch Fish”!); layout of the hammered dulcimer in the circle of fifths
Modes! 13 minutes of modes! The importance of learning the three big modes: mixolydian, dorian and aeolian; two approaches to forming modes; chords typically found in the various modes
Secondary Dominants - 23 minutes using charts, discussion and some examples, a thorough explanation of the what, why and where they live of secondary dominants beginning with clarification of the difference between a major 7th and a dominant 7th chord, covering the function of the dominant 7th chord, how chords move in the circle of fifths; and ending with "The Secondary Dominant Shortcut." You will get this very important piece of theory!
The Chromatic Trick - finding chromatics can be a little tricky and inconvenient on the hammered dulcimer; this short video will help point the way with a really easy to remember "trick!"
Backup for 4/4 Tunes (7 videos-31 minutes): Over the years, I have learned so much more from developing accompaniment parts and playing backup than from developing leads. In fact, backup is my favorite place to be, working in the chord progressions and in rhythm. In these videos, I offer many approaches to backing up tunes in 4/4 with a variety of vamps based on counting to four and to eight. I also include the “universal backup” which works in an amazing number of tunes!
The “1 – 3, 2 – 3” pattern
The “1 2 4” pattern
The “universal backup”
The “1 4 7” vamp and rhythmic grooves
Hammered Dulcimer Techniques(23 videos-75 minutes): In this series of videos, I present in detail many of the wide variety of the techniques that I use to embellish tunes. All of these ideas are also described in The Sandbridge Dance Tune Collection. Working through these techniques will help you master the arrangements in the books and in the many videos presented in this series. There is a lot here!
Using the full range of the instrument
Two note chords
Three note chords
Hammered and bounced triplets
Arpeggio fills and color notes
Drones / pivot notes
Melody replacement (using harmony)
Swing & accent Shifts
Borrowing from backup
Combining ideas and arranging
Moveable accent pattern
3 against 4
47 videos in all!(Note: Recommended snack: Chocolate Chip Cookies) ***Videos can be streamed, downloaded, or viewed in the Gumroad App on mobile devices.
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