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Dulcimer Tablature and Standard Notation

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6 Ecossaices     Play Midi File
Actus Tragicus     Play Midi File
Ah! Vous Dirais Je Maman     Play Midi File
Air On A G String     Play Midi File
Akka The Blacksmith     Play Midi File
Allegretto     Play Midi File
Allegretto     Play Midi File
Allegro     Play Midi File
Allegro     Play Midi File
Allegro Moderato    Play Midi File
Alman     Play Midi File
An Almaine     Play Midi File
Andante     Play Midi File
Andante     Play Midi File
Andante     Play Midi File
Andante     Play Midi File
Andantino     Play Midi File
Andantino     Play Midi File
Angeline The Baker     Play Midi File
Aira from Don Giovanni     Play Midi File
A Treble     Play Midi File
Away in a Manger
Ballad     Play Midi File
Black Mountain Rag     Play Midi File
Black Mountain Rag (Version 2)
Boatman     Play Midi File
Boatman     Play Midi File
Bourree     Play Midi File
Bourree     Play Midi File
Buffalo Gals     Play Midi File
Canon in D (Pachelbel)     Play Midi File
Carol of the Hay
Carolan's Concerto     Play Midi File
Carolan's Draught     Play Midi File
Chord Chart (DAd Major)
Chord Chard (DAd Minor)
Christmas EBook for Beginners
Christmas Eve in Ireland
Christmas is Coming
Christmas Song
Christmas Times a'Coming
Courante     Play Midi File
Dance     Play Midi File
Das Klingt So Herrlich     Play Midi File
Deck The Halls
Dennis Murphy's Polka     Play Midi File
Deutscher Tanz     Play Midi File
Die Forelle     Play Midi File
Doodle in C     Play Midi File
Dowlands Bells     Play Midi File
Dowland's Midnight     Play Midi File
Eel In The Sink     Play Midi File
Fairie's Hornpipe     Play Midi File
First Noel
Flop-Eared Mule     Play Midi File
Fuggite O Voi Belta Fallace     Play Midi File
Gavotte Number 1     Play Midi File
Gavotte Number 2     Play Midi File
Gigue     Play Midi File
Giu Fan Ritorno I Geny Amici     Play Midi File
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlement
Goddesses     Play Midi File
Go From My Window (Version 1)     Play Midi File
Go From My Window (Version 2)     Play Midi File
Harte's Ease     Play Midi File
Happy Christmas Comes Once More
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
He is Born The Divine Christ Child
Holly and the Ivy
Home Again Market Is Done     Play Midi File
I Can Not Keepe My Wyfe At Howme     Play Midi File
Irish Tune     Play Midi File
It Came Upon the Midnight Clear
Jesu Bleibet Meine Freude     Play Midi File
Joane To The Maypole     Play Midi File
Joy to the World
Jump     Play Midi File
Komm Lieber Mai Und Mache     Play Midi File
Kontratanz     Play Midi File
La Pioggia     Play Midi File
Las Je Ne Puis Plus Nullement Jurer     Play Midi File
Lavolta     Play Midi File
Marche Religieuse     Play Midi File
Mary Of The Wild Moor     Play Midi File
Menuett 00     Play Midi File
Menuett 02     Play Midi File
Menuett 05     Play Midi File
Menuett 07     Play Midi File
Menuett 08     Play Midi File
Menuett 09     Play Midi File
Minuet 01     Play Midi File
Minuetto     Play Midi File
Miss Murphy     Play Midi File
Moment Musical Number 3     Play Midi File
Monsieurs Almaine     Play Midi File
My Lady Hunsdon's Puffe     Play Midi File
My Lord Willoughby's Welcome Home     Play Midi File
O Come, All Ye Faithful
O Come O Come Emmanuel
O Tannenbaum
O Little Child of Bethlehem
Orlando Sleepeth     Play Midi File
Papageno     Play Midi File
Pavan Number 1     Play Midi File
Pavan Number 2     Play Midi File
Phrygian     Play Midi File
Pig Ankle Rag     Play Midi File
Piper's Fancy     Play Midi File
Powder Rag     Play Midi File
Robinson's May     Play Midi File
Romanze     Play Midi File
Rondo     Play Midi File
Rossina     Play Midi File
Russischer Tanz     Play Midi File
Sailor's Hornpipe     Play Midi File
Saraband     Play Midi File
Se Potesse Un Suona     Play Midi File
Silent Night (Ver 1)
Silent Night (Ver 2)
Sonata For A Musical Clock     Play Midi File
Song Before Christmas
St. James Infirmary     Play Midi File
Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy
Tartleton's Jig     Play Midi File
Tarleton's Resurrection     Play Midi File
The Cork Road Jig     Play Midi File
The Devil and the Farmer's Wife     Play Midi File
The Devil's Nag     Play Midi File
The First Noel
The Frog Galliard     Play Midi File
The Girl I Left Behind Me     Play Midi File
The Hunter's Carreare     Play Midi File
The Sheperd's Hey     Play Midi File
The Shoemaker's Wife     Play Midi File
The Sick Tune     Play Midi File
Tirolienne     Play Midi File
Valse Favorite     Play Midi File
Volte     Play Midi File
Wachet Auf Ruft Uns Die Stimme     Play Midi File
Washington Post March     Play Midi File
What Child is This
When Christmas Morn Is Dawning
When From My Love     Play Midi File
Wilson's Wide     Play Midi File

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Appalachian Dulcimer -

The Appalachian, or Mountain Dulcimer takes it's name from it's sweet (Dulce) sound!

The Appalachian dulcimer is a fretted string instrument of the zither family, typically with three or four strings, although contemporary versions of the instrument can have as many as twelve strings and six courses. The body extends the length of the fingerboard and traditionally has an hourglass, teardrop, triangular, or elliptical shape (also called the galax). As a folk instrument, wide variation exists in Appalachian dulcimers. For example, a courting dulcimer has two fretboards, which allows two players sitting across from each other to perform duets, hence the name. Jean Ritchie (The Dulcimer Book, 1974) and others have speculated that the Appalachian dulcimer is related to similar European instruments like the langeleik and scheitholt.


A traditional way to play the instrument is to lay it flat on the lap and pluck or strum the strings with one hand, while fretting with the other. The dulcimer may also be placed in a similar position on a piece of furniture such as a table or chest of drawers, to enhance the sound. There are two predominant methods of fretting. First, the strings may be depressed with the fingertips of the fretting hand. Using this technique, all the strings may be fretted allowing the player to produce chords. Second, the melody string, the string closest to the player, may be depressed with a noter, typically a short length of dowel or bamboo (see photo at left). Using this method, only the melody string is fretted and the other strings act as drone strings (the melody string may be doubled so that the melody can be better heard over the drones). In this second style of playing, the combination of the drone strings and the buzz of the noter on the melody strings produces a unique sound.

In practice, a wide variety of playing styles have long been used. Jean Ritchie's The Dulcimer Book (1974) has an old photograph of Mrs. Leah Smith of Big Laurel, Kentucky, playing the dulcimer with a bow instead of a pick, with the tail of the dulcimer held in the player's lap, and the headstock resting on a table pointing away from her. In their book In Search of the Wild dulcimer (1974), Robert Force and Al d'Osschéescribe their preferred method as "guitar style": the dulcimer hangs from a strap around the neck, and the instrument is fretted and strummed like a guitar; they also describe playing "Autoharp style" where "the dulcimer is held vertically with the headstock over the shoulder." Lynn McSpadden, in his book Four and Twenty Songs for the Mountain Dulcimer, states that some players "tilt the dulcimer up sideways on their laps and strum in a guitar style." Still other dulcimer players use a fingerstyle technique, fingering chord positions with the fretting hand and rhythmically plucking individual strings with the strumming hand, creating delicate arpeggios.

Contemporary players have also borrowed from chord theory and guitar analogues to create a variety of more complex ways to play the dulcimer. Some dulcimers are constructed with four equidistant strings to facilitate playing more complex chords, particularly for playing jazz. In another line of contemporary innovation, electric dulcimers have been used in rock music. The Appalachian dulcimer is both easy to learn to play, and capable of complexity, providing scope for a wide range of professionals and hobbyists.

Strings and tuning

The frets of the Appalachian dulcimer are typically arranged in a diatonic scale. Traditionally, the Appalachian dulcimer was usually tuned to DAA, or notes with this 1 5 5 relationship. The key note is on the bass string and the middle string is an interval of a perfect fifth above it. The melody string is tuned so that the key note is at the third fret. This facilitates playing melodies in the Ionian mode. The melody played on the top string (or string pair) only, with the unfretted drone strings providing a simple harmony, gives the instrument its distinctive traditional sound. To play in a different key, or in a different mode, a traditional player would have to retune the instrument. For example, to play a minor mode melody the instrument might be tuned to DAC. This facilitates playing the Aeolian mode, where the scale begins at the first fret.

Modern instruments usually include an additional fret a half step below the octave position, the so-called "six and a half" fret. This enables one to play in the Ionian mode when tuned to DAD, the traditional tuning for the Mixolydian mode, where the scale starts on the open fret. This arrangement is often found to be more conducive to chordal playing, as opposed to the more traditional dronal style. Among modern players, it is fair to say that the instrument is most commonly tuned to DAD. So-called "chromatic dulcimers" are sometimes made, to permit play in any key without re-tuning.

While currently the most common tuning is DAD, it is often easier for the beginning player to tune to DAA or the so-called "Reverse Ionian" tuning, (DGD). "Reverse" tunings are ones where the key note is on the middle string and the bass string is the fifth of the scale, but in the octave below the middle string. This is sometimes suggested as an easier tuning. From (DGD) one can put a capo on the first fret to play the Dorian mode, or retune the second string to (A), to play the Mixolydian mode, then from Mixolydian capo the first fret to play the Aeolian mode. DAA tuning should not be thought of as simply a "beginner" tuning, however. Many accomplished, innovative players use this tuning.


The Appalachian dulcimer is widely used in the American old-time music tradition. The instrument first appeared in the early 1800s from the Scots-Irish in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and is thus also called a mountain dulcimer. The instrument was based on similar pre-existing European instruments, particularly the German scheitholt. Soon it acquired a distinctive American flavor. The instrument became used as a parlor instrument, as its sound volume was well-suited to small home gatherings.

The Appalachian dulcimer achieved a renaissance in the 1950s urban folk music revival in the United States through the work of Jean Ritchie, a Kentucky musician who introduced the instrument to New York City audiences. In the 1960s, the American folk musician Richard Fariñ1937.1966) became the first to utilize an Appalachian dulcimer in a less traditional way, pointing out its similarity in tone to some Middle Eastern and Asian instruments. Styles performed by modern dulcimer enthusiasts run the gamut from traditional folk music through experimental forms, although most perform in more or less traditional styles. Dulcimer festivals take place regularly in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, as the Appalachian dulcimer has achieved a following in a number of countries. Virtually every culture has an instrument based on the working idea of the Appalachian dulcimer.

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