The hammered dulcimer has a wondrous, magical sound... a full, rich tone with glorious sustain. Once it gets into your soul, nothing else quite comes close. The simplest melody can take on an intimacy and a fullness far beyond the actual notes being played.
I first heard the wondrous sound of the hammered dulcimer at a county fair in Eastern Tennessee at the age of thirteen. I remember thinking how fascinating the instrument was, yet how incredibly difficult it must be to play. The performer was John McCutcheon, one of the finest hammered dulcimer players in the country. I didn't give it another thought for many, many years. In the meantime, I learned to play the 5-string banjo and then the guitar. I had a great time with those instruments for about twenty years, and for several years was heavily into contemporary fingerstyle guitar. I found myself unsuccessfully trying to reproduce the brilliant sustained tones that were in vogue on fingerstyle guitar albums by artists such as Alex DeGrassi and Ed Gerhard. Then one day I was listening to a cassette tape of amateur acoustic guitar and stumbled upon a duet played by acoustic guitar and hammered dulcimer. I recalled my earlier exposure to the instrument many years before, and I realized that the hammered dulcimer offered the brilliant sustained tones -- the "wall of sound" effect -- that I had unsuccessfully been striving for on guitar all along. That was over ten years ago, and I've been hooked ever since!
This album is an EP-length exploration of Winter's themes using the soothing sounds of the hammered dulcimer. Total playing time is 21:54.
"Carol of the Bells" (arr. Evan Carawan) - I first heard Evan Carawan play this tune on a segment of a TV series titled "The Heartland Series," produced in Knoxville, TN, by Bill Landry. I learned most of the tune from that segment, and then Evan showed me a bunch of other parts.
"Come Life, Shaker Life" (arr. Malcolm Dalglish) - I learned this tune from Malcolm Dalglish's playing on the Windham Hill compilation "Winter's Solstice Vol. 2." Malcom's version is absolutely stunning.
"Sergeant Early's Dream" (arr. Maggie Sansone) - A beautiful arrangement of a traditional Irish tune, slowed way down. From Maggie Sansone's incredible album titled "Dance Upon the Shore." http://www.maggiesmusic.com
The Night Trilogy is originally from pianist George Winston's "December" album. I had the idea to recreate this beautiful trilogy on hammered dulcimer:
Night Part 1: "Snow" (George Winston) - A beautiful, hypnotic tune. I first recorded the arpeggio part and then overdubbed the bass notes and the melody line.
Night Part 2: "Midnight" (George Winston) - Minimalist and dreamy.
Night Part 3: "St. Basil's Hymn" (arr. Malcolm Dalglish) - George Winston titled this tune "Minstrels" on his "December" album. The tune is actually a Greek children's chorus titled "St. Basil's Hymn." George's version was based on Malcolm Dalglish's hammered dulcimer arrangement on an album titled "Jogging the Memory" (Windham Hill).
"Prelude on Kingsfold" - I first heard this melody on Phil Keaggy's incredible acoustic guitar album titled "Beyond Nature." I subsequently found out that this tune is based on an ancient melody known as "Kingsfold." This is my simple folk arrangement of that melody.
"Simple Gifts" (arr. Carrie Crompton) - One of my favorite pieces to play. My version is largely based on Carrie Crompton's arrangement in her hammered dulcimer book titled "Hammer Dulcimer Solos, Vol. 2." http://www.carriecrompton.com
"Silent Night" - I wanted my arrangement of "Silent Night" to be very mellow and soothing. Somehow I think I found the right notes to give it the flavor I was after. Peace.
All performances are solo hammered dulcimer, except "Snow" which has 3 hammered dulcimer parts.
All songs and arrangements used with permission.