"Old Time Hammered Dulcimer Favorites" was a project recorded for my friends at Revere Records. At the time they were selling music primarily the gift store market. With that in mind, I pictured folks driving as they listened to the music. I asked excellent musicians I know from the Portland area to back me up on the project. Several of them have websites of their own, as you can see.
Ron Andrico: banjo, mandolin
Dan Compton: guitar, mandolin, mandicello (http://www.glencottagemusic.com/)
Phil and Gayle Neuman: recorders (http://www.emgo.org/)
Fred Nussbaum: cello
Eddie (Skip) Parente: violin (http://www.eddieparente.com/)
Dan Presley: bass (http://www.talljazz.com/)
We recorded the album at Marv Ross's Trout Dog Studio - (http://www.rossproductions.com/) over four days in May of '93. The basic tracks (dulcimer with guitar & bass) were recorded live with as many other instruments as we could fit in the large room at the studio. Parts were overdubbed as needed on some of the bigger arrangements.
The album was mixed a few weeks later Lewis Ross's Bullseye Sound and the record was released in early '94.
About the sound of the album, a few words... With the "record" being sold primarily at gift shops as a hammer dulcimer feature, I wanted to make sure they heard the dulcimer plenty. If you will, imagine a couple leaving the gift shop in their RV. As they drive down the road and adjust the volume on the CD player, as the other instruments fade away they still hear the faint thwack of the dulcimer hammers through the roar of road noise. My concept was to picture a stage with dulcimer on the apron and the band in a semicircle upstage. I explained this to my pal Dan, who was kind enough to play the rhythm guitar as well as some mandolin, mandocello and button box parts, and also helped write the charts. I said, "I mixed the band up stage a bit." Dan said, "Yeah, right, behind a thick curtain!" So listen while you drive, or do the dishes, or dance, and if you like the dulcimer, you'll be happy.
Because of my dulcimer-heavy mix the album has been useful as a tool for beginning dulcimer players. If you'd like the chord charts for the record, zap me an email & I'll send you the file.
Errata: When getting the verbiage together for the CD printing, I forgot to credit the marvelous Fred Nussbaum for his cello playing. This is a major error, which I've never lived down. Since it wasn't caught until the folks at Revere had printed a mountain of paper, I give Fred large credit on the CD proper. Too little, too late, but Fred has been kind enough to speak to me in the meantime.
Other recordings and performances:
Check out Folk City, my collaboration with Kevin Shay Johnson: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/folkcity
Keep tabs on me at http://www.oregonshadowtheatre.com/mick.html
I perform with the Trail Band, and also play on our 8 albums, which you can read about at the band website, http://trailband.com/
My dulcimer can be heard on recordings by some of my friends. Check out Dan Compton (http://www.glencottagemusic.com/) as well as Kate Power and Steve Einhorn http://qualityfolk.com/
The Hammer Dulcimer
The hammer dulcimer is a tuned percussion instrument thought to be an ancestor to the piano. The basic concept is a trapezoidal pattern of strings tuned on two sides of a bridge. At the wider end of the trapezoid one finds the lower pitches, and vice-versa. In most traditions the strings are struck with mallets of some sort, though in some cultures they are plucked as well. Variants of the dulcimer have been played across the northern hemisphere for centuries. Historians haven't pinned it down, but the origins seem to lie from ancient Persia to Eastern Europe. The Persian name "santoor" is used in India as well, whereas in Greece it is known as "santouri". In China the instrument is called "yang chin" which I read means "foreign zither." In eastern Europe the name ranges from "cymablom" to "tzimbaly", and it is played from Hungary to the Ukraine. In Germany it is called "hackbrett", which means "chopping block." In Mexico it is called "salterio." In the English speaking world it is called "hammered dulcimer." I prefer "hammer dulcimer", 'cuz that's the way I say it.
The dulcimer I play feature 68 strings, is equipped with dampers, and has a 3 octave range. Strings are struck with small wooden mallets, or "hammers." My dulcimer was built by Sam Rizzetta & Nick Blanton in '87. It's tuned in 5ths across the middle bridge, has a bass bridge to the right side and a small three-course bridge off to the lower left. I've tuned the lowest note an octave below middle C.
I have another instrument I built with Randy Hudson in '85. This instrument was built with moveable bracing, and is currently tuned in Persian and Arabic scales. It still has an American tone, however. The Persian santoor has different dimensions and uses different metals for the strings. I've been fortunate to have a chance to study santoor music with maestro Hossein Salehi here in Portland. You can keep up with Hossein Salehi's activities here: http://artmax.org/