Saturday, February 28, 2009

Liza Jane looks good to me

As I said in my previous post, being able to play a tune in more than one tuning or mode, and in more than one key, is a great thing to be able to do if you want to be able to play with others, especially if they are playing other instruments like fiddles, banjos, or guitars. Old-time tunes are not usually complicated and this fact, combined with the simplicity of a noter/drone style simple melody line, makes it not that hard to learn how to do... if you are willing to experiment just a bit. It's one of those things that sounds harder to do than it really is...

Remember how we saw that you can often play a tune equally well in DAA as in DAD tuning? Remember that DAD is mixolydian mode and is based around the open string (the 'zero' fret). And DAA is ionian mode, based around the third fret.

Here is a tuning chart for the mixolydian mode, key of D:
Tune your dulcimer to DAD and try to get comfortable playing the old-time favorite Liza Jane as noted in the tab below. Notice the strumming pattern changes slightly in different places- we don't want to strum the exact same way all the time, that would be tedious to listen to.
Play Liza Jane a lot and see if you can play it without needing to look at the tab anymore. Tab is just a way to figure out how a tune goes when you forget it or haven't tried it yet. When you are in a restaurant, you look at the menu to help you decide what to order, but when the food arrives it's time to put away the menu and enjoy eating!
Next post we'll switch to playing the very same Liza Jane in ionian DAA tuning. Maybe you can already figure out how to do this on your own? (Hint: remember that the melody lies three steps higher up on your fretboard in ionian mode.)

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