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First 50 Songs Survey Results

In the Folkcraft Shop - August 19, 2022

Good morning, Everyone - hope you're having a great Friday so far!

We had a slew of responses to last week's question: "Does the growing acceptance/prevalence of contemporary music dilute the mountain dulcimer's long history with traditional music?"

It was a pretty overwhelming consensus - modern music is GOOD!
I agree. I love the traditional tunes, and can easily play any contemporary songs on other instruments that I play - guitar, piano, uke, and a slew of wind instruments. But I love the dulcimer more than the other instruments and adding repertoire to my favorite instrument is only a good thing, in my opinion. 

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Richard Ash

Your responses to the FIRST 50 SONGS songbook discussion:
"I agree that a book like this will add to the appeal of the instrument and attract more players. I've taken a couple of contemporary tunes classes at KMW, and other festivals, and they were always well-attended, and by players of all ages." (Toya K)


"Diluting the traditional aspects of the dulcimer? No, I think we should play what interests us/ makes us happy; we are musicians first, dulcimer players second ( I think so often people in the dulcimer world think of that the other way around which makes them shy of creative exploring!) I played with a sitar player for years. Both instruments had similar limitations, and we had to find a repertoire that suited both. We played folk tunes from around the world ( east AND west) , Renaissance ( a lot of Playford Dancing Master) AND we covered songs from the Velvet Underground, Rolling Stones, Brian Eno, the Beatles….whatever worked and whatever we enjoyed! I think having books with a more varied repertoire should attract more folks and give the dulcimer more street creds!!" (Gail G.)

"We definitely need to improve access to more modern, popular music. Old tunes are nice, but the younger generation has a need to play the songs that are in vogue, otherwise they will not consider playing dulcimers ….additionally, we need to get dulcimer players to read music and not be totally dependent on tab …really expands the sources of music to be played." (David O.)

"Hurray! Finally a book of songs I actually know.  How about we start a petition or letter of appeal to Hal Leonard to make more of these? I would love a book of Sam Edleston’s arrangements. I hope I live to see that happen.  I guess the very best thing to do is to buy the book.  I will forward this newsletter to my club and will buy a copy of the book today.  Thanks for the good news!" (Linda V.)

"I think the book of contemporary/pop music for mountain dulcimer is a fabulous idea.  In fact, most of us in our little group love playing contemporary music.  I am of the belief that traditional dulcimer music will never become extinct, but that the ability to play the more popular music adds an exciting dimension to the mountain dulcimer." (Glynda W.)

"I was one of the first to purchase Steve Eulberg’s new book.  In addition to being fun, contemporary repertoire is particularly important for those of us who play in health care.  Many of the people we play for relate to these songs, and these tabs are invaluable for those of us who are not strong ear players and/or just don’t have time to work up our own arrangements.  Unlike traditional tunes, these pieces are not necessarily dulcimer-intuitive and it is great to have help from people like Steve (and Larry Conger, and others)!" (Nancy D.)

"I think it’s a bit of both.  Contemporary music may seem like it’s diluting traditional music, but it could do the opposite.  People that would otherwise never be exposed to traditional music will hear possibly for the first time and appreciate as well as expanding the field of dulcimer players.  It could reinvigorate the playing of many traditionally folk instruments.  When I tell people I’m learning to play several of these instruments, they say “what’s that?” I’ve always appreciated the bluegrass and folk styles but don’t know any of the songs.  I wasn’t raised with those genres.  Now hopefully as I learn I can enjoy the Instruments and the different genres. It may seem like it’s diluting the traditional music but I think it can actually expand its exposure and appreciation. (Sharon C.)