Mountain Dulcimer

Through the QuaranTUNE Dulcimer Festival, my wife and I learned about and purchased our first mountain dulcimer. Then our daughter won a mountain dulcimer through a write-in contest offered by Stephen Seifert. And then our son received one through Dulcimers for David while he and his sister were attending online classes for kids with Erin Mae!

So now we find ourselves arranging music for the four of us. I particularly like when a mountain dulcimer comes outside with us, and we find moments of peace in our back yard (a welcome distraction from the unfinished yard work)!

Schottische from Haverö – Traditional (Swedish)

February 14, 2024

Mountain dulcimer solo (D-A-D tuning)

Here's an arrangement of "Schottische from Haverö" that my daughter picked to learn for her school's talent show. We first heard this Swedish tune played on the recorder, and then on the nyckelharpa, which led to having our own version on the mountain dulcimer!

I wanted to use the dulcimer's standard D-A-D tuning, and to start the melody with the lowest note of the instrument (D3). That plan neatly landed the tune in the original D minor, making it necessary to use our dulcimer with the extra 1+ fret (to play F3 and F4).

The tune's title must have been written to be informative, but we certainly had to look up the words. It turns out a schottische is a type of traditional round dance which came from continental Europe, and it is similar to a polka. And then Häverö is a peninsula where people have lived since prehistory, that is geographically located in the middle of present-day Sweden. It's in the historical Norrland (Northland) province called Medelpad (named after the "middle land" between two rivers), which is an area with a rich musical tradition.

But having learned all that doesn't change how we introduce the tune. We just say we're playing a very groovy Swedish barn dance! – Mountain Dulcimer – Schottische from Haverö – Traditional (Swedish).pdf

Oft, in the Stilly Night – Traditional (Irish)

August 5, 2023

Mountain dulcimer solo (D-A-D tuning) with optional lyrics

Here's a mountain dulcimer arrangement of "Oft, in the Stilly Night", also known as "The Light of Other Days". It's an Irish air with lyrics by Thomas Moore. This song was popular during the nineteenth century, and continued to be widely known and sung during the first decades of the twentieth (having been published in many books for school and family use). It was first published in 1818 by Irish composer John Andrew Stevenson as an alleged Scottish air in a volume of "Popular National Airs" from several countries, but it had no clear Scottish source.

It's a nice tune for quiet moments, and my family describes the song as "a real mood". 😅

We first came across this song while reading the Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House on the Prairie" series of children's books. The fifth book, "By the Shores of Silver Lake", contains a chapter called "Sundays in the Surveyors’ House". It's here that she describes each Sunday evening, in which the Ingalls family gathers around the fire and lamplight while Pa plays his fiddle. They all sing Sunday School songs from the hymnbook Ma brought from Plum Creek, and after they tire of singing hymns, Pa plays and sings all the old songs they love, ending with "Oft, in the Stilly Night."

After the song, the chapter ends with: "And so to bed with the new week well begun." – Mountain dulcimer – Oft, in the Stilly Night – Traditional (Irish).pdf