My name is Brian Nusser, and have just joined "Psaltery Strings", having just received my first psaltery as a surprise Christmas gift (2013). I absolutely love the sound of the instrument, how beautiful and unique!!


      My Psaltery came with a small rectangular booklet containing about 10 songs or so, many "basic standards" for the psaltery, from what I have seen. I also have just ordered the "Psaltery Strings Song Book" and am anxiously awaiting its arrival! I have also read that you may use alot of the Hal Leonard "EZPlay for Piano" song books to play on the psaltery as well. My question is this... while I know that it appears that the vast majority of songs, adapted for the psaltery, are either sacred hymns, folk songs, children, or "Old World", (celtic, spanish, english, etc.), folk "standards", for which the instrument is quite obviously suited for. Are there any sources for more "contemporary" songs to play on the Psaltery, and WHERE CAN I find them? 


     I enjoy the genres of Blues, Folk/Americana/Alt-Country, Singer-Songwriter, Traditional Country, Bluegrass (Traditional and Progressive), Adult Alternative, and Rock and am wondering if any of the "styles" are adaptable to the psaltery? Has anyone ever shared more "contemporary" songs that they have figured out on the psaltery? (For instance, I rather quickly figured out Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind", for the most part!!)

      I am hoping to learn alot from my association with this website and look forward to participating whenever I have any answers or information that I might find pertinent or helpful to the members of the group!! Thank you for any info that any of you can provide me with as well!!


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Here are few songs that I have learned to play that can sound really nice on a bowed psaltery.
I mostly "play by ear" so I don't have a source for sheet music but I'm sure you could find it
on the internet.

"Do You Hear the People Sing?" from the broadway show Le Mis
"Cows on the hill" by Jay Ungar
"Somewhere over the rainbow"
"Sommertime" from Porgy and Bess
"Love me Tender"
"Tennessee Waltz"
"I'm in the Mood for Love"
"Cat's Theme song" from the broadway show
"Danny Boy"
"O Sole Mio"
" Carnival of Venice"
"Santa Lucia"
"Scarborough Fair"

Many of the slower songs, like these, sound best with long bow strokes. Better yet, the use of two bows allows a better blending of notes. When I switched from one bow playing to using two bows, my local critic ( my wife ) said my playing improved.

There are some really good examples of double bowing coming out of Japan. If you haven't already
seen the Youtube videos from their performances, take a look.

Hi Charlie!,

Thanks for the response and I must admit I like several of the songs that you have taught yourself to play by ear !! I will mess around and see if I can figure any of them out for myself!! Ever considered "transcribing" any of them for those who might want to learn them?

- Brian N

Brian, the BIG problem with getting transcriptions of contemporary music is copyright.  Although some sites have transcriptions of songs still in copyright and seem to get away with it, most site owners are wisely steering away from allowing copyright material to be posted on their sites.  The possible financial penalties are just not worth it.


As you mentioned, the EZ-Play books are a good source.  When I first started plating BP a couple years ago I found a site called "EZPlayMusic.com."  They sent me a pdf file listing all the song/tune titles available in EZ-Play books along with a numeric listing of the volumes.  Unfortunately, they went out of business not too long after (there is a web site at that address but I don't think it's the same firm I did business with).  However, I've continued to use the file to find songs I want and look them up at Amazon.  Many times there are used copies available at a fraction of the new price and I've had good luck with buying used copies.

The list is pretty complete through 2011.


If you read music, you might try some of the many fake books that are widely available.  Search "fake book" on Amazon, and you will have lots of different types of music to choose from.


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Dona Benkert -

Lessons at Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
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Lessons at Tamarack, Beckley, WV. Wednesday workshops also available for individual classes and to teach at festivals.
Sunday "Jam" 3:30 to 6:00. All instruments welcome, play mostly Old Time, Celtic & Gospel Music, not opposed to trying any tune called, once did a rap on Bowed Psalteries.

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