I visited a lovely dulcimer jam this weekend, in Haslett, Mi. Though predominately hammer dulcimers and guitars, instruments also included fiddle, mandolin, accordian, two string basses, and me with my baritone bowed psaltery. They were very cordial, and interested in my psaltery. When my turn came to choose a song, they let me demonstrate my instrument, then for the next round I picked Simple Gifts in C. It is immediately apparent that I will need to practice scales, arpeggios, and songs in the keys of D, G, the related minors, and the "4 and 5" chords. Any one have a good reference those kind of exercises? And any tips for jamming with a group with these instruments?
It is always very nice to read your postings because your postings are always filled with enthusiasm for bowed psaltery. And I envy of you and folks in the U.S. because you have so many opportunities to jam with other people with other instruments, reading the advertisements of festivals, gatherings, and so on in this website. In Japan we have very few such opportunities.
The following is what I am doing with scales and chord accompaniment. I would be very glad if some of these things would be any help for you.
I, myself, do not practice scales very much on bowed psaltery. Rather I learned scales on bowed psaltery through playing various songs in various keys. How about playing Simple Gifts and any songs you like in the key of G, D, and other keys that you are likely to come across with in jamming?
When I do back-up on bowed psaltery using chords, what I do is that I choose two notes from notes that the chord consists of and I play them as a long tone or a 'chunk'. The reason why I have to choose two notes is because, when you do double bowing the maximum notes you can play at once is two. I try to choose the two notes that sound good when played with the melody, and when I move from one chord to the next I try to move to the notes adjacent or as close as possible to the preceding notes. This makes your chord back-up sounds smooth.
I will add notes consist of C, G, D, A, E, F, and Bb major scales and the notes that I, IV, V7, and II7 chords consist of in each keys. I don't think it's very useful to remember everything at once. It would be better to get sheet music of songs with chords and try to make chord back-up using the chord notes given below when you are practicing at home. Try different combinations of chord notes and find the ones that sounds best with the melody.
C major scale: C D E F G A B
C(I): C E G, F(IV): F A C, G7(V7): G B D F, D7(II7): D F# A C
G major scale: G A B C D E F#
G(I): G B D, C(IV): C E G, D7(V7): D F# A C, A7(II7): AC#EG
D major scale: D E F# G A B C#
D(I): D F# A, G(IV): G B D, A7(V7): A C# E G, E7(II7): E G# B D
A major scale: A B C# D E F# G#
A(I): A C# E, D(IV): D F# A, E7(V7): E G# B D, B7(II7): B D# F# A
E major scale: E F# G# A B C# D#
E(I): E G# B, A(IV): A C# E, B7(V7): B D# F# A, F#7(II7): F# A C# E
F major scale: F G A Bb C D E
F(I): F A C, Bb(IV): Bb D F, C7(V7): C E G Bb, G7(II7): G B D F
Bb major scale: Bb C D Eb F G A
Bb(I): Bb D F, Eb(IV): Eb G Bb, F7(V7): F A C Eb, C7(II7): C E G Bb
In Red Wing video http://psalterystrings.ning.com/video/red-wing-on-bowed-psaltery I had my students play chord back-up on bowed psaltery. Here are the notes that we chose for each chords.
G:(D5 and G5)
C:(C5 and E5)
A7:(C#5 and E5)
D7:(D5 and F#5)
We used the same notes for the same chord throughout the whole song. This is because I just wanted keep things simple for my students. It would be a good idea to try different combinations and find pairs that sound better with the melody.
This is so very helpful. Not only for the jam sessions I hope to attend, but because next month I am taking my instruments when I visit family. I hope we will all play music together!
oh this is very helpful! last night i got to randomly jam with a folky guitarist and a banjo player at a local coffee shop - was so much fun! but i quickly was realizing that i should have practiced some of those backup chords so as to be ready with what i was doing. i did ok, and as we all could have predicted, the novelty and beauty of the sound of my instrument (in a tiny resonant space) caused everyone to NOT notice that perhaps my backing "vocals" weren't quite perfect, heh. btw, was playing my alto David Kingslake psaltery with a 1/4 violin bow in right hand, slightly larger bow in left hand for sharps and flats, mainly.