minstrel: instruments

Corrie Bergeron corrie at solutions.solon.com
Tue Sep 16 15:13:33 PDT 1997


I play a standard 6-string guitar in a folk style; i.e., rhythmic chordal
strumming and finger-picked arpeggios to accompany vocal solos and
singalongs.  If you already play guitar, this is what you know how to do.
Classical style playing (see discussion of lute songs copied below) is a
whole 'nother animal, and requires a great deal of practice, even if you are
an accomplished "folkie" guitar player.  

Some folks always seem to object to a guitar, but the modern steel-string
guitar is not too very different from the cittern or the guitarra [chitara]
batarda.  It's probably more authentic to lead a singalong with a
steel-string guitar (calling it a chitarra) than with a nylon-string
"classical" guitar, which is not a lute, doesn't sound like a lute (lutes
are much quieter, and the doubled strings give a different sound), and was
developed into its modern form well past period.  

I play mostly in standard tuning because that's what I know best.  I've
experimented a fair bit with other tunings.  Dropped-D is easiest - retune
the 6th (Low E) down to D, an octave below the 4th string.  Adds a
marvelously rich bottom end to open-D and Am chords; I use it for several
songs I do in D.  (BTW, I play mostly in what I call "the people's key of G"
- the chords are not fatiguing, so I can play all night, and most people can
sing in G).  

Another interesting tuning is to tune the whole guitar in fifths:  DADDAD.
Turns it into a gigantic dulcimer; and you can really pound out the Maltese
Branle and other English country dances.
DADGAD is another standard folkie tuning, sounds very nice for fingerpicking
though you have to experiment quite a bit to find the fingerings.  

I haven't yet found a really good book on alternate tunings.  Most guitar
texts tell you how to retune into the alternates, but not much on what to do
once you get there.  The key point, I think, is to keep the 5th string tuned
to A, so you can always get back into standard tuning.  

FWIW I also play lap dulcimer, recorder, and end-blown fipple flute (called
pennywhistles when made from tin or brass), though it's hard to sing at the
same time with those last two :>

Thread copied below:

>From: Scott Henderson <shenders at csc.sctboces.org>
>Date: Mon, 15 Sep 1997 09:56:14 -0400 (EDT)
>Subject: minstrel: Instruments
>
>	Greetings,
>	I have a question about instruments, please forgive if this sounds
>	a bit tenderfoot but heregoes........
>	I would like to know players preferencess about there instruments.
>	Solo, accompianing, fun, whatever you want to throw out there..
>	I am a singer that plays guitar and am looking for a more "period"
>	tool to use. Citern is what I am thinking about but wanted all
>	of the input I can find.
>	I am curious of what you Lasses and Ladies use...........
>
>	the Scot.........
>
>From: Alexandria Long <longalex at pirates.Armstrong.EDU>

>If you're wanting to stick to strings, I'm happy with almost anything but
>a mundane guitar---unless, of course, you're playing lute songs. Period 
>lute music is very common and is played by many guitar players. Makes for
>very pleasant entertainment, so don't rush out and pawn it. As for
>accompanying voices and other instruments, a more period instrument is
>preferable, unless you can play in a period-sounding style (this includes
>improvisation). That's really hard for a lot of people to do, though, I've
>only heard one person that can (my dad), and he's been playing
>proffesionally for nearly 25 years. 
>Besides, branching out to other instruments is fun...been doing it for
>years!
>
>- ---Ceara ni Neill,House Barra
>------------------------------
>
>From: "Greg Lindahl" <lindahl at pbm.com>
>
>Well, I play hammered dulcimer, psaltry, winds, reeds (shawm), and
>strings (viola da gamba). They all have their finer points; I don't
>have to worry about no steenkin' pipers disturbing me; I just fire up
>the shawm and have a couple of my friends stand near me and scream WE
>CAN'T HEAR YOU at the piper while I play a tune or two.
>
>If you're a guitar player, there's an article on the web about period
>guitar stuff, but what I recommend is retuning one string and learning
>lute tunes. If you have any classical guitar training, it's not that
>difficult.  I have a friend who's done this.
>
>From: Robin Hayes <rhayes at powerup.com.au>
>
>I, doubtless like some others would like a little expansion on this method
>of retuning. I have never got around to knowing much about the lute, and
>this method looks like a quick and easily understandable method.
>
>Robin
>
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-----
Corrie Bergeron			TRO Learning, Inc.
Senior Courseware Designer	http://www.tro.com 
corrie at tro.com			http://www.solon.com/~corrie 

IICS-MN Membership Chair	http:/www.iics-mn.org

"Aging isn't any fun, but it sure beats the alternative."


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