Sunday, July 17, 2016

Dulcimer arrangements of a couple of Mixolydian tunes -- "June Apple" and "Rocky Top" -- for Thursday's Clayville-Prairieland session

David Schnauffer and Butch Baldassari playing "June Apple"

We've been playing a couple of tunes lately in the Mixolydian mode, "Over the Waterfall" and "Down the River I Go, Uncle Joe." It's like the good old major do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do mode we learned in elementary school, but with a flatted seventh -- "ti" in the do-re-mi scale -- that gives a lot of those old southern Appalachian ballads and fiddle tunes their distinctive high lonesome sound.

So this week I'd like to highlight a couple of other Mixolydian tunes:

  • June Apple. Dulcimer tab at by Ron Zuckerman or at by Barbara Feick. I's also in Steve Seifert's "Join the Jam." If you read music, you'll notice Zuckerman's looks like it's in G, and Feick's looks like it's in D (but with the C-sharp of a D scale flatted down to C-Natural). Relax -- it's just two ways of writing the same thing, the flatted seventh that gives the tune its high lonesome sound. If you don't read music, don't worry about it. Just play the C chords.

  • Rocky Top. Available at on the Bellingham (Wash.) Dulcimer Club website. (Scroll down directory to "Rocky Top" to open PDF document.) It's more of a bluegrass tune, an Osborne Brothers hit from 1967, but "paper-trained" music readers will notice that C-natural in the key of D. That's the flatted seventh that makes it Mixolydian. And if you don't read music, just play the C chord that gives the song its wild mountain music flavor.

Our meeting is from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Peace Lutheran Church, 2800 West Jefferson.

Some video clips on YouTube.

  • Doc Watson and David Holt playing"June Apple" -- filmed in 1988 at his Merle Fest gathering, named for his late son Merle Watson:

  • Mountain dulcimers playing "Rocky Top" -- Radella Ashton and Bing Futch at their dulcimer festival, JAM'N'QUE:

    Osborne Brothers performing "Rocky Top" on TV in 1967:

No comments: