Most Frequently Asked Questions:
- What is that thing ?
I play the Hammered Dulcimer
(H.D.) which is a percussion stringed instrument in the zither family,
played with small sticks called
Where did it originate
The H.D. is related to instruments
from all over the world, the oldest being over 1000 years old from
Persia, Middle-east (where Iran and Iraq are now). It is related to
the Cymbalom from Eastern Europe, the Santur from India and the Y'ang-Chin
from China, to name a few.
How did you become
interested in it ?
I was first exposed to the H.D. by
my uncle when I was very young. Years later, after playing drums for
a couple of years, I tried banging on one of his instruments. I thought
it was the coolest percussion instrument I had ever seen, so he lent
me one until I was able to save enough to get my own.
How did you learn
to play it ?
am self taught. I have never had any formal training on any instrument.
What kind of music
are you playing ??
When I started, I had already
been playing the drums for 2 years, so I basically just started drumming
on it, using some of the various techniques usually reserved for traditional
percussion instruments such as: drum rolls, flams, rudiments like
paradiddles or ratamacues, odd time signatures, etc. I began to make
up rhythms and melodies as I went along and continue to do so to this
day. About 90% of what I play is total improvisation, with various
themes that I improvise around. I have never played the same exact
How long have you
been playing ?
I started playing in
1986 when I was 16 years old.
- Did you make it ?
No, this one is a special custom instrument
made for me by Sam Rizzetta in West Virginia in 1993. Many consider
him to be one of the very best builders and a pioneer in developing
- What are the pedals
for ? (I've never seen one with pedals.)
pedals operate a special damper system. When you push down on the pedal,
it lowers a wooden rail with felt on the underside which dampens the
strings, preventing them from continuing to vibrate. It is essentially
the opposite of a piano's sustain pedal. I have two of them so I can
have some strings dampened while others vibrate simultaneously. Only
a few builders in the country make instruments with dampers.
- How is it tuned / How
are the notes arranged / How many notes are there ?
The strings go over bridges. The left
(treble) bridge causes the string to change pitch in intervals of fifths.
The right (bass) bridge gives you the lower register (played only on
the left side of the bridge). The bass notes are played on the right
side of the unusual bass bridge located in the lower left corner of
the instrument. The strings are tuned by turning the pegs on the sides
with a tuning wrench. The order of the notes in chromatic ascending
order is unusual, unique to the H.D. and difficult to describe in words.
Ask me to show you! The range of the instrument is over 4 octaves with
3 1/2 of them being fully chromatic, which means it has all of the half-steps
in the western 12 tone scale (like a piano).
- Where Do You Live ?
travel all over the country and the world playing street music in different
places at different times of the year. In the past I have spent summers
in Cape Cod,
MA, winters in San Francisco and
traveling in-between with stops in Boulder CO, Portland OR, Moab UT,
the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Montreal Jazz Festival and other fun
spots across the country. In Oct. of 1995 I moved to Boulder, CO. and
have called it home ever since.
E-Mail List Information:
Please send me your address
including E-Mail if you have
one (Let me know if your address changes too!). I send out a postcard whenever
I do a new recording or a pe rformance
in your area.
My program includes an introduction to the Hammered Dulcimer, Tabla and
Didjeridu through demonstration and audience participation. I can tailor
my presentation for preschool through college age students. References are
I also play for weddings, parties and any other occasions. References also
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