Dulci-More: Folk & Traditional Musicians

Public Domain Songbooks

Autoharp Volume (with Autoharp Melody Chord Numbers) 2002 Revision

Now Available with Information Here

Go to General Volume Songbook Page

General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) 2002 Revision

Now Available with Information on Its Own Page

Go to Octave Songbook Page

Octave Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) 2018 Revision

Now Available with Information on Its Own Page

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Online Store for Bill Schilling's Books & CDs

Updated March 30, 2018

The Dulci-More Public Domain Songbooks are designed to allow people a chance to learn and to play some of the songs that Dulci-More: Folk & Traditional Musicians members play regularly at meetings and events. The arrangements give melody lines in standard musical notation. Accompaniment chords are included. Words are included with the music (rather than in extra lines below the music) to allow for easier playing while singing. Numbers for the melody string(s) for fretted dulcimers are also shown (usually for dulcimers tuned in a DAA tuning). To play by numbers in another dulcimer tuning (DAD, DGD, or others) or on another instrument, read the music or write in your own numbers. Different chord names can also be written in to allow playing in different keys.

All songs are believed to be in the public domain. There are many technicalities involved in how music enters the public domain (and these continue to change as laws are rewritten) but a basic explanation for United States copyrights at the time of this writing includes songs copyrighted over 75 years ago, or ones with a published source at least that old whether copyrighted or not. Once the song is in the public domain, new adaptations and arrangements of the song can be made and copyrighted without getting permission of the author or copyright owner.

Suggestions for club songs are taken from members. Selections are then researched, adapted, and arranged for the club songbook by Bill Schilling.

For those wanting to order with credit cards, these books are carried by Elderly Instruments

They say, “2002 Revision. Huge songbook---295 titles, including 45 for Christmas---with melody, lyrics, chords and a special numbered tablature for autoharps of all kinds! Play chords or melody-style on hundreds of familiar songs, plus detailed notes about basic theory and harmony, a section on chord-button configurations and lots more. All songs are in the public domain -- great for singers and other instruments, too! Spiral-bound.” For convenience, the direct link for this book is http://www.elderly.com/books/items/597-2.htm for those who want it.

General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) Now Has Its Own Page

Octave Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) Now Has Its Own Page

Autoharp Volume (with Melody Chord Numbers)

As of February, 2003, there is available a 2002 Revision of the original May 1999, Autoharp Volume of the Dulci-More: Folk & Traditional Musicians Public Domain Songbook including the Dulci-More: Folk & Traditional Musicians Public Domain Songbook Christmas Volume. The Autoharp Volume 2002 Revision is in 8.5" X 11" format printed on both sides of paper and assembled in book form with a ¾” plastic binder comb. The songs include melody lines in standard musical notation, accompaniment chords, and words for most songs. Numbers for the melody chords for autoharps are also shown. All of the songs listed below (including the Christmas songs) are included in the 2002 Revision. There are a few pages that have more than one song on them (including the revision of a couple of the pages of Christmas music so that there are now a cover page and 45 pages of music in that section rather than the 47 pages mentioned elsewhere, however all of the songs are still there). The 2002 Revision includes 14 introductory pages, 250 pages of music in the general section, 1 cover page in the Christmas section, and 45 pages of music in the Christmas section for a total of 310 pages printed on both sides of 155 sheets of paper. The usual format for the book includes heavier protective cover stock around those pages bound with a standard 19 hole ¾” black plastic binder (for mail orders, unbound copies with no holes punched or unbound copies with three holes punched appropriate for three ring binders will be sent if you specify either of those as your preference rather than the plastic comb binder). The price for this book is $30. In the USA, include $7.00 shipping/handling for each General Volume ordered. Make personal checks or money orders payable to Bill Schilling, 984 Homewood Avenue, Salem, OH 44460-3816. Credit card and on-line orders cannot be accepted. The contents of the books are indexed below for your information. Use this link to open a printable Order Form (in a new window) to send along with your order.

The 1999 Volume of the Autoharp Songbook had 119 pages of songs and the Christmas section had 47 pages of songs. There were a few additional pages of instructional information for autoharp players developed by Bill when he led a week long autoharp workshop at the John C. Campbell Folk School (and those have been liberally updated including some chord bar layout charts and explanations for the 2002 Revision). The 2002 Revision of the Autoharp Volume (with Melody Chord Numbers) contains all of the same songs as the 2002 Revision of the General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers). The difference is that the numbers beneath the lyrics (or beneath the music for instrumentals) represent autoharp melody chords in one and dulcimer fret numbers in the other. The 1999 Volume of the Autoharp Songbook had melody chord letters. All of the songs have been converted to melody chord numbers making using the book easier for those who need to play in keys other than the key of D in which most of the songs are written. All songs from the 1999 Volume are included, and updates will be available as more songs are added to the Dulci-More Songbook.

Updating Earlier Autoharp Volume Songbooks

The 1999 Autoharp Volume of the songbook had 119 pages of songs and the Christmas section had 47 pages of songs. There were a few additional pages of instructional information. The autoharp versions of all songs from Volumes 1, 2, 3, and the Christmas Volume of the Dulci-More Songbook Volumes were included, and updates are now available to include all of the songs in the Dulci-More Public Domain Songbook Autoharp Volume 2002 Revision. There is a difference in that the 1999 Volume used Melody Chord Letter Tablature and the 2002 Revision uses Melody Chord Number Tablature. Most people should be able to switch between the two types of tablature without much difficulty, but some might need to write converted tablature for some (or even all) of the songs to help them understand and work with the two types. This update includes two new pages of Table of Contents, ten pages of other Introductory Material, and 133 pages of songs. They are printed on only one side of the paper so that they can be arranged in order with the other songs already in your book. Make sure to specify whether you want three hole punching or whether you do not want three hole punching when you order. This update for the 1999 Autoharp Volume of the songbook is priced at $14.50. In the USA, include $7.00 shipping/handling for each 1999 Autoharp Volume Update ordered. Make personal checks or money orders payable to Bill Schilling, 984 Homewood Avenue, Salem, OH 44460-3816. Credit card and on-line orders cannot be accepted. The contents of the books are indexed below for your information. Use this link to open a printable Order Form (in a new window) to send along with your order.

Sometime in 2000, 25 pages of songs were added to the General Volume of the Dulci-More Public Domain Songbook without a price increase. If you received 144 pages of songs plus 47 pages of Christmas songs plus a few additional pages of chord charts and additional information including all songs from Volumes 1, 2, 3, and the Christmas Volume and the songs in the list below that starts with Be Thou My Vision and ends with Wonderful Words of Life, then this is the update you need. It includes two new pages of Table of Contents and 108 pages of songs. They are printed on only one side of the paper so that they can be arranged in order with the other songs already in your book. Make sure to specify whether you want three hole punching or whether you do not want three hole punching when you order. This update for the 2000-2002 volume of the songbook is priced at $11.00. In the USA, include $7.00 shipping/handling for each 2000-2002 General Volume Update ordered. Make personal checks or money orders payable to Bill Schilling, 984 Homewood Avenue, Salem, OH 44460-3816. Credit card and on-line orders cannot be accepted. The contents of the books are indexed below for your information. Use this link to open a printable Order Form (in a new window) to send along with your order.

Included with the index listings below are some examples of songs from the pages of the songbooks:

This song shows an example of the current melody chord number tablature.

Volume 1

Amazing Grace; Angel Band; The Ash Grove; Aunt Rhodie; Banks of the Ohio; Boil Them Cabbage Down; The Crawdad Song; Danny Boy; Do Lord; Down in the Valley; Fairest Lord Jesus; Faith of Our Fathers; Flop-Eared Mule; Frere Jacques; Gentle Maiden; God Be with You till We Meet Again; Grandfather's Clock; Hard Times Come Again No More; He's Got the Whole World in His Hands; His Eye Is on the Sparrow; I Love to Tell the Story; Life's Railway to Heaven; Michael, Row the Boat Ashore; Mississippi Sawyer; Old Joe Clark; Red River Valley; Shall We Gather at the River; Shenandoah; Simple Gifts; Skip to My Lou; Soldier's Joy; Somebody Touched Me; Southwind; Sweet Hour of Prayer; Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; This Little Light of Mine; Wayfaring Stranger; What Wondrous Love Is This; When Irish Eyes Are Smiling; When the Saints Go Marching in; Wildwood Flower; and Will the Circle Be Unbroken

Volume 2

All Good Things Are Passed and Gone; All Through the Night; America (Round); The Camptown Races; Chinese; Clementine; Come Life, Shaker Life; Come Take a Trip in My Airship; Daisy Bell; Dona Nobis Pacem; The Glendy Burke; Hand Me Down My Walking Cane; Holy Is God; Home on the Range; Kumbaya; Loch Lomond; Long Green Valley; Lorena; Love (Round); Love Is Little; Music Alone Shall Live; My Old Kentucky Home; Nonesuch; Oh, How Lovely Is the Evening; Oh, Susanna; Oh, Them Golden Slippers; Old Dan Tucker; The Preacher and the Slave; Redwing; Rock of Ages; Row, Row, Row Your Boat; The Shakers; She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain; Skye Boat Song; Stepstone; Sweet By-and-By; Three Blind Mice; Time Has Made a Change in Me; Turkey in the Straw; The Uncloudy Day; Wabash Cannonball; The Water Is Wide; When the Wagon Was New; and Whispering Hope

Volume 3

Am I a Soldier of the Cross; America; America the Beautiful; Auld Lang Syne; Battle Cry of Freedom; Battle Hymn of the Republic; The Blue Tail Fly; Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine; DAA Chord Chart; DAD Chord Chart; Drowsy Maggie; Fairy Belle; For the Beauty of the Earth; Gentle Annie; Greensleeves; The Gum Tree Canoe; The Hour for Thee and Me; How Can I Keep From Singing; Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair; Liberty; Little Brown Church in the Vale; Little Brown Jug; Little Joe the Wrangler; Marching through Georgia; My Home; My Own Home; Nine Hundred Miles; Old Folks at Home; Our Bright Summer Days Are Gone; Over the Waterfall; Planxty George Brabazon; Planxty Irwin; Rosin the Beau; Saint Anne's Reel; Sandy River Belle; Si Bheag Si Mhor (in D); Si Bheag Si Mhor (in G); Some Folks; Wait for the Wagon; Westphalia Waltz; When I Can Read My Title Clear; Whiskey Before Breakfast

Christmas Volume

Angels from the Realms of Glory; Angels We Have Heard on High; As with Gladness Men of Old; Away in a Manger; Bring a Torch, Jeanette, Isabella; The Cherry Tree Carol; Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus; Deck the Hall; The First Noel; The Friendly Beasts; Gloria Medley; Go Tell It on the Mountain; God Rest You Merry Christians; Good Christian Friends, Rejoice; Good King Wenceslas; Hark! the Herald Angels Sing; He Is Born, the Holy Child; Here We Come a-Wassailing; The Holly and the Ivy; The Holly Bears a Berry; Hush, My Babe, Lie Still and Slumber; I Saw Three Ships; In the Bleak Midwinter; Jingle Bells; Jolly Old Saint Nicholas; Joy to the World; Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming; Manger Medley; Mary Had a Baby; O Christmas Tree; O Come, All Ye Faithful; O Come, O Come, Emmanuel; O Holy Night; Once in Royal David's City; Silent Night; Still, Still, Still; Sussex Carol (On Christmas Night); There's a Song in the Air; The Twelve Days of Christmas; Up on the Housetop; We Wish You a Merry Christmas; What Child Is This; When Christ Was of a Virgin Born; and While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

This song shows an example of the current melody chord number tablature.

1999 Autoharp Volume (includes all above)

New in Autoharp Volume (with Autoharp Melody Numbers) 2002 Revision Volume

A B C; Abide with Me; Angelina Baker; Another Year Is Dawning; Aura Lee; Be Thou My Vision; Black Eyed Susan; Blackberry Blossom; Blessed Assurance;Blessed Be the Name; Blest Be the Tie that Binds; Blow the Man Down; The Boatman Dance; The Bonnie Blue Flag; Breathe on Me, Breath of God; Buffalo Boy; Buffalo Gals; Canal Boat Wedding; A Canal Dance; Careless Love; Chester; Chinese Breakdown; Cindy; The Clever Skipper; Cluck Old Hen; Cockles and Mussels; Come, Ye Thankful People, Come; Cornwallis Country Dance; Dixie (Dixie’s Land); Down Among the Cane-Breaks; Eating Goober Peas; The Erie Canal; The E-ri-e Canal; Erin’s Green Shore; Fairy Boy; Fairy Palace; Flow Gently, Sweet Afton; Fortune; The Fox; Froggie Went a-Courting; Get that Boat; The Girl in the Wood; God Leads Us Along; God that Madest Earth and Heaven; Grandma’s in the Cellar; Green Corn; Ground Hog; Happy the Home When God Is There; Hard Crackers; He Leadeth Me: Oh Blessed Thought; Hey, Ho, Nobody Home; Holy, Holy, Holy; Home, Sweet Home; How Firm a Foundation; I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow; I Ride an Old Paint; I’ve Been Working on the Railroad; I’ve Got Peace Like a River; In Christ There Is No East or West; In the Garden; In the Good Old Summertime It Is Well with My Soul;; It’s Pleasant to Run in Full Moon; Jesse James; Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross; Jesus Loves Me; John Ryan’s Polka; Just After the Battle; Just as I Am; Just Over in the Glory-Land; Keys to the Kingdom; Lady Mary; The Land Where We’ll Never Grow Old; Last Trip in the Fall; Leaning on the Everlasting Arms; Let the Lower Lights Be Burning; List to the Bells; Little Sally Waters; Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days; The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want; Maggie in the Woods; Mairi’s Wedding; Make New Friends; Mary Had a Little Lamb; The Mules Ran Off; My Hope Is Built; My Old Canal Mule; Off to California; Oh, the Lamb; The Old Canal; The Old Skipper; On Top of Old Smoky; Paddle Song; Planxty Fanny Power; Polly Wolly Doodle; Pop Goes the Weasel; Ragtime Annie; Rainbow Waltz; Revive Us Again; Rock the Cradle, Joe; Roxanna Waltz; Sally Ann; Savior. Again to Thy Dear Name; Shady Grove; Sipping Cider Through a Straw; Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling; Streets of Laredo; Study War No More; Sweet Betsy from Pike; Take My Life, and Let It Be; Taps; Tenting on the Old Camp Ground; That Old Towpath; There Is a Balm in Gilead; Thou Poor Bird; ‘Tis the Old Ship of Zion; The Titanic; Tramp, Tramp, Tramp; Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; The Vacant Chair; We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder; We Are Going Down the Valley; We Gather Together; Were You There; What a Friend We Have in Jesus; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder; When You and I Were Young, Maggie; Where the Soul Never Dies; Wind that Shakes the Barley; Wonderful Words of Life; Worried Man Blues; Yankee Doodle; Yellow Rose of Texas

Information about the General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) Is on Its Own Page

Information about the Octave Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) Is on Its Own Page

This song shows an example of the older melody chord letter tablature.

Using the Dulci-More Public Domain Songbook Autoharp Volume

Many beginning level musicians like to have some explanation about why things are set up the way they are here. Some people wonder why there are more notes than in other arrangements of the same songs. Some players want to know if they can play these songs in other tunings. People who don't play autoharps wonder what the melody chord tablature numbers are all about. This is an attempt to answer some of the common questions and to offer some explanations for how to work with the music to your best advantage. This information will help some and will only create bigger questions for others. If you fall in the latter category, just play what is here for a while, and then come back and try to understand the information later. If it still doesn't work, go to a workshop for your instrument, read explanations in other books more devoted to these subjects, or take some lessons.

This songbook is designed to allow people a chance to learn and to play some of the songs that Dulci-More plays at meetings and events. The arrangements give melody lines in standard musical notation. Accompaniment chords are included above the standard notation. Lyrics are below the standard notation. Below the lyrics (or below the standard notation for instrumentals), melody chord tablature numbers for autoharps are shown.

Some people may choose to use these arrangements to make their own adaptations to suit their needs (rewritten, not copied to avoid violating copyright laws). Typical changes might be making other tablature (1, 3, or more line dulcimer tab in DAD, DAA, or other; 6 line guitar tab; 5 line banjo tab; 4 line mandolin tab; or other), otherwise adapting the songs to fit your instrument or tuning, eliminating parts that you don’t use (some use just music for instrumentals, others use just lyrics for singing, and others use lyrics and chords for singing with basic accompaniment), or transposing the song to another key for ease of playing on your instrument or for singing in your vocal range. Understanding a little bit about the mechanics of these operations will allow some to make many of the changes right in this book. Owners may want to write in or cross off some numbers, notes, lyrics, chords, or other things to make the music easier to understand and/or to play and/or sing. A suggestion might be to lightly write in pencil so that additional changes can be made or so that one can revert to the original as one gets used to using the book (especially for sharing books), but permanent changes with ink, markers, or highlighters may work best for some.

Some players and singers may choose always to read music, using this or other books as references, guides, and tools whenever they practice or perform (to become paper trained as some would say and as many classical musicians are). Others may choose to use the book only enough to become familiar with the songs before beginning to play the songs by ear and/or to convert the melodies, chords, and/or words to memory (to make the songs their own as some would say and as many classical musicians do). Both methods have their places. The arranger uses both methods at times and encourages you to do what works best for you and suggests that what is best may change over time and in different circumstances.

Special Notes on These Arrangements

Since these arrangements are done by someone who is primarily a singer, the notation may be a little harder to understand than some other arrangements. The key to these arrangements are the dotted line ties and slurs. When there are different numbers of syllables in different verses, notes are broken into smaller components (for instance, a quarter note might become an eighth note and two sixteenths connected by dotted line ties) to show the timing of the lyrics in the different verses. Thus, singers and those who want to play the melody exactly as done by singers might use a quarter note for one verse and some combinations of notes (two eighths, an eighth and two sixteenths, or a dotted eighth and a sixteenth) for the other verses depending on the phrasing of the words. Naturally, the syllables are below the note on which one would begin to sing them, and they are generally held until the next syllable begins (although sometimes a rest is appropriate before the next syllable – more often for slurred notes than for ties). The arranger used the phrasings shown at some point (and may still use them). They are general suggestions, but the arranger and others may find that variations in the phrasing might work better than what is shown, depending on interpretation and effects wanted. However, instrumentalists (even one accompanying singers) can often be more effective by playing the major notes and leaving out some of the phrasings a singer would use (or by adding extra notes and decorations to the basic melodies). Crossing out numbers of the phrasing notes and/or adding in extra numbers for decorations might be an effective way for some folks to work with this music (especially for those who have some trouble counting and just hold out notes based on how long it feels right to do so and are confused by repeated numbers under ties).

The chords shown above the standard notation are generally acceptable accompaniment chords (often the simplest possible accompaniments, but very complicated arrangements for some songs). Other color chords may be chosen and written in for variations in the arrangements. The arranger likes the sound of V7 (V7) chords compared to V chords (also written 57 (57) compared to 5 and referring to A7 (A7) compared to A chords in the key of D). They are often interchangeable, but for the ears of some players or for some kinds of music the V chord is more proper than the V7 (V7) chord (like old-time music played by traditional string bands). Use your own judgment, the preference of your ear, or the choices being used by others you are playing with to determine whether to use the V or V7 (V7) chord. As with other things in the book, the owner may choose to cross off, add in, or somehow highlight the 7 (7) until playing it in the preferred way becomes natural. Chords shown in parentheses are alternate chords. Generally folks in a group should decide before playing a song with alternate chords whether to stay on the previous chord or to switch to the alternate chord (although both may work together).

Autoharp Melody Chord Tablature

For the autoharp, a single line of autoharp melody chord number tablature is shown for each song. Generally the songs here are written in the key of D to accommodate a dulcimer tuned in a DAA tuning. However, by using the melody chord number tablature, an autoharp player with an instrument set up in a logical arrangement (one logical arrangement would be what is musically referred to as a circle of fifths) and an understanding of how the keys are related can play any of the songs in any key that will work best for that player. If playing with other instruments, they will have to understand how they can convert a song to that different key (by playing in a different key than is written in the book whether by using a properly placed capo and playing the chords written on instruments which can use a capo; by figuring out the starting note and playing the rest of the song by ear; by retuning and playing the melody numbers in the dulcimer version of this songbook; and/or by converting all the notes and/or accompaniment chords in a song in writing or by memory).

The single line of autoharp melody chord number tablature represents the chord buttons and related bars on the autoharp. There are different kinds and makes of autoharps. Most are set up as chromatic or diatonic, but sometimes there are other setups for special kinds of music. Any of these autoharps may have varying numbers of chord bars, configurations of chord bars, and keys that the chord bars are set up to play in. Several examples of chord bar layouts are given on the Example Chord Bar Layouts pages in this book, but many others are possible. The choice of layout may be due to differences in the first layout one originally learned to play, the way new autoharps are set up, individual thought processes, individual preferences, physical attributes and/or limitations, playing positions, types of music generally played, or other considerations. The melody chord number tablature in this book can be used most effectively by most people if they set their autoharp or autoharps up so that the chords for each key (as shown on the Major Key Chord Chart in this book) are in the same relative positions allowing the player to use and memorize certain finger combinations that will work in any key. However, some players have minds and muscle control that easily switch from one layout to another. Some also find that a phenomenon known as harmonics prevents them from using the same layout for each key (if you are hearing a high, bell-like ringing on some chords, you may want to find out more about this).

At the top of each page in this autoharp version of the book, the chord numbers and names (for the key in which the song is written here) are listed. Once players understand the relationship of keys, these lists will make it easy for them to decide whether the songs can easily be played on a given autoharp and will help people who need to transpose figure out which key(s) they can transpose to.

Basic Accompaniment Styles

If you are chording to provide backup for singing or other melody instruments, the simplest way is to use the chords above the melody lines in the music. By using a few chords with simple strums, it is easy to accompany many songs. Some players find that they can begin playing some melody while using those chords and adjusting their strumming or picking to try hitting specific notes in the chords. Once they hear the melody in those situations (and find places where they cannot hear the melody note), then they can look at the melody chord number tablature for that point in the song to find a needed change. Often the simplest places to find these changes are for the last few notes in a song. Finding limited chord changes within a song (or songs with only two chords listed at the top of the page) and working with them slowly and gradually speeding up until the movements become natural generally make learning to play melody easier.

Left Hand Technique (Holding Down Chord Bars)

To understand how to play melody using the autoharp melody chord number tablature, here are some instructions and basic information. When a chord bar is held down on an autoharp several notes are sounded at the same time (while the rest are muted by the chord bar). The specific notes sounded for each chord should be the ones shown in the Major Key Chord Chart (and there will be about 2-3 of each note sounded on your autoharp in different octaves). The melody of a song is generally made up of individual notes rather than chords. Other notes that sound good or appropriate with the melody make up the harmony or other voices of a song that go along with a melody. The accompaniment chords shown above the music contain enough melody and harmony notes to sound good with a song (and usually enough of those notes to keep singers generally on track), but there are often passing notes that are not in the main accompaniment chords. Some arrangements (like piano or organ parts for hymns) have all of the passing notes to lead singers in their parts, but most simplified accompaniment stays on main accompaniment chords (shown above the music in this book) and lets voices or lead instruments find the melody on their own. This method of accompaniment may result in some not quite harmonious sounds between melody and accompaniment on passing notes, however since they are passing notes, they generally go by quickly enough that those sounds are not unpleasant. When playing the melody on the autoharp, one must change to a different chord bar whenever there is a passing note (a note not included in the notes of whichever chord bar one is holding down for accompaniment chords). Sometimes two or more chord bars need to be used for two or more notes in a row which are not in the accompaniment chord. Thus the most important key to melody chord playing is probably quick and efficient changes on the chord bars (left handed playing for most) to find all of the passing notes. However if one just strums along on all strings throughout the chord bar changes, there may well be some hot quite harmonious notes clashing with others playing accompaniment chords or with voices or instruments doing harmonies. Thus, consideration of the strumming or picking hand is also important in understanding how to play melodies effectively.

Right Hand Technique (Strumming and Picking)

Strumming and picking with thumb and/or fingers (with or without picks) is generally done with the right hand (although some prefer to switch the usual jobs for the hands to play left handed – but left handed people first learning the instrument should probably play in the standard ways since the left hand is doing the hard part as described above). The simplest accompaniment styles involve just strumming over many strings (not necessarily all, but more than just a couple) on one or more of the major beats of each measure while holding down the accompaniment chords shown above the music. As one becomes comfortable keeping a steady beat while changing accompaniment chords, the player can strum on more beats in each measure (usually outward strokes with the thumb, a thumbpick, or a flatpick on the major beats or counted beats of each measure). A next step in accompaniment is to add some of the off beats (the and beats between the counted beats of each measure) (usually inward strokes with one or more fingers, fingerpicks, or a flatpick). Accompaniment styles become varied and interesting as the player varies those kinds of strokes including accents and/or silence and/or low, medium, or high ranges of strings strummed or picked to fit the particular tune or song. When playing melody, the right hand will usually try to zero in on less strings than in accompaniment playing, trying to hear and play the melody notes. Once a player finds the melody note, moving slightly or a lot toward the shorter strings will be necessary to find the next note if it is a little or a lot higher in the musical notation, and moving slightly or a lot toward the longer strings will be necessary to find the next note if it is a little or a lot lower in the musical notation. With practice one can get one clear melody note at a time (but may also be strumming over some of the notes that are muted by the chord bar) followed by the next and the next throughout a section or song.

To add interest and immediate harmonization to a song, a player may choose to include more than just the melody note while still bringing out the melody by using methods such as thumb strums, thumb lead, cross picking, pinch-pluck, patting, and other methods of playing with the right hand. The thumb strum technique involves strumming several strings from the bass up to the where one hears the melody note (with thumb, thumbpick, or a flatpick) and continuing that same pattern for each note. A thumb lead involves aggressively picking individual melody notes on the beat with the thumbpick and aggressively picking individual melody notes off the beat with a fingerpick coming in the other direction to allow one to play fast passages or songs. Cross picking also uses a thumb and one finger in opposite directions to emphasize rhythm with melody. Pinch-pluck playing involves finding each melody note with one finger while playing some rhythm and/or melody or harmony note(s) with the thumb and possibly adding in other harmony notes with one or more other fingers. Patting uses the flat part of the fingerpicks struck against the strings for a percussive or bell-like sound.

Holding the Autoharp

Many of today’s autoharp players hold the autoharp upright with the front of the autoharp facing forward and the long edge of the autoharp (by the bass strings) along the left side of the face. Holding it in position with the left hand while chording with the left hand can be tiring, can limit the use of the hand for chording, and can possibly increase the possibility of repetitive stress injuries. Thus, most players use a strap to keep the autoharp in position while standing or sitting or a leg rest while sitting. Some players prefer to place the autoharp flat (on the lap, a stand, or table) in front of them. Most will have the bass strings toward them. On early autoharps the chord bars were placed so that a person could chord with the left hand and strum with the right hand along the bottom (string anchor) edge of the instrument. Most of today’s autoharps have the chord bars placed closer to the bottom (string anchor) edge to optimize the upright playing style and because the sound is generally mellower and better when the string is plucked near its center. Thus, most people playing the autoharp in a flat position cross the right hand over the left to pick or strum the stings in the same area as those playing upright use. Other options and variations are used by people because of limitations or because of what they have gotten used to. Most players would prefer not to have to press chord bars as hard with the left hand. Finding ways to not have to press down so far by keeping the chord bars closer to the strings (shims at the ends of the bars or between the chord bar and the cover and even using weaker springs) are things people can do if they are willing to operate on their autoharps.

Alternate Chord Bar Choices and Limitations

One other important point to consider is the choice of chord bars for accompaniment and for melodies. Each note of a song can generally be played by several different chord bars. There are conventions for various types of music that suggest which set of chords will probably sound best with a given song, but variations in those conventions can be thought of as individual arrangements of a song. In a diatonic song (one with no accidentals shown by a sharp, flat, or natural sign in front of a specific note in a song momentarily changing the key signature of the song – most of the songs in this book are diatonic), one can play all of the melody notes with just the I (1), IV (4), and V (5) or V7 (57) chords. However, substituting other chords in some places will allow the other notes in the chord to match harmonies more closely or to provide shadings and colorings to the arrangement that are more interesting. Players should feel free to experiment with these color chords as much as they feel comfortable, and when they find things they prefer to the melody chords written in this book, they should write them in. Classic rock might regularly add the VIm (6m) to the I (1), IV (4), V7 (57) chords.

If a chord bar and/or note are not available with the tuning of your instrument, it may be possible to play something else for your arrangement of the song (see Study War No More for an example), to play harmony notes from a chord, to find a way to play just the melody note or drones (by holding down more than one chord bar at a time), or to do something else (like holding down enough chord bars to mute all of the strings and strumming only rhythm at that point) depending on what sounds acceptable to your ear and the ears of those around you. Some players choose never to play songs that require a different technique than they are used to. Some find one song that they love which requires a new technique and learn to use it for that song (and then find that a whole new realm of songs is open to them). Proceed at your own rate for these things.

More About Using the Book for All Players

A few songs (particularly some instrumentals) are shown twice. The difference may be only showing autoharp melody chord number tablature versus autoharp melody chord letter tablature that was used in the 1999 version of this book. Comparisons of the number and letter versions of the tablature on these pages may make it easier for people to understand how to use the melody chord number tablature in this book. Other songs shown twice are written in different keys. A comparison of the melody chord number tablature should show the same numbers for the two keys since the 1 (I), 4 (IV), and 5 (V) or 57 (V7) chord relationships will be the same in both keys, but they will refer to different chords in the two different keys. Comparisons of the accompaniment chords above the music may make it easier for people to understand how chords in different keys are related (as shown on the Major Key Chord Chart). Often the key other than D is considered the standard key for the song by most people who play it, but our club voted early in our existence to try to keep most of our music in the key of D with fretted dulcimer tablature in DAA (and the songs can be played that way when not played with someone using the more standard tuning). A few songs give a possible harmony part.

Despite the early decision of the club, several songs in G, D minor, E minor, or other keys are in the book.

The vocal ranges of some (or many) songs in this songbook are too low or too high for many people. Sometimes people play with instruments not based in the key of C like Bb trumpets, clarinets, tenor saxophones, Eb alto saxophones, F French horns or with instruments that can only play in the key of C like many small harps, many basic harmonicas, and some whistles. Transposing the songs from the key of D (or other original key) may be needed in these situations. Whenever an alternate key is used, everyone must switch to the new key by doing whatever is necessary whether it involves playing different chords and notes, retuning, using a capo and playing the song as written, or some other method.

Chromatic autoharp players with logical chord bar placement using the circle of fifths can simply move their fingers to a different set of bars to change keys. Diatonic autoharp players can simply use a different autoharp to change keys. Mountain dulcimer players (and some others) can often use the trick of retuning all the strings to a different key and playing the numbers written in the dulcimer version of this book rather than changing all of the notes in the song. Hammered dulcimer players will need to move to another set of marked bridges (and may have a limited number of keys available). Many stringed instruments can play the chords written or can play easier to form (or more familiar) chords by putting on a capo at a specific fret and playing relative chords in a different key by understanding how to transpose. Others may need to transpose each individual note in each song if playing melody (but using the melody chord number tablature in this book makes those changes automatically as long as one moves the picking or strumming fingers appropriately while using the relative chords). Those singing or playing by ear can do the transposing just by listening and finding the relative pitches.

Transposing Wheels and Chart

The Transposing Wheels and Chart shown at the end of this section and the Major Key Chord Chart on a later page can be used to change the notes or chords in a song from one key to another. To use the transposing wheels to change the chords in a song, decide what new key would work best. Finding the key of the original song can usually be done by finding the final melody note of a song or the final chord of a song (unless the song sounds like it doesn’t come to a conclusion in which case it’s best just to refer to the key signature and to whether the song feels like it is in a major or minor key).

Once the original key and the new transposed key have been decided upon, count the number of steps to get from one key to the other on the wheel and note whether the direction of travel is clockwise or counterclockwise. Then count the same number of steps in the same direction to change each chord from the original to the newly transposed key. Remember to include suffixes such as seventh or minor for new chords. Use the same method for the notes of the song.

To use the charts choose rows for the original and the new keys and find the original and the new notes or chords in the columns. For notes, decide whether to go to higher or lower tones. Watch out for accidentals not in the major scale.

Guitar, banjo, mandolin, and other players not wanting to play everything in the key of D might capo at the second fret and play the songs in this book in the key of C (or capo at the seventh fret and play G or capo at the fifth fret and play A). Chords played on any instrument with a capo should be played as if the capo is a new nut with all finger positions relative to the capo as they would be to the nut without the capo.

Transposing Chart

Key          Do  Re  Mi   Fa  Sol  La   Ti   Do

C               C    D    E    F    G    A    B    C

G              G    A    B    C    D    E   F#   G

D               D    E   F#   G    A    B   C#   D

A               A    B   C#   D    E   F#  G#   A

E               E   F#  G#   A    B   C#  D#   E

B               B   C#  D#   E   F#  G#  A#   B

Gb            Gb  Ab  Bb  Cb  Db  Eb   F   Gb

Db            Db  Eb   F   Gb  Ab  Bb   C   Db

Ab            Ab  Bb   C   Db  Eb   F    G   Ab

Eb            Eb   F    G   Ab  Bb   C    D   Eb

Bb            Bb   C    D   Eb   F    G    A   Bb

F               F    G    A   Bb   C    D    E    F

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