Dulci-More: Folk & Traditional Musicians

Public Domain Songbooks

General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) 2002 Revision

Now Available with Information Here

Go to Autoharp Songbook Page

Autoharp Volume (with Autoharp Melody Chord Numbers) 2002 Revision

Now Available with Information on Its Own Page

Go to Octave Songbook Page

Octave Volume (with 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 February 2, 2019

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, “Huge songbook---almost 300 titles---with melody, lyrics, guitar chords and numbers for dulcimers tuned D-A-A. Chord charts for D-A-A, D-A-D and D-G-G-tuned dulcimers, too, as well as notes about basic theory and harmony. All songs are in the public domain, including 45 songs for Advent and Christmas. Great for singers and other instruments, too! Spiral-bound.” For convenience, the direct link for this book is  http://www.elderly.com/books/items/597-1.htm for those who want it.

Autoharp Volume Now Has Its Own Page

General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers)

As of July, 2002, there is available a 2002 Revision of the original May 1999, General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) of the Dulci-More: Folk & Traditional Musicians Public Domain Songbook including the Dulci-More: Folk & Traditional Musicians Public Domain Songbook Christmas Volume. The General 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 string(s) for fretted dulcimers are also shown (usually for dulcimers tuned in a DAA tuning). 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 $7.50 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.

Updating Earlier General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) Songbooks

The 1999 Volume of the songbook has 119 pages of songs and the Christmas section has 47 pages of songs. There are a few additional pages of chord charts and instructional information. All songs from Volumes 1, 2, 3, and the Christmas Volume are included, and updates are now available to include all of the songs in the Dulci-More Public Domain Songbook 2002 Revision. If your book does not include 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 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 earliest volume of the songbook is priced at $13.50. In the USA, include $7.50 shipping/handling for each 1999 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.

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 $7.50 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: 

Original Dulci-More Songbook Volumes

The original songbooks are in a convenient 5.5" X 8.5" size (folded 8.5" X 11" sheets) with heavy card stock covers for extra protection. The music notation for all of the books is done using the Finale program for computers, so it is like standard notation used in books by major publishers. The original musical notation for Volumes 1 & 2 was distinctive, but easy to read. Bill put all of the songs in the early versions of the books together using the draw part of the Ami Pro word processing program -- drawing each note or symbol and then using cut and paste techniques to place them properly. 

The songbooks feature information about Dulci-More Festivals since Volumes 1 & 2 were first released at Dulci-More Festivals 1 & 2. 

The 5.5” X 8.5” Volumes are currently available. They and others might become available again as decisions are made about the best way to include new songs for other volumes (by subject or in mixed volumes by date added to the Dulci-More repertoire as has been done previously) and whether everything should be in 8.5” X 11’ format with plastic binder combs or whether to continue with 5.5” X 8.5” Volumes. Input from users is encouraged for help in making these decisions. Copies of Dulci-More: Folk & Traditional Musicians Public Domain Songbooks previously available from Bill Schilling included: Volume 1 (40 pages), Volume 2 (40 pages), Volume 3 (44 pages), and the Christmas Volume (48 pages).

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 

Early General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) and Autoharp Volume (include all above)

Also Included in General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) sold from 2000-2002 (Includes all above)

Be Thou My Vision; Blessed Assurance; The Girl in the Wood; God that Madest Earth and Heaven; Hey, Ho, Nobody Home; In the Garden; It Is Well with My Soul; Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross; John Ryan’s Polka; Just as I Am; The Land Where We’ll Never Grow Old; List to the Bells; Maggie in the Woods; Make New Friends; Off to California; Paddle Song; Savior. Again to Thy Dear Name; Take My Life, and Let It Be; There Is a Balm in Gilead; Thou Poor Bird; ‘Tis the Old Ship of Zion; We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder; We Are Going Down the Valley; Were You There; What a Friend We Have in Jesus; Where the Soul Never Dies; Wind that Shakes the Barley; Wonderful Words of Life

New in General Volume (with DAA Dulcimer Numbers) 2002 Revision Volume (Includes all above)

A B C; Abide with Me; Angelina Baker; Another Year Is Dawning; Aura Lee; Black Eyed Susan; Blackberry Blossom; 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; God Leads Us Along; Grandma’s in the Cellar; Green Corn; Ground Hog; Happy the Home When God Is There; Hard Crackers; He Leadeth Me: Oh Blessed Thought; 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 Good Old Summertime; It’s Pleasant to Run in Full Moon; Jesse James; Jesus Loves Me; Just After the Battle; Just Over in the Glory-Land; Keys to the Kingdom; Lady Mary; Last Trip in the Fall; Leaning on the Everlasting Arms; Let the Lower Lights Be Burning; Little Sally Waters; Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days; The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want; Mairi’s Wedding; Mary Had a Little Lamb; The Mules Ran Off; My Hope Is Built; My Old Canal Mule; Oh, the Lamb; The Old Canal; The Old Skipper; On Top of Old Smoky; 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; Shady Grove; Sipping Cider Through a Straw; Softly and Tenderly, Jesus Is Calling; Streets of Laredo; Study War No More; Sweet Betsy from Pike; Taps; Tenting on the Old Camp Ground; That Old Towpath; The Titanic; Tramp, Tramp, Tramp; Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; The Vacant Chair; We Gather Together; When I Survey the Wondrous Cross; When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder; When You and I Were Young, Maggie; Worried Man Blues; Yankee Doodle; Yellow Rose of Texas

Information about the Autoharp Volume Is Now on Its Own Page

Information about the Octave Volume Is Now on Its Own Page

Using the Dulci-More Public Domain Songbook General 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 dulcimers wonder what the melody string 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 string tablature numbers for lap dulcimers are shown (usually for DAA tunings).

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 (3 line dulcimer tab in DAD, DAA, or other in 3 or more lines; 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.

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.

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 chords compared to V chords (also written 57 compared to 5 and referring to 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 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 chord. As with other things in the book, the owner may choose to cross off, add in, or somehow highlight the 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).

For the mountain dulcimer (also called the lap dulcimer, the fretted dulcimer, the Appalachian dulcimer, and other names), a single line of dulcimer tablature is shown for each song. Generally these are for a dulcimer tuned in a DAA tuning. The simplest way of playing the dulcimer is to play the melody on the one or two strings closest to you by holding them down just to the left of the frets indicated by the numbers and allowing the two strings farther away from you to sound without being held down. Those two strings produce the same sound with each strum and are referred to as drones. Since many early dulcimers in some areas only had frets under the melody strings, playing songs with the melody and drones is a very effective and traditional way of playing the dulcimer. It is how the music in this book is basically set up for the dulcimer, but other methods of playing can also be used with the book as described below.

The single line of dulcimer tablature represents fret numbers played on the melody string of the dulcimer. The letters B or M following some numbers indicate that those notes are played on the bass or middle strings respectively. Some dulcimers have extra frets (commonly referred to as half frets because they are about half way between two standard frets and provide a tone half way between the other tones for accidentals between the do re mi fa sol la ti do of major scales).

In a DAA tuning, a major scale starts at the third fret and goes to the 10th fret. If the sound of a simple tune that you should be able to recognize sounds wrong, then you may have one or more half frets. The majority of dulcimers produced currently probably have a 6½ fret. It seems to be getting more common for some dulcimers to have 13½, 1½, 8½, and occasional others. There are even some chromatic dulcimers with frets spaced to produce all half tones like on a guitar, banjo, or mandolin. Many of the songs in this book use a 6½ fret. The version of In the Garden here uses an 8½ fret. For dulcimers without half frets, some tunings may allow you to find the notes on another string (use the illustrations at the top of the chord chart pages to help find them). For notes not found anywhere in your tuning, it may be possible to play something else for your arrangement of the song (see Study War No More for an example), to play a harmony note, to simply play the drones, to play other notes in the chord, or to do something else (like bending the notes as discussed below) 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 tuning or technique than they are used to. Some find one song that they love which requires a new tuning or 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. One way to get notes not represented by a fret position on the dulcimer is to bend a note, stretching a string by pulling or pushing it to the side along a fret to raise a note half a tone above the tone usually produced at that fret using your hearing to tell how far to stretch the string to get the correct tone.

Those preferring a different dulcimer tuning can read the musical notes or write in different numbers to allow playing by the numbers. After doing this for a few songs, some people become adept at converting the numbers in their heads and no longer have to write them on the pages. It would probably be most common for people to try to convert to DAD. Here are a couple of hints to help with this. The general rule is to subtract 3 from the number shown in DAA to get to DAD. This will not work for 0 (the melody string played open without being fretted anywhere), 1, or 2. The notes for 0, 1, and 2 should simply be played on the A string that is left (the middle string) at the 0, 1, and 2 positions. Otherwise notes stay on the melody string where 3 becomes 0, 4 becomes 1, 5 becomes 2, 6 becomes 3, and so on. However, there is one difference in the spacing of the frets to watch out for. If 9 is converted to 6, the notes will be a half tone flat (or low). Thus, 9 becomes 6½ rather than 6. Notes on the bass string stay in the same place since that is a D string in either tuning. Some people may subtract all of these numbers in their heads very quickly as they come to them. Others may just think of the numbers in these different locations or visualize the fretboard as having these different numbers on them (even using stickers on the fretboard for a brief time to get used to them) since many people and clubs prefer to play in a DAD tuning, but want to incorporate songs found here).

If a song is shown in a different tuning (DAC, DAG, DAD, DGA, DGG, DGD, or something else) it is necessary to retune to that tuning to have the melody string sound properly with the drones for the song. Since many dulcimers have 4 strings rather than 3 strings, and some players may not have access to other information about the tunings, here is a little explanation. Except for a few dulcimers strung for left handed players, the tuning pegs should be to the left and the strum area to the right as you hold your instrument. The string farthest away from your body is the bass string (generally heavier than the other strings). The one next to it is generally called the middle string. The one closest to you is the melody string. If there are four strings and the two close to you are closer together than the other strings, then there are two melody strings. They are always tuned alike and referred to as just one melody string. Fretting should be done by placing a finger or noter just to the left of the fret without actually touching the fret to give the clearest sound. (If your dulcimer has 4 equidistant strings, 5 strings, 6 strings, or some other number of strings, it may be best to check with an experienced player to find out how they are all related). The tunings referred to here are in the order of bass, middle, and melody strings. In a DAA tuning, the melody and middle strings are tuned to an A higher than the D of the bass string (musically a fifth higher, and the dulcimer tunings shown below the first staff line of each song reflect the relationship of the strings to each other). To change from a DAA tuning to a DAC or DAD tuning, tune the melody string higher; to a DAG tuning, tune the melody string lower; to a DGA tuning, tune the middle string lower; to a DGG tuning, tune the melody and middle strings lower; and to a DGD tuning tune the melody string higher and the middle string lower.

A dulcimer player may choose to tune all the strings higher or lower (keeping the relationship between the different strings the same) to play in a different key. Some examples of notes used for different keys are on the chord chart pages.

Another way to play in a different key (although this can be very limiting for finding all of the needed notes) is to use a capo. In this book, the dulcimer tunings below the first staff line show the actual notes that the dulcimer is tuned to and the resulting open string notes at the capo when a capo is used. The numbers with a capo are given for the actual frets as in all of the other songs except that 0 refers to the capo position since that is where the string is being played open because the capo acts as a replacement for the nut. Naturally, frets to the left of the capo are not listed since they will not produce different sounds.

If you are chording to provide backup for singing or other melody instruments, use the diagrams shown on the chord charts, putting one finger (or the thumb) just to the left of the fret for each string that needs to be fretted and strum across all the strings. By knowing a few chords, it is easy to accompany many songs. Knowing a few more chords allows you to accompany songs being played in some keys different than the basic key in which your dulcimer is tuned. Many players prefer the sound of chords to the sound of drone strings and chord while playing melodies. Dulcimer tablature written on three lines is often designed to give this sound. With the one line dulcimer tablature in this book, you need to figure out your own chord accompaniments by learning several positions for different chords and then using the chords shown above the standard notation along with the melody line if you prefer that style of playing. As you do this, you will recognize several patterns for your left hand that will be used regularly, and playing melody with chords will become natural and easy with practice for those who want to have an alternative to playing with drones.

A few songs (particularly some instrumentals) are shown twice. The difference may be only showing DAA versus DAD melody tablature numbers so that people can get an idea of how these two tunings compare and to let people realize that the two tunings can be played simultaneously by two players since they are both in the key of D and complement each other well. In other instances, a second key with a different tuning is shown for the song to help players realize that there are different ways to play these songs on the dulcimer. 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.

Several songs in G, D minor, E minor, or other keys with alternate dulcimer tunings and tablature 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.

Mountain dulcimers (and some others) can often use the trick of retuning all the strings to a different key and playing the numbers written 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 those playing melody. Those singing or playing by ear can do the transposing just by listening and finding the relative pitches.

The Chart shown below can be used to change the notes or chords in a song from one key to another. To use the transposing chart 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).

To use the chart 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

D           Db  Eb   F   Gb  Ab  Bb   C   Db

Ab            Ab  Bb   C   Db  Eb   F    G   Ab

E           Eb   F    G   Ab  Bb   C    D   Eb

B           Bb   C    D   Eb   F    G    A   Bb

F               F    G    A   Bb   C    D    E    F



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Links to Other Home Pages Developed by Bill Schilling

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D-M Public Domain Songbooks

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Bill and Linda

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New Year's Eve Salem


Contact Information

Bill Schilling

984 Homewood Avenue

Salem, Ohio 44460-3816







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