Adding chords to songs is not as hard as it seems. I am going to assume that you have never played chords before, that you have only played one-note melody lines and just wish to add a chord at the beginning of each measure (or wish to just add a chord here and there).
HINT: One way to add chords to a simple, one note melody line is to find a barre chord, L chord, X chord or slant chord with the melody note on the treble string.
If you already know "Old Joe Clark" in the DAd tuning, try all of the following methods on that one tune. I believe there are about 8 (or more) different ways to play "Old Joe Clark" by playing partial X chords, partial barre chords, playing the melody just on the bass string, and playing these things up one octave (adding 7 to all your fret numbers), etc.
Most tunes list the chords for the song over the tab or over the music notation. So you know what the name of the chord is that you need to place in that position or in that measure. You can use what you know to find your chords counting up from the open strings, finding a chord that has the melody note on the treble string.
The Barre chords: Another way to find chords to put into simple one note melody lines in DAd tuning is to just fret the bass string at the same fret as the melody string. (This is a partial barre chord.) You don't usually have to know what chords you are playing or which chords you need to be playing with this method.
The L chords: You can find an L chord (by the same name as the chord name indicated above the tab or music notation) as long as the fret on the treble string is the same as the melody. If you are playing along with someone else, you can play an inverted L chord there for an interesting sound, or you can play any barre, X or slant chord there to harmonize with another player, not necessarily playing the same melody note for note, as long as you are both playing notes from a chord by the same name.
The X chords: You can also do the same thing with a partial X chord. In the DAd tuning, you just fret the middle string one fret higher, or one fret lower, than the melody note.
Anything you do up to the 7th fret can be repeated exactly like that above the 7th fret, you will just be playing an octave higher. Another way to put this is, if you add 7 to your fret numbers and play the resulting number, you will be playing the same tune, just an octave higher.
You can either strum your chords, or play them one fret at a time -- in an arpeggio fashion -- which is called fingerpicking or flatpicking (I won't get into the difference between fingerpicking and flatpicking here.). One way to do this is to get your fingers on the chord position, then pick the treble string, then the middle string, then the bass string, then the middle string and then the treble string again. It depends on how many counts you have in each measure and whether or not you can fit this all in along with all the melody notes in each measure.
Sometimes the chord you choose won't sound quite "right". Just experiment around until you hit on a chord that sounds right to you. Sometimes you have been playing a song for so long a certain way, that when you add chords it doesn't sound right to you anymore because you are used to hearing the drones. Other times, it will open up the song to you and make your playing more interesting.
Play around with one of your tunes in this fashion and if you can't get it to sound good to you, go to another tune. Things you tried with one tune might sound better in another tune. Without getting deep into music theory, experimentation is the best way. You already know the basics for finding chords, now it is just a matter of finding the right fingering for the chords you need to add.
As far as adding additional chords that aren't already listed as part of a song (embellishing), we will get into that in a later lesson. I have already given you hints in the lesson on minors and the lesson on 7th chords.
HINT: A scale is a progression of notes set up in a predetermined pattern.
The patterns for all Major scales are true no matter what key you are in.
The patterns for all minor scales (which are different than Major scales) are also true no matter what minor key you are in.
These patterns are set up in a series of Whole steps (W) and half steps (h). A half step would be from a white key to a black key on the piano keyboard. A Whole step would be from one white key to the next white key (provided there is a black key in between). The step from E to F and from B to C, therefore, would each be a half step even though these keys are all white -- they don't have a black key in between.
The note you start your scale on is the name of the key.
HINT: On the dulcimer, the wide spaces are "Whole" (W) steps and the narrow spaces are "half" (h) steps.
A Major or minor scale can be constructed beginning on any note, simply by following the correct series of Whole steps and half steps.
Each time we start our scale on a different note, we get a different combination of Sharps and flats. These sharps and flats name the key signature of the tune (what key it is in).
Practice running your scales up and down each string, starting on a different note (playing a different scale) each time.
You can also find the D scale on the bass string starting at the open string.
Another way to find the D scale is to start with the open bass string and play the first three frets, then move to the middle string and play the open string, the first fret and the second fret, and then move to the treble string and play the open string. You can then play the scale down just by reversing the process.
You can play a double scale by doing the above, but instead of stopping at the open treble string, you can continue the scale all the way up to the 7th fret.
There are other scales on your dulcimer. The scale of the Key of G starts on the third fret of the treble or bass string(s). See if you can run that scale using the Whole steps and half steps in the right positions. Remember to sing the "do, re, me" song as you go!
Scales are good to know because you can use them to fill in songs where there are rests or several measures of the same chord in a row with no melody notes. You can use them to fill spaces by running from the last note played up or down to the next melody note. You can also use them to add an ending to a song by running from the last note played to the same note an octave above it.
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