Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Regular 8 -- electric mountain dulcimer

This is a somewhat weird sketch for DGD tuned electric dulcimer. Recorded around the same time that I first convened Twang Darkly to start presenting this kind of stuff in a live context, it never made it into our live set because at the time I wasn't using DGD among the six tunings I utilized during our early shows.

Part of the strangeness of this piece is derived from the use of the capo at the first fret on the dulcimer. With a DGD tuning at capo one, I've got an EAE tuning. Utilizing a combination of the middle string and melody string (avoiding the #F note) as I do in this song, I'm effectively working in E Phrygian. Another way of understanding this is to say that I'm using the notes of C major scale, but with them centered and harmonized around E... or, if you prefer, I'm playing an altered Em scale that prominently features a flattened 2nd.

Or, you can just recognize that it has an unusual sort of tonality (e.g., it sounds kind of weird). Phrygian is heard relatively rarely, so your ears may be intrigued by this somewhat exotic mode.

The bass sound is, as you can see in the video, coming from the dulcimer as well. Same tuning and capo, but the instrument is being run through an EHX Hog pedal, a rather astounding piece of technology.

The title refers to the regular 8mm camera my family used when I was young. It was actually a silent camera, but many projectors I remember from that same period that did have sound produced the kind of flangey sound I'm using on the primary dulcimer in this piece.