Thursday, April 3, 2014


Do you know the 1-2-3-5 pattern? If not, you should. Sometimes, it's just the thing for filling space. It works starting from a marked course of strings (for a major chord) and from strings one above the mark (for a minor chord). But beware! It doesn't work played from one below the mark.

Try this:
  • Go to the marked G mid-way up the right treble bridge on your instrument
  • Play G with your left hand, alternate hands as you move through the pattern
  • Continue straight up the treble bridge, through the notes of the scale …               G - A - B, skipping C, strike D  See that? 1-2-3-(skip4)-5 (L-R-L-R)
Want to continue on into the next octave?
  • Your left hand will lead you across the treble bridge to strike the octave G on the left side of the treble bridge
  • Continue through the pattern … G - A - B, skip C, strike D
You've been moving up the treble bridge, but like other patterns on the hammered dulcimer, this one works across the valley, too.
  • Go to the low G on your bass bridge
  • Play the pattern, 1-2-3-5, straight up the bass bridge (LRLR)
  • Left hand leads you across the valley and strikes the octave G on the right side of the treble bridge
  • Continue up the right treble bridge, 1-2-3-5
  • Left hand leads you across the treble bridge to the next octave G
  • Continue up the left treble bridge, 1-2-3-5
  • Congratulations! You've just played three octaves of the 1-2-3-5 pattern!
Extra credit:
  • Play the Am pattern
  • Now try it in D, and Em, and all over your instrument
  • You've been moving UP the pattern, now move DOWN!  5-3-2-1 Figure out where to cross the bridge and valley

Incorporate this into your warm-up exercises. It's fun. It's useful. It even sounds pretty in practice!

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