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The Dulcimer Olympics
The Kitchen Musician is currently seeking contestants, a site, event coordinators and funding...especially funding, for The Dulcimer Olympics. This event should be held in connection with a major music festival. With many more competitions, there is a possibility of several gold, silver, phosphor bronze and tin winners in many different categories.
- Event 1 - Dulcimer Decathlon - Contestants are to play four pieces, slow air, waltz, jig and reel, one tune at each of the judging stations to be located (a) at one end of the festival field; (b) at least 100 meters from point (a), at the other end of the field; (c) at the top of the grandstand; and (d) at the far end of the parking lot. Judging based on speed while running with instrument, as well as on musical performance.
- Event 2 - Marathon - Contestants are to play one piece of their choosing, any key, any time signature. Judges will make sure no two contestants select the same tune. All contestants seated together in an acoustically suitable room (preferably with ceramic tile floors and walls). All contestants start simultaneously, and will continue playing until only one remains able to play...or only one remains sane.
- Event 3 - Dulcimer Construction - Contestants must make a "Steinway/McCullogh" hammer dulcimer using only items found around the home, such as a grand piano and a chain saw. Donors of pianos are being lackadaisically solicited, as Steinway, Bosendorfer, Kawai and Baldwin are expected to decline.
- Event 4 - Dulcimer Drop - Test of tuning. Dulcimers to be dropped on concrete floor from increasing heights, the last one to go out of tune being the winner.
- Event 5 - Split Brain - Whilst playing a fast competition piece, contestants must answer questions from judges like "If you win this contest, how will you use your dulcimer to save the whales and restore the rain forests?"
- Event 6 - Real Life Busking - While playing competition pieces, contestants must simultaneously: (a) make change for the well-dressed gentleman who wants to buy your $15 CD NOW!, but has nothing smaller than a 50; and (b) amuse the four year old with the cotton candy who wants to grab your strings.
"We should treat facts with respect, for there are not many of them around." - James Kilpatrick
- Dulcimers progressively gain weight after heavy playing due to the accumulation of musical notes inside the dulcimer. You have no doubt noticed this after carrying your dulcimer around to festival jam sessions and playing for hours on end. After 6 - 8 hours of rest, the notes trapped inside the instrument will evaporate through the sound holes and the weight will return to normal.
- A 15/14 Hammer Dulcimer can slice 20% more cheese per hour than a 12/11.
- One method for telling a hammered dulcimer from a mountain dulcimer is to see which burns the longest. A modern variation could use Strawberry Pop-Tarts. Or you could warm up with Fun With Grapes
- The less destructive (and older) method is to drop one instrument (mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer) on the great toe of each foot. The instrument which inflicts the most pain is the hammered dulcimer.
Burning Questions (and Answers)
As a public service to dulcimists who are about to start playing "out" for the first time, I include some of the questions which you will, all too often, encounter from passers-by, and some possible answers you might use. Discretion being the better part of valor, you may just smile and wish you could use one of these answers.
- What is that thang, anyway? A: (Pick one)
- A Hammered Dulcimer
- A Homberg Doll Summer
- With mouth full, if you are eating lunch ...."A hamburg dogslammer."
- It's an acoustic synthesizer.
- An Industrial Strength Cheese Slicer (or French fry slicer, apple slicer, onion slicer, egg slicer)
- How long have you been playing? A: (Looking at watch) "About an hour and 35 minutes".
- Have you been playing dulcimer all your life? A: "Not yet."
- Do you play dulcimer for a living? A: "Times have been hard lately. I'm still driving last year's Ferrari."
- Did you make that dulcimer yourself? A: "Sure did! I started with a Steinway grand piano and a chainsaw." A2: "No. Actually, this was a grand piano, but I parked it in a bad neighborhood one night and someone stripped it."
- Is is hard to carry that thing? A: "I don't think so. Actually I just leave that to my roadies....Now that I think about it, they do use a fork lift to get it into the semi."
A2: "I never carry it. I just have dulcimers stashed around the country every place I want to play."
- How do you keep track of all those notes and strings? A: "Easy. I use wire cutters and cut off all the strings that have the wrong notes."
- Does it take a long time to tune that thing? A: "Only if it's out of tune." or, with a look of amazement, "You mean you can tune a dulcimer?"
- How long does it take to get a dulcimer in tune? (Pause reflectively) "Hmmm. No one really knows."
- Do you know, my Auntie Em has a dulcimer, but it has three strings and is hourglass shaped? "No. But hum a few bars and I'll fake it."
- How many hammered dulcimer players does it take to play "Soldiers Joy" (or "Golden Slippers")? A: "All of them, apparently."
- How many mountain dulcimer players does it take to play "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" (or "Cripple Creek")? A: "All of them, apparently."
- Is that real music, or just something you made up? A: "Yes"
- Is that the dulcimer player's Porsche over there? No one will ask this, so you needn't worry about an answer.
Dulcimer Limericks on the folkstuff site.
Music instrument jokes. Monster collection, indexed by instrument.
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