Fun with French Tunes on Mountain Dulcimer
Peter Tommerup

Many dulcimer enthusiasts enjoy playing American and Irish fiddle tunes. Traditional French folk dance tunes, on the other hand, are a largely undiscovered musical treasure trove that sounds great on the mountain dulcimer. Consisting of waltzes, mazurkas, bourrees, schottisches and polkas, "French trad" (as it's called) is often easier to play on the dulcimer than the more familiar reels and jigs of Anglo-Celtic tradition. These French tunes are also upbeat, very distinctive, beautiful and fun to play! To explore this music and learn a beautiful French waltz before coming to the workshop, check out Peter's article on this topic:

This workshop is aimed at intermediate dulcimer players, but beginners or potential players can also pick up much that is useful. We'll be tuned to the popular "DAD" tuning, and will work on 2 or 3 tunes that are set in a "chord-melody" playing style. The tunes will be written up in standard music notation as well as in dulcimer tablature. To play with us, you'll need to bring a dulcimer that can be tuned to DAD. If possible, please try to tune up before the workshop, so we can spend more time playing.

Over the past 34 years, Peter has arranged hundreds of tunes for the dulcimer, taught them to hundreds of students, and evolved a playing style that creatively expands on the dulcimer's traditions. He's done field collecting from traditional dulcimer players in Appalachia, studied with creative California interpreters of the instrument in the 1970s, and researched dulcimer traditions while completing a Ph.D. in Folklore and Mythology at UCLA. Peter's fascination with the dulcimer has led him to record 2 CD albums, develop a dulcimer instruction method for Kicking Mule Records and publish several articles. He is currently working on two new dulcimer repertoire books on French and Celtic tunes. When he isn't teaching dulcimer, he can be found playing it for contra dances, leading Irish traditional music sessions, and performing traditional French, Irish and Appalachian dance music. Peter also co-founded, teaches and performs at Redwood Dulcimer Day – Northern California's only dulcimer festival – in the Santa Cruz Mountains in late July. It's a wonderful event; please check it out:

Peter has also been dubbed the "patron saint of hummingbirds." To find out why, watch this: