Saturday, June 17, 2006

"No Wrong Notes"

Today I got to play - a Strumstick.

I'd never heard of one before. And just like that, I played it.

Literally, just took a hold of it and strummed a couple of times, put my fingers in a few spots on one of the three strings, and a tune came out.

And it's tiny. And it makes a big, likeable sound.

Wow.

12 comments:

H. Stallard said...

If I didn't know better I would say it was a banjo. But the more you listen the more you hear unique sounds that are unbanjo like too.

Laura said...

Banjo strings. A bit of a ukulele sound here and there, too, perhaps because of the size?

Eleutheros said...

It is in essence an Applachian Fretted Dulcimer made on the lines of a necked instrument rather than the usual tear drop or hour glass. The reason there are no "wrong" notes is that the frets that would play the semitones are missing thus making the scale diatonic. The two drone strings are tuned to the same key as the diatonic scale of the fretted string so it is impossible to play a note out of key.

Ah, but the ease of play is deceptive! Playing some tunes using the notes and drone stings can be complicated.

Hal said...

I think you should do "Hope Chest" on it. Sounds like a lot of fun Laura.

Laura said...

"Hope Chest"? On a Strumstick??! But-but-but-splutter - that tune's supposed to be spooky!

Say, Hal, do you stock Strumsticks at Sled Dog? Ruth wants to spend her babysitting money on one. I'd probably borrow it some, too. I just started teaching some beginner guitar lessons, and I'm curious about their suggestion of using the Strumstick as a pre-guitar beginner instrument.

Hal said...

No we don't stock them but I'm sure you can find someone who does. As for Hope Chest being spooky. The strum stick is tuned G D G. All you have to do is find the Bb on the octave G (i.e. G D Bb) and you're playing the Gm chord instead of a major. That would be pretty spooky sounding.

Laura said...

Spooky with a sense of humour - the tone would still be so cheery banjo-uke-ish! I was messing around with that tune on the electric guitar I got for James, and starting to like that sound. Maybe I'm just too literal. Wait - me literal? Maybe when it comes to music. In my writing, I seem to lose people by being so circumspect. Hmm.

Laura said...

Oh wait, there isn't a Bb on the G string, is there? I think that would be one of the frets that's omitted to protect you from wrong notes. Ease versus power.

Hal said...

Well that is possible, in which case you could bend a B note up to Bb. As for the strum stick sounding banjo-ish, there are some pretty spooky sounding banjo tunes. Think deliverance.

Hal said...

I just checked the strum stick site and you're right there isn't a Bb, but there is an Em, Am and Bm chord so you could do the song in that key instead. Minor keys rule!

Laura said...

Deliverance ... okay, here I display my lack of ... culture or years or something. I assume you're not talking about the Christian metal band. The movie? I was a teensy bit young for that, but I did some hunting for the soundtrack, and came up with a great-sounding Weissberg album. No spooky sounds in the samples, though.

Laura said...

Ah, now here's some spooky banjo. Robin and Linda Williams, Deeper Waters, "I'll Remember You Love in My Prayers".

Hal, you could be onto something.

Trouble is, that's one of my "I-want-to-hear-somebody-else-
sing-this" tunes.