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This month's Free
16th Century English folk tune
Photo by Vince Farsetta
In 2006, the dulcimer world lost one its greatest talents and advocates, David L. Schnaufer, to a battle with cancer. He left behind legions of friends, admirers, and inspired dulcimer players who mourn his loss, and celebrate his life. His music especially is in all of us who ever had the privilege of meeting him, hearing him, and learning from him, and his influence continues to spread as we continue to share what he taught us with others. For more about David's life, check out this "Remembering David" page. And here is a link to a wonderful article written about David written shortly before he passed away titled "Starry Lullaby", which was the title of one of David's original songs.
September was David's birth month, so once again, I am taking this opportunity to post an arrangement that was inspired by his playing. This month's tune is a 16th Century English folk tune called "Packington's Pound". David recorded this tune on his 1992 recording "Dulcimer Sessions". It has the haunting quality characteristic of many Aeolian (minor) mode tunes.
"Packington" is believed to refer to John Packington, who was a favorite of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. The title Packington's Pound refers to an incident in which Sir John built a pond, or "pound", which was ordered removed as it encroached on a public highway. He then cut through the walls and let the water flood the countryside.
The tune was thought to have been composed by the English lute player Francis Cutting, though more recent evidence suggest he may have merely arranged an older tune for his instrument. It has been used as the melody for countless ballads over the years. One of the most well-known uses was as the setting for a rather cynical song titled "Thus Gamesters United" from the 1728 satiric opera "The Beggar's Opera" by John Gay.
This is a 2-part arrangement, melody and backup. It is in the key of Am, which is accomplished out of D-A-d tuning by capo'ing at the 4th fret (although no capo is required to play the backup part). Find a playing partner and enjoy. I'm sure that David will be listening with a huge grin on his face.
Shortly after David's passing, his good friend Debbie Porter came up with an idea to honor his legacy, and keep his memory alive by creating the "Dulcimers for David" project. She solicited cuts from many of David's friends in the dulcimer world and put together 2 compilation CDs ("Dulcimers for David" and "Dulcimers for David, Too"). 100% of the profits of the sales of these CDs go to purchase dulcimers to present to young people who have expressed an interest in learning to play, but who may have no other means of getting an instrument.
Recently, through a generous donation, a limited number of copies of 2 DVDs that David had a hand in producing have also been made available to help raise funds for the "Dulcimers for David" project. The first is an episode of the series "The Nashville Nobody Knows" which features the Nashville Dulcimer Quartet, which was founded and directed by David. The DVD consists of interviews with David and the rest of the members of the quartet, along with clips of the group in a live performance.
The second is called "WAX", and is the story of the making of an actual wax cylinder recording of the Grand Old Dulcimer Club, led by David, including interviews with David, as well as the recording engineer Martin Fisher. As David remarks in an interview on the DVD, "It's pretty primitive .... but pretty cool!". You'll see the entire recording process using one of Thomas Edison's original wax cylinder recording machines.
These DVDs are $15 each plus shipping (while they last!), so get your copy today, and help support the "Dulcimers for David" project.