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This month's Free
David Schnaufer and Herb McCullough - 1989
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 of one of his original tunes, "When Silence Was Golden". David originally recorded this tune on his 1989 release "Dulcimer Player", initially available only in cassette tape format. A few years later, he combined that with his other cassette tape album "Dulcimer Deluxe", and released them as a double-length CD titled "Dulcimer Player Deluxe". David was joined by Nashville virtuoso Mark O'Connor on fiddle for this achingly beautiful arrangement. In 2004, David was working on a compilation album project titled "Appalachian Picking Society", and used "When Silence Was Golden" as one of the cuts he contributed to that album.
David co-wrote the tune with his long-time Nashville song-writing partner, Herb McCullough. Those two wound up collaborating on quite a number of songs over the years, many of which David recorded, including "Starry Lullaby", "Twilight Eyes", and "Wait A Minute". When asked about the title, David would only say he was thinking about time in his past when he should have kept silent, but unfortunately, did not.
David liked playing this out of the key of A, which he accomplished out of D-A-d tuning by capo'ing at the 4th fret. The arrangement I've posted is in the key of D, so no capo is necessary. I actually like playing this tune on a baritone dulcimer tuned A-E-a, using the same tab, which puts it back in the key of A. The arrangement is best played in a flat-picking or finger-picking style. The places where the notes are in a small font in parentheses in the tab indicate that you should hold your fingers down on the strings at the frets indicated by the numbers in parentheses while flat-picking the individual melody notes indicated by the larger font tab numbers.
Here's a link to a YouTube video of the version of this tune that was included in the 2004 compilation CD project "Appalachian Picking Society":
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.