On August 23rd of this year, we lost one of the dulcimer world's most
incredible talents when David Schnaufer "slipped his earthly bonds" after a
mercifully brief battle with cancer. Though he was only 53 years old, his
contribution to the dulcimer world is incalculable. He was at the forefront of
the "revival" of the mountain dulcimer, and rekindled interest and widespread
respect for the instrument by demonstrating that it could be used to perform
everything from "Bach to Rock". His passion and dedication to the instrument
were infectious, and he leaves behind legions of grateful dulcimer players who
mourn his loss, and celebrate his life.
It's difficult to try and put into words just what David and his music, and more
importantly, his friendship, have meant to me personally. David is the reason I
play the mountain dulcimer, pure and simple. I heard his album "Dulcimer
Deluxe" in the mid-1980's, and immediately had a new-found respect for this
simple little 3-stringed box, and what it was capable of, in
the right hands. I
started "following him around" from festival to festival , taking as many
workshops from him as possible. The first one was at the Great Black Swamp
Dulcimer Festival in Lima, Ohio. As impressive as his music was, the thing that
really got my attention was his teaching method. All of his classes were always
"filled to overflowing", but the thing I noticed was that no matter how many
students were in the class, and no matter what level they were at, somehow he
was always able to "touch" each one individually, and give them something that
was just exactly what they needed at that point.
He had a deep and genuine respect for music, whatever genre, and for those who
made it, at whatever level, and for those who listened to it and appreciated it,
at whatever venue. At that same festival in Lima, during his set on the
mainstage concert, in front of perhaps 400-500 people, in the middle of some
speed-of-light fiddle tune, he suddenly stopped and told the audience that he
had just made a mistake. Though he knew that most were not even aware of the
mistake, it was important to him that everyone hear the tune the way it was
supposed to sound. With everyone's indulgence, he wanted to back up, "get a
running start", and try it again. And when he got to that point the second time
and "nailed it", a huge ear-to-ear grin came over his face - and the audience
burst into spontaneous applause. His great talent was matched only by his
humility. It drew us in, and inspired us.
The impact David had on the music world world in general, and the dulcimer world
in particular, cannot be overstated. But those contributions, as amazing as
they are, are dwarfed by the impact he had on the lives of all those with whom
he came in contact. His was a kind and gentle spirit, with a certain grace that
made all of us better human beings just by having the privilege of knowing him.
Anyone who met David even once for five minutes came away feeling as though he
was one of their best friends. And in truth, he was!
I have a vision of what some of those heavenly jam sessions must be like today.
I'm sure David has gotten together with Hank Williams (Sr), Chet Atkins, Roy
Acuff, Bill Monroe, Johnny Cash, Ray Charles, and Bob Wills - and also Thelonius
Monk, Mississippi John Hurt, and Jerry Garcia. And of course Bach,
Beethoven, and Mozart. He got to meet and play music with some of these folks
in this world, but even those that he did not, I can just see him going up to
them, sticking out his hand, and saying "Howdy, I'm David, and I play the
mountain dulcimer. Wanna pick some?" He's still paving the way for the rest of
us for when we get there.
(To read more about David's life, check out Kerry Coates' web site where she has
collected a number of articles about him:
birthday was September 28th, and so it is fitting that this month's tab is a
3-part arrangement of one of his original songs that he co-wrote with his
long-time friend and music collaborator, Herb McCullough. "Starry Lullaby"
started out as a song Herb was writing for his first grandchild, Ashley, shortly
after her birth. He wrote down one verse, and then put it aside for a while.
Some time later he was introduced to David, and the two of them started writing
songs together. Herb brought "Starry Lullaby" to David's Nashville apartment
one afternoon, and in a short time, the two of them completed it.
For a more detailed account of how Herb and David collaborated on this song,
check out this article on Herb's website:
David recorded this tune twice - once on the compilation CD "Dulcimer Player
Deluxe" as an instrumental, and later he included it on his "Uncle Dulcimer"
album, this time adding his own baritone vocals to it.
The basic melody can be played "drone style", fretting the middle
string only, but strumming across all 3 strings. I've also included
chord-melody and harmony arrangements.
I'm indebted to SFL Records (John Lomax III), and Herb McCullough for granting
permission to make this tab arrangement available.
"Play on, and play well".
David Schnaufer &
Sun makes room
for the moon to shine
As she watches oe’r the night
Mother earth puts her babes to sleep
With a kiss and a sta-a-ary lullaby.
Twinkle star light in the
Moon beams love to life
Angels dance the rings of Saturn
Sing you a sta-a-ary lullaby
girl in your baby bed
No need to fear the night
The stars are out to light your dream
And bring you a sta-a-ary lullaby
Nature’s child needs to rest a while
So close those sleep-y eyes
Tomorrow waits for you to shine
With the light of a sta-a-ary lullaby.
Words and music by David Schnaufer and Herb McCullough
Copyright © 1986, SFL Records
All Rights Reserved Used by permission
www.tullglazener.com Indianapolis, IN
printable copy of the introduction