Tag: hammered dulcimer


Basia Bulat and the Pianoette – Great Song “The…

Basia Bulat – a Canadian singer/songwriter plays some very special instruments: the autoharp, ukulele, charango and the very special pianoette – a fretless zither from the beginning of the 20th century.

I have discovered Basia Bulat from some free concerts on the NPR site and a short feature about her autoharp playing.

But the most fascinating video that I have found is Basia Bulat with her song The Shore. In this song Basia Bulat plays the Pianoette, one of the rare kinds of fretless zithers that were invented during the first years of the 20th century. When I first saw the video I was really wondering how Basia Bulat could produce this fascinating sound with chords and even a tremolo sometimes with just one instrument.

The pianoette has a special mechanism to play chords with the left hand, while the melody is played with a little hammer that beats onto the double strings in the same way as the hammered dulcimer is played. It is even possible to play a kind of tremolo with the swinging hammer.

The pianoette produces a great sound, and makes this song to a very special one:

#16.1 Basia Bulat – “The Shore”

Wideosesja Basia Bulat with – a young Canadian with Polish roots.

In the Palace of Culture during a concert at the Cultural Cafe Basia promote their second album “Heart Of My Own.” With this album specifically for the Free the Music! played the songs “The Shore” and “Hush.”

HibOO d’Live : Basia Bulat “The Shore”

Playlist Basia Bulat

Additional Information

Homepage Basia Bulat:

concert by radio 3 (Spain) – great concert video – Basia Bulat plays the charango, autoharp, guitar, piano and keyboard.

Homepage about  the fretless zithers:

About the Osborne pianoette:

NPR concert – Sasquatch 2011: Basia Bulat, Live In Concert:

NPR Tiny Desk concert:

Basia Bulat: Making The Autoharp Cool:

My post abouth fretless zithers in Switherland (German – will be translated within the next days):

Related posts:


CD recommendation: Good Advice by Basia Bulat (amazon partnerlink)

favorite tunes

Under the Double Eagle – From an Austrian Military…

Under the Double Eagle (German: Unter dem Doppeladler) is a military march composed by Josef Franz Wagner during the last decades of the 19th century (probably around 1880). I have found a recording that was made on an Edison cylinder in 1899 on the archive.org site (see below).

Some years later around 1908 the famous Sousa Band of John Philip Sousa has made a recording of Under the Double Eagle on a 78 record. So this march became very popular in the USA, and today many people think that it has been composes by Sousa and not by the Austrian Josef Franz Wagner.

Zefren Presents the 1908 Under the Double Eagle with the Sousa Band

Im beginning to fancy the older records I come across. It is a known fact that John Phillip Sousa refused ever to conduct his band for a recording. His reasons may not be clear but I think there is one reason he may refused, and that is pride. When I recorded this recorded at 74 RPMs the recording time was about 2 minutes and 40 seconds. The playback was like the rushed almost impossible to play piece and Im using my experience playing in a brass band. I slowed the playback until I felt satisfied which was around 62 RPMs! If I was a conductor and recorded a piece at my satisfaction and then heard it played backed at a frantic pace I would probably not want my name to be sullied by the recording medium too. Victor would have had its customers play the record back at 78 RPMs. So even though Sousa wasnt there to conduct the spirit of his band lives on in this 1908 recording that was finally released by Victor in 1911.

You can find more historical recordings of Under the Double Eagle as youtube videos – I have added some of those to my playlist at the end.

Although this march was intended for a typical marching band it does also sound very nice if played with mandolins and guitars. I like the following recording by the french mandolin ensemble Ensemble a Plectre de Stiring-Wendel very much.

Sous l’aigle double

Marche composée par J.F. Wagner et arrangée par Ch. Feret. Interprétée par l’ensemble à plectres de Stiring-Wendel.

The melody of the second and third part of Under the Double Eagle can also be played very well on the guitar. I guess that recordings by Chet Atkins and Roy Clark have made this march popular for Country and Bluegrass music in the USA. Today it is played on all kind of instruments, including guitar, mandolin, banjo, accordion, hammered dulcimer and piano.

I have found many interesting videos and collected those in my playlist. My favorite mandolin version is played by Donna Stoneman:

Under the Double Eagle – Donna Stoneman: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvlMf_iurWk

Playlist Under the Double Eagle – Unter dem Doppeladler

Additional Information / Sheet Music

Sheet music from an Austrian site for two instruments: http://www.stammtischmusik.at/noten/unterdemdoppeladler.htm

Sheet music – melody and chords: http://www.dulcimers.com/tunes/under2.html

Sheet music – guitar TABs: http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/american-guitar-tab/under_the_double_eagle.htm

Sheet music for Piano –  Scan of an American edition (search for “double eagle”): http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/collection-search

Wikipedia about Josef Wagner (German): http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Wagner_%28Komponist%29

Wikipedia about Josef Wagner (Engl.): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Wagner_%28composer%29

Under The Double Eagle : Doc Williams and the Border Riders : Free Download & Streaming : Internet Archive

recording from 1899 (Edison cylinder) at archive.org: http://www.archive.org/details/edbw-19

favorite tunes

John Stenson’s #2 – A great tune for dulcimer…

One of the tunes in the long list of songs that I have downloaded from David Grismans Acoustic Oasis is John Stenson’s #2 played by the Aaron O’Rourke Trio.

Today I have listened to videos with this tune. I was lucky to find the following video with the Aaron O’Rourke Trio – played on mountain dulcimer, mandolin and bass:

John Stenson’s #2

Aaron O’Rourke Trio with Mickey Abraham and Mike Snelling
Killer mountain dulcimer, mandolin, & bass.
Progressive acoustic old time.

This tune is often played on a Appalachian (or mountain) dulcimer, but also on the hammered dulcimer as in the following video:

John Stenson’s #2 and Hangman’s Reel – Rockford, MI Concert

Rick Thum does a couple of his favorite tunes at the concert in Rockford, MI, November 2009. Ken Kaiser backed him up on guitar.

I have compiled the following playlist with many more videos of this tune, played on different instruments, solo or with a band, with mandolin and dulcimer, clawhammer banjo, or with fiddle and Irish bouzouki:

Playlist John Stensons

Sheet music:

You can find versions of John Stenson’s #2 on the following pages:

Mandozine: http://www.mandozine.com/music/search_results.php?searchfor=john+stenson&tuneselectby=C&mandolevel=&category=&songkey=&artist=&transcriber=&sortby=T&sortorder=A&submit=

Flatpicking Workshop: http://www.flatpick.com/lessons/january2009.html

The Session: http://www.thesession.org/tunes/display/1817

ABC notation: http://abcnotation.com/tunePage?a=www.banjolin.co.uk/banjolin12/music/tunes/abcs/stensons_2/0000

Additional Information

Homepage Aaron O’Rourke – Mountain Dulcimer: http://www.aaronorourke.com/

Acoustic Oasis  – daily free download of on song: http://acousticoasis.com/welcome.html