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Archive No Ordinary Home on the Range 1-3-5 mountain dulcimer arrangement by Anna Barry copyright 1983 available www.mountain...


No Ordinary Home on the Range


Original words and music

by B. Higley & D. Kelley


Harmonized and arranged for dulcimer by Anna Barry ©1983


Everyone remembers Home on the Range, and most have sung it around campfires long enough to consider it an American folk song. In fact, it was first published in 1885, with lyrics and music by Brewster Higley and Daniel Kelley. It’s popularity stems from its simple melody line and lovely lyrics about America’s unspoiled West of that era.


The arrangement offered here is by Anna Barry, a lovely lady now living in North Carolina with husband Tom, her children and grandchildren. Anna is remembered as a long-time teacher in that area, and as an early arranger of dulcimer music using innovative tunings. Her book Soundings, from which this selection is taken, was first published in 1983. It was one of the first in which the 1-3-5 tuning was used.  To enhance the harmony of the accompaniment, Anna selected many of the “color chords” offered by use of 1-3-5. The result was No Ordinary Home on the Range.


Anna has recounted her first experiences with the dulcimer, and how she discovered the 1-3-5 tuning:


“In 1978 I was listening to a local radio station and heard Maddie MacNeil singing with dulcimer accompaniment. I thought if a dulcimer sounded like that, I MUST learn to play one. There was a later announcement of a dulcimer class to be held in Annandale, and to call Keith Young for details. When I called to enroll, I told Keith that I had no dulcimer, but he, of course, was one of the early builders, and had one for sale. Without any questions I said, “I’ll take it!”  Imagine my surprise when I found that my teacher was going to be Maddie herself! That class was the beginning of a love affair with the Appalachian dulcimer and two special life-long friendships, with Maddie and another pupil, Linda Nachtrieb.


Other most helpful friends I met through the class included Ralph Lee Smith, Keith Young, and Mark Blair. One evening Howie Mitchell came to town and was invited to perform for our class. For one of his songs, Howie said he was playing in his “NBC” tuning. I could not remember later what the notes were, or if Howie had said, but, today, I think of NBC as 1-6-4. At that time, when I tried to find the notes on the piano, I sounded 1-5-3. After experimenting with all sorts of fret combinations, I ended up putting 1-3-5 on the strings. While trying to find “good” chords by ear, an electrifying moment came when I arbitrarily played a 6+/6+/7 chord and heard the beginning of ‘Without a Song’.(1) From that one chord, I worked out all the rest, for one of the loveliest songs ever written. After doing other show tunes, I began to think of songs in the public domain, wondering if they might be harmonized with the same 1-3-5 chords. No Ordinary Home on the Range was one of the first such tunes I arranged.”



Notice that two chords appear in the third line, measure three (1/x/3 and 2/x/3). These are played by “pinching” the notes on the bass and treble strings only.  For those who choose to play with a flatpick, it’s OK to play only the notes on the treble string.


(1)   “Soundings”, Anna Barry ©1983, p. 4



Home on the Range

Written By: Brewster Higley

Music By: Daniel Kelley




Oh, give me a home where the buffalo roam

Where the deer and the antelope play

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word

And the skies are not cloudy all day



Home, home on the range

Where the deer and the antelope play

Where seldom is heard a discouraging word

And the skies are not cloudy all day


How often at night when the heavens are bright

With the light from the glittering stars

Have I stood there amazed and asked as I gazed

If their glory exceeds that of ours




Where the air is so pure, the zephyrs so free

The breezes so balmy and light

That I would not exchange my home on the range

For all of the cities so bright




Oh, I love those wild flow'rs in this dear land of ours

The curlew, I love to hear scream

And I love the white rocks and the antelope flocks

That graze on the mountaintops green



Mountain Dulcimer Tablature Arrangement created in TablEdit by John Sackenheim


This tablature is available in the following formats:



No Ordinary Home on the Range


Adobe .PDF

No Ordinary Home on the Range (lg)


No Ordinary Home on the Range (sm)

No-Ordinary-AnnaBarryBook-c.jpg (138521 bytes)Printable Webpage (.JPG Format)

No Ordinary Home on the Range (lg)

No Ordinary Home on the Range (sm)


Midi File:  Produced from TablEdit

No Ordinary Home on the Range

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