Arranging tablature


How to Use the 1-3-5 Learning Aids


For nearly two years we have posted monthly tab arrangements for many kinds of music, using the 1-3-5 tuning. We hope folks have now learned to appreciate what this tuning can do, while discovering the beauty of the new “color chords” it offers.


 One of our goals has been to encourage readers to try out this tuning in making their own arrangements of favorite tunes. To make that a bit easier, we have included a series of “Learning Aids” on our website, showing the locations of notes and chords on dulcimers tuned in various keys. Some of you have told us you have been planning to try some arrangements of your own, while others seem hesitant about how to go about it. It would be difficult to try to write a manual, describing all details about how to arrange music for the dulcimer. Instead, we decided to undertake a project that shows examples of music we have selected for future use on our website, showing our approach.


Below we list two tunes in the early stages of arrangement.. Both have been checked to be certain they can be played on the three-string dulcimer in the key that is shown, using a D-F#-A tuning (how we determined this is the subject of another lesson).


For each tune, we show all the notes for the melody of the song (chorus only), plus the key and the time signature selected. This is the starting point for each arrangement. To give you a bit of a start, we have also shown our choices of chord accompaniment and tablature for the first line only. 


For those of you interested in trying your hand at arranging, your first job will be to assign fret number and location to all melody notes, using the fretboard diagrams in the Learning Aids section of our website.  Notice that some notes are found in more than one location. Always try to select the location that is easiest to reach, or that permits the easiest fingering.


Your next assignment is then to decide what chords should be used to accompany the melody, and where to place them. For this, you may use the "D-F#-A Chord Table". Note that this table lists chords by their locations on the treble string of the dulcimer (highest note of the chord). Notice also, however, that melody notes sometimes do not fall on the treble string! Where the melody note occurs on the middle string, we must often use “two-note” chords, or “intervals” as harmony. Both of the following tunes show examples of this in their first lines. They are actually portions of three-note chords. Be sure to enter the tablature numbers for chords as well as melody notes. While most of your chord selections may be ordinary majors or minors, (the usual I, IV, V or ii, iii, vi chords) some tunes may sound better with other choices. Try them and decide for yourself. You may also want to look at music selections now in the Archives to see how chords have been used elsewhere.


If you encounter any problems, or need help or advice, email us at the “Contact” addresses on our Home Page. We would also like to hear about your results!! Good Luck.




GrayBonnet_ chorus.pdf


GrayBonnet_ chorus.MID


Peggy O'Neil chorus.pdf


PeggyO'Neil chorus.MID



  Click to go to the TablEdit website and download their free demo version

If you do not have the Tabledit program, please click on the TablEdit banner to download a free .tef reader program.  It includes the ability to play this song at a slower speed (great for learning). TablEdit is a program for creating, editing, printing and listening to tablature and sheet music (standard notation) for fretted, stringed instruments.

  Click here to download a free version of Adobe Reader

Adobe® Reader® is a free software for viewing and printing Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) files.


At this time we will be using the .MIDI music files produced by TablEdit..





This website is brought to you by Merv Rowley,
Ruth Randle, Elizabeth DiPietri, Suzanne Campling and Gail West
Please email with any website questions, broken links, etc.
Copyright © 2006 GMW MarketingPLUS