A quick "advisory" regarding the format of this tablature. It is not so-called "standard dulcimer tab". An explanation of the format is available at TAB.
Stephen C. Foster (1826-1864), sometimes called the "father of American music", was the pre-eminent songwriter in the United States during the 19th century. His songs remain popular over 150 years after their composition. Many of his songs, including those linked here, sound almost like they were written by Foster with the dulcimer in mind:
- Angelina Baker (1850).
- Camptown Races (1850).
- Two (2) versions of Hard Times, Come Again No More (1854).
- Nellie Bly (1850).
- Two (2) versions of Oh, Susanna (1848).
Blind Irish harper Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1758) composed many beautiful songs. Two (2) that adapt wonderfully to the mountain dulcimer are:
Many traditional American fiddle, banjo, guitar and/or mandolin tunes - that are in the public domain - are particularly well suited for the mountain dulcimer. Here are just a few:
- Two (2) versions of Barlow Knife.
- Cripple Creek
- June Apple.
- Old Joe Clark.
- Ragtime Annie.
- Soldiers' Joy.
- Suzanna Gal.
- Buck-Eyed Rabbit.
- Two (2) versions of Flop-Eared Mule.
- A two (2) tune Medley of Gray Cat on a Tennessee Farm and Old Molly Hare.
- Two (2) versions of Spotted Pony.
There a several "anthems" of countries or states that play very well on the mountain dulcimer. Here are a few:
- Bonnie Lassie, aka "Scotland the Brave", a patriotic song considered by many to be the "unofficial" national anthem of Scotland.
- "Hatikvah", which means "hope" in Hebrew, is the national anthem of Israel. In 1888, Samuel Cohen, an immigrant from Moldavia, based its melody on a musical theme in Smetana's "Moldau" that is partly based on a Scandinavian folk song. Its lyrics were written by Naftali Herz Imber (1856-1909), who moved to Palestine in 1882 from Galicia. Two (2) versions of "Hatikvah" are offered here: one is simply strummed and the other includes lyrics.
- Rocky Top, written by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant in 1967, is one of Tennessee's seven official state songs.
The term "Honnfeiv" has two (2) related meanings. First of all, it is the name of a folk dance common to Namdalen, a traditional district in the central part of Norway. Secondly, it is one of two (2) titles of a Norwegian dance tune, the other being "Honnefeiven". The tune itself, according to Norwegian folk musician Johan Nagelhus (1885-1971), is a variation of Soldiers' Joy. Though a bit more of a challenge on the mountain dulcimer than “Soldier’s Joy”, you will likely find that Honnfeiv is well worth the effort.
Most of the songs cited above are quite old. That is not to say, however, that the mountain dulcimer is not appropriate for newer music. Many modern tunes have been written, some specifically for the mountain dulcimer, and others which "fit" well on the this instrument's diatonic scale. These include: