Play More of These Pop Songs on Your Dulcimer
We are back with even more pop songs that are perfect for stick dulcimer, strumstick, or Seagull Merlin. If you missed the first list, go back and check out these pop songs to play on dulcimer too, but before that here are three major pop songs by a British diva, a Puerto Rican rapper, and an Amphibian:
This now icon-level British artist's first album debuted in 2008 with critical acclaim. At just 19 years old (and also the title of that album), Adele erupted on the scene and has been captivating listeners ever since. Now holding countless awards (including 15 Grammys, a Golden Globe, and an Academy Award) and millions of album sales worldwide (48 million and counting), she recently released a phenomenally vulnerable new album called 30.
But we can’t forget this massive ballad from her previous 2015 album, 25, that seemed for a moment to bring us all together (like this hilarious Saturday Night Live sketch parodied). You too can please the masses by learning to play "Hello" by Adele on a stick dulcimer. In this video, the chords are laid out in the same manner that they are used.
The contemporary rap musical, Hamilton, took America by storm as no other musical theatre show has ever done. Not only is it just such an amazingly creative way to tell the story of the founding fathers and the history of the United States, but the music will also completely blow your mind. From the downbeat of the show, the opener "Alexander Hamilton" exemplifies the rhythms and dense lyrical content that continues throughout the entire musical. Lin Manuel Miranda, who also wrote In The Heights and the music of Disney’s Moana and Encanto, is quite the musical genius.
Learn "Hamilton” in this video so you can play it on your strumstick, dulcimer guitar, Seagull Merlin, or even pickin' stick dulcimer. The tutorial is for a D-tuned instrument, but if you place your fingers where I am on a G-tuned one it'll work (just in G, not D). And if you’re not throwing away your shot and want to play along with the recording you can: the song is in B minor, which is the natural minor of a D-tuned dulcimer guitar.
If we’re going to talk about living pop culture legends, can you be bigger than the iconic it’s-not-easy-being-green frog named Kermit? Jim Henson first introduced us to the Muppets in 1955, and decades later the Muppet characters are still beloved by kids (and kids at heart) today. Kermit the Frog made this song popular in the 1979 "The Muppet Movie," but others have also largely assigned it to Willie Nelson. And although there are already so many songs about rainbows, the writers, Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher, won an Academy Award for this one.
So now you can be a Muppet, too! Start with the "Rainbow Connection" 1-Finger - Pickin' Stick Music / Strumstick video. This version is intentionally stripped down to just the 1-Finger chords so anyone can play it. In the more advanced option of "Rainbow Connection" on a Pickin' Stick / Strumstick, this version is more involved including an added lick in the intro as a picked part, instead of implied, and full “chording” all of the chords. Note that in the video, I didn't necessarily stick to a given set of inversions, as I figured most people would want to see options and sort out which versions they liked the best.
In reality, this “simple song” is a pretty complex tune, with a minor 3rd progression and a major 6th in the chorus, as well as most versions including a half-step key change (spoiler: you can't do that on a dulcimer, folks!). But it’s worth it for the lovers, the dreamers, and you.
Jonesing for more pop tunes? Make sure you go back to part one of our pop song series. And if you didn’t see your fav pop song on the list, tell us and we’ll include it next time!