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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Grief, Music, and Memories

The other day for some odd reason I was drawn to my mountain dulcimer that I hadn’t touched in four years.  I’ve never been able to play anything more than a few easy children’s songs but I love the sound under my fingers. My son, Robert, could play the mountain dulcimer and hammered dulcimer wonderfully; he composed lovely songs for both instruments.  While in high school, Robert competed in the National Hammered Dulcimer championship and placed in the top five.  He always said he wanted to go back and win the whole thing—and I bet he would have.

I was grappling with trying to tune the darn thing because, well, I have no musical ability, no tuning fork or electronic tuner—and I have a tin ear.  Robert could naturally “hear” when an instrument was out of tune; he got this genetically from his musically-gifted father.  I guess I inherited my mother’s love for music but not being able to carry a tune—even in a bucket! I’ve always needed someone to tune the dulcimer for me and then I can play my great repertoire of hits like “Incy, Wincey Spider” and “Boil them Cabbage Down.” 

 I decided to check on YouTube to see if there were any dulcimer tuning videos and there were plenty.  It was still difficult for me and I got frustrated with the whole thing.  I started browsing around at other videos and came across one called “Twilight Eyes” sung by Cyndi Lauper who plays the mountain dulcimer.  In fact Cyndi has said that she composes her tunes using the mountain dulcimer; pretty cool for a rocker chick.  Anyhow the video is a moving tribute to David Schnaufer, an excellent mountain dulcimer player, who died from cancer in 2006 at the age of 53. 

I was familiar with David and his talent but somewhere I had missed that he had died the same year as Robert.  That probably has something to do with me not remembering much from that time period. David’s death happened four months after Robert’s tragic accident and only six months before my mother died.  I listened to the video and it is a haunting tune and the pictures are placed so nicely with the music.  It is a song about loss and love that Cyndi wrote.  Give it a listen and I hope you enjoy it too. 


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