Old Joe Clark
Arranged for Mountain Dulcimer Players

Video 1

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VideoAbout the Lessons

1. Demonstration of the Tune
in D-A-d
This tune is a favorite in Old-Time Jams and among dulcimer players. Steve demonstrates, playing in D Mixolydian. (Modal)
2. D-A-d Tuning, Part A Steve teaches the first part of this tune.
3. D-A-d Tuning, Part B Now that the first part is under our belt, Steve shows us the second part.
4. D-A-A Tuning By playing the bass string of an instrument tuned DAA, we can still play the tune in Mixolydian of D!
5. A-E-a Tuning for Baritone Dulcimer Outside of mountain dulcimer circles, Old Joe Clark is played as an “A Tune” or it lives in Mixolydian of A. Playing everything we’ve learned for the DAd tuning transfers directly to playing in AEa, if some old-time player calls for this tune in A…just jump right in on your baritone mountain dulcimer.
6. D-A-d Tuning, Capo 4 If you don’t happen to have a baritone instrument, you can still play in A by putting your capo on the 4th fret and playing the tune as taught here. (Visit the Capo Lessons in the Mountain Dulcimer Skills section for a more detailed discussion about using a capo.
7. E-A-A Tuning There is still another way to play in the Mixolydian of A: that is by re-tuning the bass string up from D to E and playing the melody on the melody string(s) with a nice solid drone in A and E.



Music GlobeExtras
  • History of the tune and legends about the person

  • There are about 90 stanzas in various versions of this song. The attached pdf document has only a sampling of the verses you can sing.

  • Watch this performance of Old Joe Clark by the string teachers in the Council Rock, Holland, school district. I like the contemporary flavor they added to this old tune.

  • Rhythm back-up tracks for Old Joe Clark

  • A common complaint about hammered dulcimer players is that they pound away the melody notes on every verse, and don't know how to give the lead over to other instrumentalists. Listen to thisperformance of "Old Joe Clark" by Bill Bosler on hammered dulcimer and Kevin Lockhart on guitar. Note Bill's technique of rhythmic back-up, lightly tapping chords when Kevin takes the lead on guitar. Also, Bill has dampened the sound with tape on his dulcimer.

  • Comment from Bill Bosler: "... Just a note to let you know that it's cool you use our version of Old Joe Clark to illustrate a point in one of your lessons. So many dulcimer players don't get that you don't always have to play melody and that not playing melody can be lots of fun sometimes. If you are ever up Michigan way, drop me a line and if I am ever down Texas way, I'll do the same. Thanks! Bill"

Old Joe Clark

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