Su La Li
For Hammered Dulcimer Players in A minor
Taught by Steve Eulberg

Video 15 - Steve's Arrangement

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VideoAbout the Lessons

1. Demo This tune was written for preschool children by Bonnie Wright, and is taught all over the world by Music Together teachers. Here Steve demonstrates the melody for us in different octaves and shares the simple lyrics.
2. Chords This song is written in A minor with just a few chords - A minor, E7, D minor, and A7.
3. Adding a Bass Line In this video, Steve adds a simple bass line by striking the root note for each chord above. He is playing the melody with his left hammer, and strikes the bass line with his right hammer along the bass bridge. This technique is good for practicing hand independence.
4. Bass Line Options Here Steve simplifies the bass line even further by dropping one chord change, and only playing the bass note once for each chord change.
5. 6th Harmony Steve teaches us a simple way to find the harmony a 6th tone below. From any string on the right side of the treble bridge, just go across to the bass bridge and down one string - and you're there! This pattern also works playing 6th harmonies on the right and left side of the treble bridge.
6. 6th Harmony Answer If playing both strings together seems difficult at first, you can separate the notes by leading with the melody tone, and answering with the 6th harmony.
7. Harmonizing a Lower
Octave Melody
First Steve explains the issue with playing a 6th tone above a lower octave melody. Instead he creates a very nice harmony by playing a 3rd above the melody.
8. Answering a Lower
Octave Melody
Here Steve leads with the melody in a lower octave, and answers with the bass notes we learned about in Videos 3 & 4, and finishes with a beautiful arpeggio.
9. Mapping the Chords Steve has given the chords nicknames that are easy to visualize and remember - the Utah pattern, the Ladder pattern, and the T pattern. Check them out!
10. Using 3 & 4 Note Chords This time, Steve plays the melody with rolling chords added. He uses the 4 note, Utah pattern chord, only at the beginning and the end.
11. Which Hand First? Steve normally plays the Utah pattern chord leading with his left hand, and the triangle shape chords leading with his right hand. However, this is not written in concrete. You should start a arpeggiated chord using the hammer that results in the best accuracy for you. (An arpeggiated chord is a chord played as a series of ascending or descending notes.)
12. 4-Note Chords Another way to play this tune is to use ALL 4-note chords. Steve adds a couple of new nicknames for his chord shapes - a horseshoe and a bowtie!
13. Octaves A more challenging hand separation exercise is to play the melody using parallel octaves. If you want to really stretch your dulci-skills, learn to play the melody line separated by not one, but by two octaves.
14. Higher Octave Steve has an extended dulcimer with a few more notes than most of us have and, using the Karen Ashbrook tuning, he is able to play the melody one more octave higher.
15. Make Your Own Arrangement In the final video, Steve talks us through his own arrangement, implementing all the techniques taught in this lesson - plus a few.

PDFSheet Music

  • Melody Alone
  • 3rd Harmony Above
  • Hand Separation, Simple Bass
  • Hand Separation, 6th Harmony
  • Hand Separation, Octave Above
  • Hand Separation, Octave Below
  • Hand Separation, Octave Answer
  • 3 and 4-Note Chords
  • 4-Note Chords


  • Melody Alone
  • 3rd Harmony Above
  • Hand Separation, Simple Bass
  • Hand Separation, 6th Harmony
  • Hand Separation, Octave Above
  • Hand Separation, Octave Below
  • Hand Separation, Octave Answer

Music GlobeExtras

  • Su La Li was composed by Bonnie Light for Music Together, an internationally recognized music program for children from birth through age 7. It is a classic example of a “song without words.” Songs that are sung just using syllables are fun to share with young children for two reasons:Music Together

1.Children who have not yet learned to speak can still sing along.
2. Children can enjoy the musical experience without having to focus on words.

While this song is lovely using just the syllables “su la li,” children will also get a kick out of singing their own names or the words “I love you” instead.

  • In this audio recording, Su La Li was performed by two six-year old students. The accompaniment was created using a Roland V-Accordion.

    The clarinet solo was played on a Ridenour hard rubber clarinet.
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