Thanksgiving Playlist: A Gift to You

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

You can listen to these original songs by clicking or pressing Enter on the Play button below, or by clicking on the one you’d like to start with.

No matter how you celebrate, I simply pray that you do, and do so earnestly, honestly, and joyfully!

Introducing Ripply: Zither Review with Audio

This is a review of a zither, a musical instrument sometimes called a plucked psaltery or lap harp. This one was made by James Jones of
James Jones Instruments.

Here is the video James made of his 2-octave models.

Ripply, as I call her because of the beautiful sound, is my personal, custom made instrument. I’m sharing this review to demonstrate this wonderful zither, not for any compensation. So with all that said, here we go!

Audio Samples

To get right to some original songs and other demos, you can listen to this playlist. Press Play to listen straight through, or click on a track to go directly to that one.

Instrument Shape

As a blind musician, I sometimes have trouble picturing instruments if I can’t hold them in my hands. I apologize in advance if my description deepens any confusion for others!

The zither has a flat soundbox that is a trapezoid shape. If you’ve ever held a lap harp with song sheets that slide under the strings, played flat on your lap, this is the same shape, only larger.

The longest side runs parallel to the longest, lowest strings. On this instrument, it’s about 19″ long. This is the largest dimension on this zither.

The shortest side runs parallel to the shortest, highest strings. It’s about 10″ long.

The 2 remaining sides are the same length and run on an inward, upward slope from bottom to top. These sides are about 11″ long.

The instrument depth (back to front) is around 3″ including the pins.

This might sound like a large instrument, but the longest reach for strings, from string 1 to 22, is only about 11″. I can pick up the instrument with one hand, and even play it cradled in one arm. Considering the 3-octave range, this is a very compact size.

Materials

The instrument has a top or soundboard, over which the strings run, the sides as described above, and a back, which faces your lap if you play in that position.

James uses all solid wood, no plywood or laminates. This creates a sturdy, quality instrument that vibrates well, produces a consistent sound, and will last a long time if cared for properly.

On this instrument, the soundboard is spruce, and the back and sides are walnut. I could smell the wood when I opened the box. 🙂

With the long side toward you, there are 22 square, metal zither pins on the right side, one for each string. These are for tuning.

On the left side are 22 smaller, round metal pins. These are hitch pins that hold the strings in place. They are not used for tuning.

Moving inward from the pins, each side has a stationary wood bridge with a saddle. These determine the vibrating length and break angle of each string. That is, they keep the strings at the right length for tuning, and on the same plane for a smooth playing experience.

It’s hard to feel the soundhole in the top of the zither, but I managed to slide my little finger between the strings. The soundhole is kind of a 3-pointed star design I like very much.

Strings and Range

As I said, this zither has 22 strings, or 3 octaves. Most are smaller and have 15 strings for a 2-octave range. In scientific pitch notation, tuned in C the range is C6-C3. This means there are 2 octaves above Middle C, and one below. You can hear this in my scale sample. I requested this range specifically for playing original songs and chord-melody arrangements. The strings are steel, and those from C3-A3 are wound. Using steel strings rather than nylon, like a harp, means you can have a smaller instrument. A nylon-strung harp with this range of notes would be at least 28″ long, and it would be awkward to play horizontally.

Holding the Instrument

There are many ways to hold this zither! Here are just a few.

1. Horizontal on your lap, with bass strings toward you.

If you’re new to this or any instrument, this way is easiest. The notes get higher as you move away from your body.

2. Horizontal on your lap, with treble strings toward you.

This is how I usually play. It reminds me of playing harp, except it’s flat instead of upright. It’s also easier on the back and shoulders. I play with both hands, left hand bass and right hand treble.

3. Upright in one arm, playing with your dominant hand.

This makes me feel like a Bard. 🙂

4. With the back against your chest.

This position puts the strings in front of you, and you bring your hands inward toward them. It works well for therapeutic purposes or meditation.

Playing Techniques

You can play with your fingers like I do most often. You can play with a pick as in “Grant us Love” in the playlist. You can play with the tuning wrench, just like my “Scary Zither” clip. And yes, if you’re either bored or curious, you can play with a fork. Play with both hands or one finger. It really doesn’t matter, as long as you enjoy playing.

Getting in Tune

I will have other posts on tuning as a blind musician who does not have perfect pitch. Suffice it to say that the more strings you have, the more you have to tune. This is no easy task without an electronic tuner or a keyboard for reference pitches. But again, that’s another story for another time. Just know that if you can’t see and you choose an instrument like this, you had better have a tuning plan in place. And maybe you should have a plan A B C D E F G… Because you just might need them.

The Wrap Up

This is the perfect instrument for my purposes. What purposes? Well, mainly songwriting, meditation, sound healing, and accompanying poetry. It’s portable, very well crafted, durable, and fun to play. And for its size, the range and resonance are wonderful. I really chose it as a harp replacement, and it does that for me as well.

Thank you, James, for this beautiful zither!

The Magic of Music: One Universal Melody

The Magic of Music: One Universal Melody

by Frederick Douglass Grimes, III

With all of life’s trouble and turmoil in the world today,
It’s always nice to know, music can help take the pain away.

Music often times is so soothing to one’s ear,
Sensuous melodies, simple harmonies for all to hear.

Music will gently rock a baby to sleep with a sweet lullaby.
A song filled with memories will most certainly make us cry.

That spirited power of song arrangements composed so neatly,
The feeling that overcomes you is beyond your control.
It fills the heart with such joy
And eases one’s mind ever so sweetly.

Couples go out on a date;
Dinner, wine, and much food.
He brings her home and places on a song to set the mood.

Years down the line, after two people meet,
They still remember their first song
That had them dancing to the beat.

Music truly is universal in each and every land.
Music is eternal;
Strike up the band!
–The Blind Poet, Freddy G.

Power of a Song

by Dr. Crystal L. Grimes, Msc.D.

Someone Else’s Song

by Dr. Crystal L. Grimes, Msc.D.

Fretboards of Joy

A shiny chest of wonderment,
Of wishes and of dreams;
A brilliant box of hopefulness
And possibilities!

When soft inspiring breezes
Flutter magic strings,
They carry off my spirit
On clouds of melodies!

So thank you, bless-ed builders
For the joy your fretboards bring!


My response to Kim’s very interesting “Fretboard of Poetry” Quadrille prompt at
dVerse
and today’s
#Ragtag Daily Prompt #RDP #Breeze.

Other Musical Poems

First, because Kim lives near the coast:
Song of the Sea

Spirit of Music

The Music Inside

And, of course, the theme song of Mystical Strings ❤

You Still Have My Love

If you received this post by email, click the URL to hear this song.

Discernment is extremely important in all relationships. We use our discernment (judgement, sensitivity, enlightenment, discrimination, taste) in communication, behavior, speech, and of course, in choosing partners and the kind of relationship to have with them. Written in 2017, this song came out of that discernment for me. I ended that relationship, and Freddy and I became closer. We are married now, another positive discernment!

You Still Have My Love – Lyrics

1. I have feelings of sweetness for you
And all these dreams that I want to come true.
I have wishes, but I’m not confused.

Refrain:
I know that I can’t be your honey, honey,
But you still have my love.

2. Life happens, and people get hurt.
Tables turn, and relationships don’t work.
Looking forward, I am alert.
Refrain:

3. Love is a tree with fruits untold
And all the beauty of life to behold.
If we cut it down, love can’t unfold.
Refrain:

4. I have feelings that tell me to stay
And all these dreams that are gonna have to wait.
I have wishes, and I keep them at bay.
Refrain:

No, I can’t be your honey, honey,
But you, you still have my love.

More than I Should

If you received this post by email, click the URL to hear this song.

I wrote this song 2 years ago today. Not for a moment did I think I would be married by now! Freddy and I hadn’t even met in person yet… I’m glad I didn’t have a crystal ball, or I probably would have run the other way in terror. :-() Speaking from the other side as it were, not only does love conquer all, but when it really is love, it cannot be denied.

More than I Should – Lyrics

Refrain:
I think of you more than I should.
It turns me upside-down,
But uh huh, the world looks good.
You can’t ignore the facts,
And I admit that
I think of you more than I should.

1. I walk the halls.
I climb the walls,
And you know, I don’t get much sleep at all.
And when I do,
I dream of you,
And my smile doesn’t try to hide the truth.
Refrain:

2. I pace the stairs
And play musical chairs,
While I dance with thoughts of you beyond compare.
And it’s all right,
‘Cause I see the light.
Could it be love sent from above? Uh huh, it might.
Refrain: (Twice)

Uh huh, you’re good,
So I think of you much more than I should.

Savior

You save me from the people
Who know not what they do.
You save me from my enemies
Unconscious of the truth.
You save me from my sins,
Because I put my trust in you,
And may your Spirit lead the way
In everything I do.

You save me from this world of pain,
Because you know my good.
You save me from my wand’ring mind
That won’t rest as it should.
You save me from unworthiness,
Because in you, I could.
And may your Spirit light my path
And take me where you would.

You save me from a heart grown cold,
Because you know my past.
You save me from the worried times
That never really last.
You save me from each question,
For you answer when I ask.
And may your Spirit teach me well
And help me do your task.

You save me from a life of fear,
Because you’re here inside.
You save me from my own defeat,
Because you’re on my side.
You save me from the Hell I’ve known,
Because for me you died.
And may I let your Spirit lead,
My Savior, Lord and Guide!

Related

Saved!