Galax Dulcimer by Phyllis Gaskins is an amazing book! First of all it's beautiful to look through, and the included CD is a wonderful experience in listening, learning and playing along. With full-color photos and a riveting narrative the book simply cannot be put down until read and perused from cover to cover.
Phyllis has collected pictures and stories about dulcimers and especially, dulcimers from the Galax region of Southwest Virginia, for almost 50 years and has finally taken the time to share her vast experience and knowledge for the huge benefit of her fans, students, and fellow musicians. She joined forces with Brent Holl at Beatin' Path Publications to finally publish her story and her music.
Galax Dulcimer is a storybook, a photo album, and a historical document all in one. The history section tells the story of her relationship with various dulcimer players/builders in the Galax tradition including, Raymond Melton and Ben Seymour. Some of the original plans for building dulcimers are included an look as though they've been taken from the original sketchs. There is even an X-Ray image of the unique construction of the inside bracing of a Galax dulcimer.
There are 42 songs notated in authentic Galax style using Phyllis's own unique tablature. The strumming pattern she uses is a distinct style with the strong beats strummed toward your body. Her tab shows exactly how to play the tunes and what strumming strokes enable the tunes to be played in the authentic style. Wow! Passing on the history and style of this amazing music like this is an incredible gift.
The audio CD is professionally produced at BeArcade Productions in Port Republic, VA and can be enjoyed by listening, but is intended as a teaching tool for playing along. Phyllis has played each tune slowly once and then twice up to speed. It's an excellent way to learn these old time tunes.
If you're not a dulcimer player you can enjoy the stories and history, and then play all the tunes on your violin, banjo, mandolin, or any other instrument of your choosing. Her website has a nice slideshow and preview to see and listen to her music.