Dulcimer Instrument Appreciation

This installment of the Homegrown Music column is devoted to a review and appreciation of the dulcimer instrument.


| January/February 1981



067 dulcimer instrument

a dulcimer instrument and its key components look like this.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

Even homesteaders need to relax and enjoy themselves from time to time, right? And almost everybody these days wants to cut his or her cost of living. So how about a little do-it-yourself entertainment? 

That's what this column is about. Homegrown music... and sometimes homemade musical instruments to play it on. Even homesteaders need to relax and enjoy themselves from time to time, right? And almost everybody these days wants to cut his or her cost of living. So how about a little do-it-yourself entertainment?  


Dulcimer Instrument Review

Since this column began, I've often been asked to cover the subject of the Appalachian dulcimer. I've waited until now to do so, however, because I wasn't—until recently—either a dulcimer owner or player. Oh sure, I've tried the Instrument now and then, when I ran across one at somebody's house, but I never caught the bug.

In spite of that, when David Johnston and Rose LeClere (of Black Mountain Instruments) wrote and offered to send me one of their dulcimer-building kits—to help me become more acquainted with the instrument—I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

I've since discovered that there's a steadily growing group of dulcimer musicians becoming involved in American folk music today. And many of these "new" artists have been experimenting with—and stretching the limits of—the lap dulcimer's musical capabilities. After all, plucking simple single-note melodies is a good place to begin, but chances are that learning such advanced techniques as chording up the neck and finger-picking may prove to be even more rewarding.

So if you've decided to take up dulcimer playing, do think of it as an easy place to get started in string music ... but also set your sights on the horizon and keep truckin'. You'll find that a lot more is possible with the uncomplicated instrument than playing "Mary Had a Little Lamb"!





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