minstrel: appalachian dulcimers...again
mn13189 at WCUVAX1.WCU.EDU
mn13189 at WCUVAX1.WCU.EDU
Wed Dec 24 07:04:39 PST 1997
On Mon, 22 Dec 1997, William and Scianna Augustine wrote:
> A friend of mine has an Appalachian dulcimer, and asked me if it could
> be considered a period instrument. I remember some discussion on that
> point over this list several months ago, but have deleted the pertinent
> references. Would someone out there help me answer her query?
I have done a bit of research on this myself. In fact, at a recent Bardic
Collegum, I taught a class on beginning lap dulcimer playing (this is a
dulcimer... these aare the strings... these are frets...). One of the
handouts I prepared for the class was on "Period Equivalents of the Lap
Dulcimer." If you can wait until after Xmas, I will post that hand-out
here. In the meantime, just for a teaser, I will let you know that the
"Appalachian Dulcimer," in the form that we see it most commonly today
(hourglass shape, 4 strings, fretted), is not period, but there are
anscestors of the dulcimer that do fall within our period. Most of these
come from Eastern European areas, with names like hummle, schietholt, and
a few others with names I can't possibly begin to try and spell withough
my handout here.
There is a misconception that the lap dulcimer is Scotch-Irish in
origin, since it is most popular in the areas in America settled by the
Scotch-Irish immigrants (southern Appalachia, Ozarks). In fact, the
Scotch-Irish picked it up from the Pennsylvania Dutch. It is an
Eastern-European instrument in origin, and you will not find one native to
the British Isles.
I have seen period forms of this instrument for sale at Pennsic
(what *isn't* for sale at Pennsic?), but the closest thing to a period
dulcimer I have seen for sale commercialy in a mundane place of business
was something called a "beginers dulcimer." It was smaller than a regular
dulcimer, had 4 strings, like a modern dulcimer, but had a rectangular box
shape, like a shietholt.
Like I said, after Xmas I'll post my handout here and hopefully be
a little more coherant. In the meantime, tell your friend that I would
say you could get away with playing a modern lap dulcimer at events (it is
probably just as close, if not closer, to a period form of dulcimer than a
guitar is to say, a lute). And just a hint, in my experience, the Dorian
tuning on the dulcimer works real nice for most period tunes (Mixolydian
is nice to try, too).
Stay tuned for more....!
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