minstrel: Re: minstrel-digest V1 #884

Paula bookwyrm at ureach.com
Fri Apr 21 23:06:59 PDT 2000

> ------------------------------
> From: "Greg Lindahl" <lindahl at pbm.com>
> Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2000 13:13:47 -0400 (EDT)
> Subject: Re: minstrel: new topic/psaltry
> > Do we know anything useful about the historic playing style 
> hammered
> > dulcimers?  To me, the modern playing style strikes me as 
being fairly
> > "evolved" and specialized
> Nothing is known. One technique you mention is bouncing the 
hammers; I
> avoid it mainly because it screams "modern" to me too. Another 
> is style of arrangement; if you hand a modern dulcimer player 
> pre-1600 melody, their instinct is to stick it over 
arpeggiated chords.
> There are very few instruments for which pre-1600 instruction 
> exist.
> - -- Gregory Blount
Do you two know that bouncing the hammers is a modern only 
technique or is that an assumption?  The reason I ask, is that 
I've ony been playing the hammered dulcimer a couple of months 
and one of the things I've had to learn is how not to bounce the 
hammers. Bouncing the hammers just happens if you hold the 
hammers just a little bit too loose. It is difficult for me to 
believe that an effect that is so easy to stumble across, but 
sounds pretty is only a modern technique. Perhaps it wasn't an 
established technique (assuming we have a way of knowing this), 
but surely someone else in history has had a natural tendency to 
hold their hammers too loosely rather than too tightly (like the 
rest of the class).

As far as the arpeggios go, its not surprising that a modern 
player without a music history background would not know that 
thirds and fifths were dissonants in the Middle Ages, especially 
since many hammered dulcimers players play by ear and don't read 
music. Would you consider all arpeggios accompliments modern? Or 
, in your view, would putting a root, fourth, and sixth (or 
octave) under the melody be period?  I was wondering about this, 
because I learning arppegio accompliments now (for the non-SCA 


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