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July 05, 2006

A Dulcimer lay ....

Visiting the small town of Berea, Kentucky is fascinating, not least for the fact that it was established to help develop peoples skills in trades and art. Sometimes the two combine and you find yourself considering a skilled tradesman making musical instruments which he also plays and teaches.

Antique Dulcimers on display

The dulcimer is an instrument which enjoyed popularity among minstrels back as far as the 13th Century, probably having its origins in Italy or France. It is laid flat and played by fingering the strings (four of them) to the fret board while plucking the strings with the other hand. I have seen them played with either hand so it seems to be a matter of choice for the player! The sound is not unlike that of a violin played "pitzicato" or a guitar with a slightly strident voicing. The music is, however, extremely listenable and pleasant.

A modern dulcimer on sale with the 'teach yourself' playing kit laid out below. The wooden doll on the left shows how the instrument is held to play.

Those who enjoy "Bluegrass Music" played by bands from this area will have heard the instrument but may not have identified its unusual sound for what it is. An ancient instrument, still making merry music and with a growing band of players among the young.

Posted by The Gray Monk at July 5, 2006 11:03 AM

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My name is Terry and I found your website on the internet as I was researching Dulcimers'. I have a 1981 lap dulcimer handcrafted by dan and ethel doty 9/5/81. it is solid wild cherry wood with walnut inlay. I was wondering if you would be interested in buying it

Thank you very much,

Posted by: terry at July 25, 2006 07:20 PM

Thanks for the offer, but I can't play one so it would simply be a beautiful ornament - a waste of a lovely instrument!

Posted by: The Gray Monk at July 26, 2006 11:08 AM