The Mystery of the Mountain Dulcimer
From the hills and hollers of the Appalachian Mountains comes a stringed instrument with a sweet and haunting song: The Mountain Dulcimer. Although the facts of its origins are lost to history, it is widely accepted that the dulcimer came from Kentucky.
Many people believe, that the instrument had its origins with emigrants from Scotland and the British Isles who settled in the mountains. Missing the drone of the bagpipes, they developed a lap harp with a similar sound. Indeed, many of the old folk tunes of Appalachia carry a Celtic sound.
The name is derived from the Latin ("dulcis" meaning sweet) and Greek ("melos" meaning song). If you have not heard the sweet song of the mountain dulcimer, check out some of the videos on this lens and let me know what you think in the comments.
Black Mountain Dulcimers
Black Mountain Dulcimers have a good reputation for making a quality instrument. If you are looking for a well-made dulcimer, for either practice or performance, this instrument is a good investment.
This is the top of the line dulcimer made by Black Mountain.
Wildwood Flower on the Mountain Dulcimer - Played by Stephen Seifert
Stephen Seifert is one of the best dulcimer players in our day. In this video he is playing the traditional Wildwood Flower. Let me know what you think!
Mountain Dulcimer Poll
Did you like Wildwood Flower played by Stephen Seifert on the mountain dulcimer?
Jean Ritchie on the Mountain Dulcimer - Jean Ritchie Playing Shady Grover
I grew up listening to Jean Ritchie on the dulcimer. Here is a classic tune she played on Pete Seeger's Rainbow Quest. The show aired in 1965 and 1966, a time when American folk music was highly popular.
Mountain Dulcimer Poll
How did you like Jean Ritchie playing Shady Grove on the Mountain Dulcimer?
Humor on the Mountain Dulcimer - Susan Trump plays the Packrat Blues
Yesterday, my daughter and I attended a Dulcimer Festival in Richmond, Kentucky. Susan Trump was one of the guest instructors. Here she is playing the Packrat Blues, lest you get the idea that the mountain dulcimer is overly serious.
Mountain Dulcimer Poll
Did you enjoy Susan Trump singing and playing the Packrat Blues on the mountain dulcimer?
More Mountain Dulcimer Music
If you would like to listen to more beautiful music played on the mountain dulcimer, check out these recordings!
A compilation, by Susan Trump, of the top dulcimer masters of the 1990's with a range of styles from traditional to classical and pop.
There is also a Volume 2, which is available through Amazon.
Traditional Appalachian ballads and folk songs sung by the incomparable Jean Ritchie.
A very affordable dulcimer for a beginning student or anyone who wants to try out the instrument before making a larger financial commitment.
Try Out the Mountain Dulcimer - For beginners not ready to make a full commitment
If you think you might like playing the mountain dulcimer, but are not ready to make a full commitment to an instrument that costs several hundred dollars, try this model made of cardboard. Yes, cardboard!
I had the opportunity to play one of these cardboard dulcimers yesterday at a festival and was surprised at the quality of the sound, as well as the feel of the instrument. My only gripe with it was that it slides quite a bit on my lap. I felt it slid more than the wooden one.
Of course, if you want a high quality instrument, you know you will have to spend some money to get it. This cardboard number will not hold up in a comparison to a well-made dulcimer. But, for what it is, it is very good.
I had fun playing this instrument and feel very comfortable recommending it to a beginning dulcimer student or anyone who cannot afford to pay full price for a handmade wooden dulcimer. The quality is surprising for something made of cardboard! Not at all what I expected!
Mountain Dulcimers at eBay
Find a great deal on a mountain dulcimer on eBay!
Folkroots Mountain Dulcimer
If you are ready to make an investment in a high-quality instrument, I recommend the Folkroots Mountain Dulcimers. These are handmade in the USA and are of heirloom-quality craftsmanship. Each instrument is made individually and has a wonderful resonance.
In addition, the Folkcraft company backs their dulcimers with a lifetime guarantee.
I own one of these instruments and can attest to their high quality and rich, balanced tone.
I'm so glad you stopped by and hope you enjoyed these mountain dulcimers. Please leave a comment and let me know what you think, whether this is your first exposure to this traditional folk instrument of Appalachia or you are a dulcimer master. I would love to hear your thoughts and memories of the mountain dulcimer!
© 2011 Frischy