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Jen's Dulcimer Realm

History / Background

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Looking backward...

History of My Hobby


The mountain dulcimer has many names; Appalachian Dulcimer (from the Latin words "dolce melos" meaning sweet song) being one of the more common. Others being: fretted, lap, and hog fiddle.

The mountain dulcimer predecessors are the German Scheitholt, Norwegian Langeleik, Icelandic Langspil, Netherlands Humle and the French Epinette des Vosges. It's biblical cousin is the zither.

The early settlers being of German, English, and Scottish desendants were the first to build what we now call the mountain dulcimer. Some say the Scottish settler built it to emulate the bagpipes since the bagpipes were an instrument of war. Different builders gave the dulcimer the different shapes; the Tennessee music box being the most simplistic to build. There was the church dulcimer in a shape of a fish for the biblical symbol of the early Christian church. There are many shapes today with the hourglass and the teardrop being the most common. The mountain dulcimer can have anywhere from 3-6 strings; 4 being the most common.

The earliest mention of the dulcimer can be found in the book of Daniel 3:5, 7, & 15. (Depending on the translation, some say zither; which is a similar instrument.)

My Background

My dad first took me to the Non-electrical Musical Funfest in July 1991 in Evart, MI. I was amazed by what I saw! LOTS of people wandering about the fairgrounds, music everywhere. Crowded vendor booths. Tons of acoustic instruments; some home-made. I wandered into one of the vendor booths and looked at this odd instrument that my dad had told me so much about; it wasn't long before I fell in love. It had looked like a stretched out violin! The vendor then demonstrated how it was played; and the sound was beautiful! As we went off to the next vendor booth, I couldn't shake the thought of buying one, although that didn't happen until 6 years later. We stayed at the festival until late that night. My dad lived near by, so we didn't camp out. I got married the following year, and had forgotten about Evart and the festival until 1997. That was the last summer that I spent in Evart with my dad, he passed away a month later. It was also the year that he and I finally bought our first mountain dulcimers.

A couple of year had past before I could bring myself to going back to Evart. Now my husband and children enjoy going.

For God so loved the world
      that He gave
           His  only
                     that whosoever
     believeth  in Him
         should  not perish
     but have   everlasting life.
                          ~John 3:16


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