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.)