What is a Mountain Dulcimer?

What is a Dulcimer? What Sound does it produce? What are Types of Dulcimers? How are they played? What are their Variations?
what is a mountain dulcimer

There are hundreds of musical instruments in the world. Music lovers sure did their best to leave a legacy that will last for ages to come. It is said that learning an instrument helps you keep calm and improves your mental health. So, since we are on the topic let me tell you today what is a mountain dulcimer. And not only this, but you will also get to know about what is a hammered dulcimer, what does a dulcimer look like, and what does a dulcimer sound like.

1. What is a Dulcimer?

It is a musical instrument that is trapezoid in shape with a sound box or a sound board. Strings of measured lengths are stretched over the sound box. It is played by plucking or with a hammer designed to play it. (See What is Kazoo?)

2. What does a Dulcimer look like?

A man playing the hammered dulcimer on street: what is a mountain dulcimer 3
Image by Th G from Pixabay

It is like a board more like a square-rectangle board that consists of wires. It is made up of fine wood like oak, pine, spruce, yellow poplar, etc. The body of the dulcimer is made from hardwood while the frets are made of a variety of items like ivory, silver, brass, steel, bones, etc. Its strings are made from the same material as the guitar strings.

3. What does a Dulcimer sound like?

As you know what does a dulcimer look like, let me tell you that the different dulcimers produce different sounds. It’s like the hammered dulcimer which produces a sweet and soothing sound. However, the type of sound produced depends on the type of wood used and its grain. The simple music is played by plucking or hitting one or two strings. The other two strings make a sound more like a bagpipe. (See What Does Gangnam Style Mean?)

4. What are the Types of Dulcimer?

Wondering what is a mountain dulcimer? Before you know that, note how the dulcimers are classified based on how they are played.  There are two ways to play the dulcimer. One is to hit it with the mallet hammer and the other is to pluck the strings with a pluck. Therefore, on these parameters, the broad category of the dulcimer is, namely Appalachian dulcimer and Hammered dulcimer. (See How To Sound Louder?)

5. What is a Mountain Dulcimer?

This dulcimer got its name due to its native players which belong to the Appalachian regions of the United States. It also contains 3 to 5 strings and has the appearance of a violin. The Appalachian dulcimer is known as the mountain dulcimer and by various other names like lap dulcimer, dulcimore, or fretted dulcimer. (See What Type of Instrument is a Piano?)

6. How to play a Mountain Dulcimer?

what is a mountain dulcimer 1

The easiest way to play a mountain dulcimer is to place it on your lap and pluck the strings. You need to fret the strings with one hand and pluck with another hand. However, it can be placed on a wooden table which will act like an extended resonator that will boost the volume. (See How Do You Play The Sitar?)

7. What type of Music is played with an Appalachian Dulcimer?

In America, a mountain dulcimer is considered a part of an old-time music tradition based on what does a dulcimer sound like. But modern musicians have discovered ways to produce modern music and combination music from it too. (See How to make Voice Sound Better?)

8. Where is a Mountain Dulcimer used?

There was a time when the mountain dulcimer was considered the instrument for older generations. But since it is easier to play and handle, younger generations have found it charming. These days music teachers prefer the dulcimer as an educational instrument. Some schools even have dulcimers made from cardboard. (See The History of Mariachi)

9. What are Variants of Mountain Dulcimer?

There are big and small varieties of mountain dulcimers. Wondering about its types after knowing what is a mountain dulcimer. The pitch produced by the dulcimer is affected by its size.

  • Baritone dulcimers: They are a large version of the original dulcimer, and they produce a low-pitched sound
  • Bass dulcimer: It is 4 feet long and produces high-pitched sounds
  • Piccolo or Soprano dulcimer: They are small and produce higher-pitched sounds. They are designed for kids
  • Courting dulcimer: They have one large body and two separate fingerboards which enable the person to play a duet with someone as the face of the fretboard in opposite directions
  • Double-neck dulcimer: It also has two fretboards facing in the same direction. It enables the player to tune the instrument multiple times without changing the instruments
  • Solid body electric dulcimer: It is powered by pickups.
  • Aquavina: It is a metal resonator that is partly filled with water to produce an eerie oscillation of the harmonics. (See 9 Facts about Organizing a Flash Mob)

10. What is a Hammered Dulcimer?

hammered dulcimer : what is a mountain dulcimer 2
Image by Th G from Pixabay

The term dulcimer is derived from the Latin word dulcis meaning sweet and the Greek word melos meaning song. This type of dulcimer is played with a mallet hammer in each hand by striking the strings. 

11. What is the Hammer in a Hammered Dulcimer?

The hammers are small spoon-like things that the players use to strike the strings to produce sounds. These hammers can be made mostly from hardwoods like cherry, oak, maple, padauk, etc. But nowadays, you can get a hammer made from plastic or metal too. Western hammers are stiff, but flexible hammers are used in Asia. It is different from what is a mountain dulcimer. (See What is the Best Spinning Top?)

12. How is the Hammer used?

As you have read what is a hammered dulcimer in the previous points, some of you might know that the player can leave the head of the hammer bare. This type of hammer will produce a sharp sound more like an attacking sound. But for a soft and mild sound, the head of the hammer can be covered with leather, fabric, or adhesive tape. Two-sided hammerheads are oval or round. And in this type of hammer one side is left bare, and the other side is covered. This technique helps the player to quickly switch between the sounds. (See What Tools does a Cobbler use?)

13. How is it held and played?

It is not played by holding in hand like a guitar, so precisely it does not look like a guitar. It is placed on a platform, like a table or something. Experts place it on their laps while playing. The little hammers designed to hit the strings are used to play, or the player can use a pluck to hit the strings. Also, check out how to play the trumpet for beginners?

14. What type of Music can be played with a Hammered Dulcimer?

As you are well are of what is a mountain dulcimer, you must have heard that the type of music produced with a dulcimer has a long list. Primarily folk music was played with the dulcimer but nowadays, musicians can make gospel, jazz, blues, classical, Cajun, along with rock and roll. Also, check out the best way to listen to music on the go.

15. Where is a Hammered Dulcimer used?

A dulcimer is considered the instrument of Hungarian gypsies and is mostly used in concerts. Due to its 4 chromatic octaves and its damper mechanism, it is mostly preferred. The variations of mountain dulcimer after knowing what is a mountain dulcimer becomes interesting. The dulcimers are tuned to the diatonic scale with ranges from 2 to 3 octaves.

16. What are the Variations of names for Hammered Dulcimer around the world?

A lady playing the dulcimer : what is a mountain dulcimer 4
Image by Ján Števonka from Pixabay

In different parts of the world, the versions of a hammered dulcimer are constructed differently. Their playing style is also different from the traditional one. Here is a list of the names of hammered dulcimers in different regions of the world.

  • Chang in Uzbekistan
  • Cimbal, cimbale, or cimbule in Croatian
  • Cimbalai or cimbolai in Lithuania
  • Cimbale or Oprekeji in Slovenia
  • Cimbalom in Hungary
  • Cimbole in Latvia
  • Cymbal in the Czech Republic and Slovakia
  • Cymbala in Latvia (Latgalia)
  • Cymbaly in Poland
  • Dan tam thap luc in Vietnam
  • Darushimaa in Japan
  • Dulcimer hammers in Israel
  • Dultsimer in Russia
  • Hackbrade or hammarharpa in Sweden
  • Hackbrett in Australia, Germany, and Switzerland
  • Hakkebord in Belgium and Netherlands
  • Hakkebrat in Denmark and Norway
  • Hammered dulcimer in Canada, United States, and the United States
  • Khim in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand
  • Rgyud-mang in Tibet
  • Salterio in Brazil, Italy, Mexico, and Portugal
  • Salterio or dulcemele in Spain
  • Santoor in India
  • Santouri in Greece
  • Santur in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey
  • Tambai in Romania
  • Tiompan in Ireland
  • Tsimbal in Serbia
  • Tsimbi in Yiddish
  • Tsymbaly in Belarus and Ukraine
  • Tympanon in France
  • Yanggeum in Korea
  • Yangqin in China
  • Yoochin in Mongolia

So today, you got to know about what is a mountain dulcimer along with what is a hammered dulcimer. However, you also got to know what does a dulcimer look like and what does a dulcimer sound like. (See What are some good Songs to make a Texting Lyric Prank?)

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