Other Noisemakers IV: The Hammered Dulcimer
Deceptively simple in form, and related to early harpsicord and piano variants, the hammered dulcimer is a 3-6 key octave string-percussion instrument diatonically or chromatically arranged with, gee, an awful lot of strings to tune…! Mine is a Songbird Phoebe like the one pictured above (I’ll put a picture of mine up at some future date). The left bridge is the treble bridge; the right bridge is the bass bridge. The strings pass through the bridges alternately and across the bridges alternately as you move up the scale. Each octave key is arranged in a “square” about a bridge
Frequently associated with choir and “church” music, the instrument can also have a distinctive New Age character too. They can be built plain and simple, or complex with pedal dampers and extended string ranges. The hammers, sometimes very ornate wooden “sticks” with padded and/or hard edge ends, are balanced to make the action smooth and elegant. The hammers can be works of art in their own right.
One of the most versatile HD artists is Rebecca Edwards, “Dizzy Dulcimer”, an irrepressible free-spirited lass from the UK, whose tireless support and promotion of the HD has made her a world virtuoso on the instrument, as adept at improv as with composed and adapted music. Below is a selection of videos that showcase her and her talents on the hammered dulcimer. Enjoy!