There is something intrinsically gorgeous about a musical instrument. Not only can it sound beautiful; it is also visually pleasing. Walk into the home of any wealthy individual, and you’ll likely see at least a couple of musical instruments hung proudly on a wall or two. Instruments that are commonly used decoratively include the piano and acoustic guitar. However, there is an instrument that is particularly unique in both look and sound: the mountain dulcimer.
The mountain dulcimer was born in Appalachia. However, its predecessors (the Swedish hummel, the Norwegian langeleik, the German Scheitholt, and the French épinette des vosges) hailed from Europe/Eastern Europe. The mountain dulcimer first showed up in Knott County, Kentucky, where J. Edward Thomas built and sold what is now known as the Kentucky dulcimer. Since the volume of a traditional mountain dulcimer is soft, it was mostly used as a parlor instrument. That is, until the “dulcimer renaissance” of the 1950’s swept the folk music scene. This renaissance came about largely due to the fact that Kentuckian Jean Ritchie played the dulcimer for New York audiences until it gained mainstream popularity. Today, the Appalachian dulcimer is a favorite instrument of many folk musicians.
The mountain dulcimer possesses a soft, sweet sound that is perfect for accompanying the voice, and the instrument is equally sweet to behold. Almost all luthiers consider dulcimer-making an art, and dulcimers themselves to be works of art. Countless types of wood are used to construct dulcimers, a few types being cedar, rosewood, walnut, and poplar. Some luthiers create traditional sound holes (Appalachian dulcimers have 4) in the shapes of hearts and hummingbirds, but many are willing to create any type of sound hole a soul may want. Also, it is not uncommon for more expensive mountain dulcimers to be inlaid with pearl, turquoise and other precious materials. An expertly designed mountain dulcimer, especially one that is played often, begs to be proudly displayed on a wall. Truly, this instrument is breathtaking in every way.
Perhaps you don’t have a musical bone in your body, but you love music, as well as art. We have just the thing for you: a digital paint-by-number pattern created for a Windows PC. This pattern has been known to provide hours of good-for-your-brain entertainment. Check it out here.
Interested in viewing some incredible dulcimer performances? Take a look:
Do YOU play the mountain dulcimer? If so, what prompted you to take up this instrument? Do you believe that a dulcimer is a work of art? Share with us in the comments section below, and let us know what you think of these videos!
Read more Segmation blog posts about Music and Art:
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Be a Artist in 2 minutes with Segmation SegPlay® PC (see more details here)