[Article by Michaela Elias]
It is said that sometimes the greatest pleasures in life are the simple ones. While a guitar has six strings, and a piano has numerous scales, the dulcimer has a mere three strings and a single scale. So why bother? You may ask. What is the appeal of the simple dulcimer, especially when it can only be played in a few keys, making it difficult to play with other instruments? Why would anyone take up the dulcimer when they have the choice of a more complex versatile instrument like the guitar? But in its simplicity, the dulcimer, which resembles the guitar and is basically played in the same manner, is both charming and accessible.
Wayne Jiang and Patricia Delich are two dulcimer players in the process of documenting the Dulcimer Renaissance in the 1970s. “If it was 1940, you probably wouldn’t have heard of a dulcimer because when it first surfaced outside of the Appalachian Mountains, it was rarely seen,” note Wayne and Patricia. But the light, melodic sound of the dulcimer did not go unrecognized for long. As more and more people started playing the dulcimer, the once obscure instrument gained popularity, picking up during the folk revivals in the late fifties and early sixties. “Every dulcimer has its own sound and personality and it’s a joy to see the variations of dulcimers,” say Patricia and Wayne. “The creativity and craftsmanship in dulcimer building is constantly evolving. There is no wrong way to make or play the dulcimer. If it sounds good and works for you that’s what you do.” Wayne and Patricia have seen every shape of dulcimer with various shapes of sound holes from hearts to butterflies to birds and they have their own incredible collection of dulcimers which they have acquired from places like eBay.
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