The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

I just noticed that I first posted on the Hammered Dulcimer here, way back in Aug 2002, {https://thesession.org/discussions/819/comments} so after eight years, have there been any changes?

I’m wondering now, if there are any more musicians playing the Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today, than there were back then & if so, I’d be very interested to hear from them.

I now play my own Hammered Dulcimer every week at a local session, up here on the North coast, which incidentally usually features only one or two other melody instrument, plus Guitar & rhythm instruments & in that setting, the Hammered Dulcimer works rather well.

However, as voiced by many session musicians over the years, it is not what you might call the most popular of instruments, when it appears in the Pub doorway, under someone’s arm.

I must confess, I don’t think it works too well myself, in most Pub Sessions, particularly when played with too many other instruments. That’s not to say though, that there aren’t some session situations which suit it very well.

I must confess though that, unlike many HD players I know, I don’t actually like the sound of the more than one Hammered Dulcimer being played at the same time, so I’m not a fan when it comes to Dulcimers in groups, gangs or orchestras. ๐Ÿ™

The fact still remains though, that this instrument has been around & played in Ireland at least since 1767 & may well have been played here long before then, too. So it does, of course, have a place in the history of Irish Traditional Music, albeit a small one & therefore surely deserves it’s place here today ….. doesn’t it?

We must remember too, that the real Irish Harp was of course strung with wire strings, long before the modern European Gut Strung Beasties were planted here, ๐Ÿ˜‰ so it suffers from some of the same problems with sustain, that usually keeps the HD out of most sessions, in that when really fast tunes are attempted, it can very easily just end up sounding like a complete & utter racket! However, no one in their right mind would suggest that the Wire Strung Gaelic Harp didn’t & still doesn’t deserve to be played in Irish Music circles today, … would they?

If you have any thoughts on this subject, I’d really like to hear them, especially if they relate to first hand experiences you may have had with Hammered Dulcimers &/or Hammered Dulcimer players, in Ireland today?

Cheers
Dick

The Hammred Dulcimer in Ireland:
http://irishdulcimer.com/

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

By the way, what sort of metal was used for the wires of the old Irish harps?

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

It’s interesting that even as someone who plays the instrument you say that it doesn’t work too well in Irish sessions. I would have to agree with that. I don’t have strong negative feelings about the instrument - it sounds nice on its own - but in my opinion it’s more suited to playing English music. There’s something about the bounce, the delay, that has a tendency to stifle the flow of Irish tunes - holding them back when they want to drive forward. I don’t think English tunes, particularly the standard 4/4 dances, suffer in the same way from the instrument’s percussive delay.

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

I like listening to anything that’s is different or out of the ordinary. I heard a young lad playing the Dulcimer on the Gig Rig at the Cavan Fleadh. To be honest he was fighting a losing battle against the surrounding noise, but what he played, he played well. I always associate the tune ‘The Lass of Bonacord’ with the Dulcimer, probably because I often heard it played on it.

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

I’ve got a baby one, which everyone thinks is a toy but isn’t. It can’t stand up in a session, it’s not loud enough but most people love the sound of it makes.

It was dismissed by a friend as not an Irish instrument (I’m in England) .

I’m only a beginner but I do wonder if it’s worth keeping at it sometimes with comments like that.

However I did reduce a room to tears with a made up story about a coal miners daughter and Josehin’s Waltz which was very satisfying.

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

I’ve seen a couple of hammered dulcimers in the session in Peoria, IL, and I’ve played with a few others at dance camp. The combination of fiddle and hammered dulcimer is quite pleasant. I’m not sure adding a guitar helps the mix. That said, the percussive effect, particularly on the higher notes, can be hard on the hearing of the fiddler sitting next to you (perhaps no worse than sitting next to an accordion or banjo though).

I once went to a performance by a virtuoso Persian santour player. For one number he put a silk scarf over the strings, muting the instrument a bit and reducing the sustain. It was quite lovely— I remember the concert 40 years later! If you try that approach you need to be able to play the instrument without seeing the strings.

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Interesting replies folks, thanks!

@ nicholas, I believe Metal Strings: Brass, Silver, Gold or Bronze!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NH-lN0zMsN4&feature=fvst


@ Dragut Reis, I would agree with you when it comes to Reels, but when these are slowed down, they can sound great, not much use for dancing too, I know, but very nice to listen too. I also think 6/8 Marches & Jigs usually sound excellent, as do most other rhythms, so IMO it’s only the fast Reels that don’t suit the HD.

@ Free Reed, That’s interesting, I’d love to know who was playing the HD on the Gig Rig! Also, I wonder if anyone entered HD at the Fleadh this year?
Maybe some other folks here can answer those questions. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Aye, Scottish Tunes particularly well on the HD, I think, because of all the natural little gaps & pauses in tunes like Strathspeys … but just you try finding a Bodhran player in Ireland who understands how to play to a Strathspey!
Even the Donegal boys level them out, so they lose their special character. ๐Ÿ™

@ InfernalTootler …. "It was dismissed by a friend as not an Irish instrument" … Ah that old nonsense! ๐Ÿ˜›
So did he explain what exactly an "Irish Instrument" actually is?
How did he classify these so-called Irish Instruments I wonder?
Was he himself playing one of those modern, johnny come lately, Irish Instruments like Concertinas & Accordions, or even later ones like Bodhrans, Bouzoukis & Guitars or maybe he was playing a Djembe! ๐Ÿ˜€

As for the size of your own Dulcimer, Jack Bethel, up in Glasgow has a great wee Session Dulcimer, which he tells me is a great job, he can lean it on the pub table so he takes up no more room than anyone else & it doesn’t drown everything else out. Sounds like a great job to me.

@ fiddlentina Yeah, I’d love to be able to do the Silk Scarf trick, but I’ve only been playing for 8 years, so I’m not quite there yet. As for jarring the ears of the player next to you, I think we all have to choose our seats carefully at a session don’t we?
e.g. you want to be on the melody side of any Accordion or Melodeon player, the dry side of any Flute player ๐Ÿ˜‰ & Fiddlers always want to sit together, so each session set up is really a game of musical chairs before you even start, so using the HD is no different, I reckon.

Cheers
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

There was a hammered dulcimer at a session I went to years ago. It was an enormous instrument - double bridge and a stand that was about four feet high. The player stood to play it. It seemed to loom over the rest of us because at it’s highest point, was above our heads. It was also really loud because of its size, I guess. This particular instrument didn’t work well in this session.

I had a small hammered dulcimer at one time - probably like the one you mention, Dick. I liked playing it in small sessions. It was a single bridge, didn’t take up much room, and the sound didn’t overwhelm other players.

I like those big hammered dulcimers on their own or with some accompaniment. I think they work pretty well as the main instrument. But I have a hard time with the big ones in Irish sessions.

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If your interest is playing sessions, then you need a dulcimer that is built for session playing. That means one with less sustain, so you can play faster tunes without so many overtones. Some players claim that dulcimers with a floating soundboard have less sustain than a fixed soundboard. Different types of top wood (spruce, redwood, poplar, etc) as well as bracing patterns effect the sound. Laminated or solid top and back also sounds different. Size of the top also influences sustain and volume. If most of your sessions play primarily in D or G, then a small (12/11) instrument should suffice. Different types of hammers can also make a difference in overall sound. I have found that heavier hammers tend to cut some of the sustain on some dulcimers. Last, but not least, the way you play can make a huge difference. Compare someone playing as many melody notes as possible with ornaments on a big, loud dulcimer with a lot of sustain to someone lightly playing a variety of melody, chords, and harmony notes on a small dulcimer that has low sustain. I know who I would rather be sitting next to in a session.

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

I believe the young man seen playing hammered Dulcimer in Cavan is Cobey England. He’s 17 and a regular with the geezers at our session here in Frederick MD. He and a splendid time in Ireland and I believe he said he place third in the busking competion on Saturday. The next time I see him (maybe Thursday, he doesn’t make it every week) I’ll tell him to check out this thread.

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Dampers are a session HD player’s friend.
I came to Irish music and dulcimer at the same time, learning tunes from a mandolin player. I was lucky enough to be received kindly at our local session, only learning later that dulcimers are less than popular. Ignorance is bliss, I guess. Sensitivity and ability to listen and blend is important for any instrument., not just our 72 stringed ones.

It’s nice to hear some history — thanks.

Posted by .

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

My husband plays a Bill Spence model from David’ Lindsey’s Dulcimers here in the US. It’s well suited for jigs and reels (Bill’s a GREAT contra dance musician). The instrument is fine for sessions with a crowd. Just a wee bit difficult to mic for a gig- have to turn the gain up a lot.

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@ tacoman, you got that right Sir. I can’t understand why anyone would want to stand, at a session! That makes no sense to me at all & goes completely against the whole atmo & ethos, a bit like using written music at a session, such practices are so alien to what traditional music & sessions are all about.

Bit like someone lounging in a pair of Jeans & T Shirt, with a Pint by their side …. in an orchestra!

As for the wee Dulcimer, here’s that one Jack plays, it’s a Rick Thum Wren 13/12:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3E2h1Oq63AY


I play it’s bigger cousin a 17/17, which I wouldn’t use in any Pub Session, except any of our local Ballads & Tunes gigs.

@ bluzdulcimer Aye ye olde sustain is the big problem really. After much research I opted for one made by Rick Thum, as it has less sustain than any other HD, plus I often cover the soundholes with cloth, which helps to dampen the sustain even more, as can be seen in this video clip:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv57bJanjxc


However, I’m not convinced that it’s a simple case of fixed versus floating soundboards, cause my other Dulcimer has a floating soundboard, but despite being smaller, a 12/12, it actually has much more sustain than my fixed Rick Thum. So as you say, there are a lot of factors at play, which can have an effect like the wood used for both the Dulcimer & the hammers & also how those hammers are used, & whether the bare wood is used against the strings or the leather, fabric covering.

@ Boots MacAllen Good man Sir, tell Cobey I’m sorry I missed his playing. Perhaps someone caught his playing on YouTube! ๐Ÿ™‚

@ bcalm Hi, glad to hear you are having fun with your HD. You are of course absolutely right, when you say it is not so much the instrument, but rather how it is being played, for we all know that any instrument played badly can wreck a session, so it is of course unfair to single out the HD.

We do, after all, share the unpopular corner of the session, with many other instruments which tend to be greeted with a certain amount of fear, when they appear, including the Piano Accordion, Djembe, Spoons, Bodhran & even Banjos ……

Cheers
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

@ vonnieestes Hi Vonnie, I wondered if you might drop in here! ๐Ÿ™‚

Yes, I think gigs are where the big HDs really work well, when the sound can be controlled through the system.
Mind you I once played on air & found out later that the sound man, in his infinite wisdom had decided that what my HD needed was sustain & echo ……………. I heard the broadcast later & it sounded absolutely horrendous! ๐Ÿ™
So you certainly need someone in the know, twiddling the knobs!

Cheers
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

I’ve been playing HD for 11 years now. I’ve played in some sessions here n the States, but also some in Ireland. The size is a problem, especially in small pubs. Mine that I take to Ireland isn’t my largest one, and it’s not something I’d want to take to, say, Tom’s in Ballycastle all year long. Takes up too much room.

Dick, you’d have to comment on the sustain of mine. It does have some, but it doesn’t seem to me to have as much as some I’ve heard.

Also, someone above mentioned playing with ornaments. On an HD, ornaments usually just muddy things up. You’ve already got fiddles and flutes playing ornaments, and with the sustain of the HD, ornaments don’t add, but make a mess of things on the fast tunes. As I listened to John Rea CDs and as I have talked to other players who have played regularly in Co. Antrim sessions, they don’t use ornaments other than triplets (the shakes, as John called them). After reading/hearing all that, I’ve decided ornaments on reels and jigs on HD are a bad idea. I do maybe the odd grace note (depending on the tune), but normally nothing else in sessions.

Another thing about sustain is that the closer you are to the HD, the more sustain you hear. The further away you are, the less you hear. With many session circles being pretty small, I can see how the HD sustain could be disturbing to those sitting close, and probably more than to those listening from across the room.

As with any instrument, we need to listen and be aware of blending in with whomever we are playing. I like to wail away on the HD like anyone else, but in sessions, one can’t do that. That sort of thing should be reserved for home or playing with friends who also want to wail away in private. The tunes should be the thing served, not the musicians or instruments. I try to serve the music, and hope I come close to it.

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Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

I’^ve never encountered any problems in sessions with the hackbrett - whici has a long sustain. But then I always try to hear the instrument next to me when I play. Means I have to play soft, which is an option on hd - it’s so dynamic. and of course you have to adapt the ornaments to the instrument. If I play rolls, i’m more tempted to use thirds than seconds. RickD’s post is on the spot !
Pete Coe, who played with Jimmy Cooper, told me Jimmy use to build his instruments without sound holes, to have a far less sustain.

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Hi Ptarmi,

Listened to some of your videos, thought the HD sounded at its best on the scottish tunes, the sound seemed particularly suited to the jerky rythms (scottish music tends to sound spiky or jerky to my ears)

- chris

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

@ Nikita Hi there, I must admit, I avoid using rolls myself because, quite honestly, I can never make them sound anything other than laboured & jaggy on the HD, instead of the light & smooth way they should sound.

Maybe I have to work on them more, but despite some of the thinking on this board, I’m still not convinced that every instrument playing Irish music today, has to be able to do all the tricks, to be classed & accepted into the body of the kirk. So, to be honest, I’m quite happy to play to, what I see are, the instruments’ strengths.

Lots of instruments bring their own voice & many different qualities to the table & I think they should be valued for the positive qualities they bring to the music & not discounted & shunned for what some might see as their limitations.

That’d be like dismissing Whistles, Flutes & Pipes simply because they couldn’t play any notes lower than the bottom D ….. in other words, that’d be just plain silly!

OK so you can’t play a cran on a wire strung Gaelic Harp …. get over it!

As for the sound holes, you do realise that the traditional Co Antrim Dulcimers don’t have ANY sound holes! For example, if you play them when they lie flat on a table, you can hardly hear them, that’s why players like the late John Rea & Nat Magee used to actually sit them on top of a little box!

Here’s a photo of William Rea’s HD, which is exactly the same as Nat’s & John’s HDs. You see, no sound holes, neither round holes in the sound board nor slits in the side of the instrument.

http://irishdulcimer.com/2010/08/28/hammered-dulcimers-that-were-made-in-ireland/

@ ramblingpitchfork Quick, check your mirror, is it really the music ……… or is it your ears that are spiky & jerky? ๐Ÿ˜€

Cheers
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Hi, Ptarmigan:

Nice topic, and Happy 8th Anniversary.

Of the HD in Ireland I cannot speak, but over here, even in this part of New England, there are at least few players lurking about.

Regarding your observation above,
" it is not what you might call the most popular of instruments, when it appears in the Pub doorway, under someone’s arm."

I perceive, around here at least, the feeling remains a bit similar at a session, but not, IMHO, as a result of anything about the instrument itself.

I think it is the fault, if fault there is, of the players, as the HD is not the optimal "dabbling" instrument, nor "strum along" instrument. For just jumping in when you do not know the tune or version being played by the rest of the players, it has all the subtlety of jumping in with bagpipes. And backing on HD requires a savvy player to do well, like anything else.

When it works, it is grand, there is nothing I like better.
When it does not work, it can be trying.

Thus spaketh the off-key piper.
๐Ÿ™‚

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Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Incidentally, I got my ‘travel’ dulcimer here
http://www.dizzi.co.uk/hammereddulcimershop.php

For about ยฃ200 you get the bag, hammers, a book of instructions, with my most hated tune of all time ‘Go tell Aunt Rhody’, tuning thingy and away you go.

it’s so cute! Actually I thought the kids might like to play it, but no luck.

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

๐Ÿ™‚ could be both Ptarmigan.

BTW i wasn’t implying riticism of scottish music by calling it spiky & jerky. I like scottish music, more to listen to than to play, but to me it feels less smooth than Irish music, not necessarily better or worse, but less smooth Not just the strathspeys, though they are the obvious examples.

- chris

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

I do not like hammer dulcimer. You can almost see the noise pile up around it in a big, spherical cloud.

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Hey Dick, I do think that every instruments has its own particularities, ornaments-wise. You can do ornaments on the HD like the bounce triplets, or tremolos on 2 notes, or a few backing notes along with the melody, which are kind of HDwise… and so what ? I mean, why do we havbe to do absolutely do the same ornaments as the fiddle or the pipes ? Less ornaments also sound irish…
I’ve always found that the HD complements very well other instruments (I think the only instrument it gets less better along with is the harpsichord), and played with taste it’s just beautiful (just listen to John Rea).

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

@ Rook Thanks. Aye, the time fairly flies in!
As for dabbling or noodling behind the tune, yes I agree, that sounds crap no matter what instrument is being used & of course the louder they are, the worse it sounds.

@ InfernalTootler I haven’t actually played any of the HDs on that site, so I couldn’t comment, but like any instrument, it pays to play a few examples before you can possibly know which one suits you.

@ Chris Don’t worry, I didn’t think you were being critical. I just was just messing.
As for the good old Scottish Snap, yes indeed, you’ll find that in all Scottish tunes.

@ sbhikes That’s fine. The fact is, I’m not sure there is an instrument that absolutely everybody likes.

@ Nikita Pfister "why do we havbe to do absolutely do the same ornaments as the fiddle or the pipes"
Yes, that was my point.
As for musical partners, there are lots of instruments that the HD works well with & even something like a Mandolin, which, if played in a certain way, can sound very like the HD, but if both musicians are fully aware of the dangers, then with care, I’m sure even they could sound quite nice together.

Cheers
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Dick, as long as you & your mates are enjoying the session that is grand. I’m grateful my friend only occasionally plays his hammered dulcimer. It certainly changes the session, which can be a good thing. He is a very good multi-instrumentalist. Ironically his guitar is what I would most like to hear him play (in a session), if he wants to play an instrument with harmony capability. He usually plays box, though personally I most enjoy his flute playing.

Posted by .

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

@ Random_humour .. sounds very like our situation, cause I would mostly play my Fiddle, but I also rattle away at my HD as well as Mandolin, Banjo & Concertina, so the HD is only part of my weaponry on the night. As we do lots of Ballads as well as tunes on those nights, the variety helps break the whole thing up.

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Well, I was hoping you’d have more Ireland input Mr. P. All I have is the SW Florida report. Two good friends who play, never at the same time at our session, and one also plays banjo, mando and guitar. They both do a fine and sensitive job with the HD, only adding and never causing harm. They never whale away and create that dangerous wall of sustain which can drown out the finer points of this music. That seems to be the biggest problem with the HD. (HD…HD…HD…endless echo…echo…echo…)

Like many dangerous weapons (piano accordions, goat skins, six stringed devils, etc.) it’s more the user than the instrument that makes the difference.

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We found a hammered dulcimer in the loft of a house owned by a pub landlady in antrim Town.

A friend of ours who dabbles in instruments fixed it up and then used it as a template to make one for himself, and a fine job he did.

alas due to family committments his playing out was curtailed but the the dulcimer sounded nice andmade a pleasant change.

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@ SWFL Fiddler Don’t worry, I wasn’t expecting a huge response from folks here in Ireland, cause I know there aren’t too many of them around. As for the dreaded wall of echo, aye the only answer there is, if you can’t hold back, then force yourself to, by making sure you have dampers fitted to the beast! ๐Ÿ˜‰

@ bodhran bliss Very interesting. I’d love to have seen that old one & indeed the new one they made. It’d be fascinating to find out if it had been made in Ballyclare, where so many Co Antrim Dulcimers were made.

I wonder did the old one look anything like this one, that William Rea plays?

http://irishdulcimer.com/2010/08/28/hammered-dulcimers-that-were-made-in-ireland/

Cheers
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Seems to me Ptarmi was spot on with the original post. I play hammered dulcimer but have never taken it to a "real" Irish session though I’ve played it many times in groups playing mostly Irish music at a decent level. To my ears my particular instrument is not a problem in terms of volume or sustain in a session, though many HDs are. I agree that Rick Thum instruments are among those with the least sustain. David Lindsey instruments are also very good in that regard. Multiple dulcimers in an Irish session are not fun at all, particularly if the players are pounding away without listening carefully. I don’t like that.

You can play many of the common ornaments on the dulcimer, but they don’t seem to sound as they should even in the hands of fine HD players. I’d rather not hear too many, particularly in a session situation.

I like the dulcimer better for Scottish things than Irish for many reasons, most of them already pointed out above. I like the "spikey" comment about the Scottish stuff.

These comments come from Minnesota (and lots of playing in Michigan). I’d very much like to hear more about the Irish situation. I’d hoped the festival from a few years back would take off and I’d be able to get there. I hope someone will be able to say more in response to the original question.

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OH yeah…and the real key is the player!

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

@ cboody Aye multiple Dulcimers …. that’s a sight & sound, to strike terror into the hearts of all those fans of subtle music: ๐Ÿ˜‰

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1KEJeKq-UU&feature=related


About as subtle as the Scottish Fiddle Orchestra & about as pleasant to listen too, in my book! ;-(

But seriously, I know these guys are in a class situation & it’s a whole different ball game to a session, but I’m just making the point & agreeing with you, that, as with some other session instruments, there is little or no point in having any more than one of them, rattling away at a session.

As for the David Lindsey Dulcimer, I confess I haven’t heard one in the flesh, but I did find a couple of YouTubes, including this one:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9V3oFoTDcLk


It is of course hard to tell from the video, but I’m rather surprised to hear you say that they have as little sustain as a Rick Thum, because I notice they have a floating soundboard & 3 strings per course, so despite the fact that their website claims that they:
"deliver the powerful dynamic range with low sustain" I’d be rather surprised if they were able to produce anywhere near as low sustain as a Rick Thum.

After all, with the soundboard floating, what’s to stop that ringing?
Surely a fixed board is going to deaden the sound much faster?

As for more on the Irish situation, well sadly, there really isn’t a whole lot more to tell, other than what’s on my site & if there is, I’d certainly love to hear about it, but I think HD players coming here from the US are often rather disappointed to find out just how rare these instruments are now, over here.

As for more Hammered Dulcimer Festivals here, the sad fact is there really isn’t much home grown demand for them & the truth of the matter is, if it weren’t for HD players & others crossing the water to support them, you would probably find yourself dodging the Tumbleweed at the next one! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cheers
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Interesting discussion. A lot of good points being made re authenticity in Irish music etc. Personally I think the problem regarding sustain is a result of the โ€œrevivalโ€. Old dulcimers, or any Iโ€™ve seen anyway, had three or even four strings per note but they did not have particularly long sustain. New makers, and I mean 1970/80โ€™s, made new designs using better materials and improved tone but this also introduced more sustain.
However, I think the problem is not so much โ€œsustainโ€ as โ€œdecayโ€. An instrument with a fair amount of sustain but very rapid decay will still have a good full tone and will be less likely to give a muddy sound. Take away sustain completely and you get a very thin tinny sound.
When a note on one side of the bridge is played, the note on the other side also rings out (Chris Foss describes this as zzzing). Play a few fast notes and the โ€œwall of soundโ€ soon builds up. I use a thin piece of felt woven through the strings at the far left and right ends of the dulcimer. This is just enough stop the zzzing but not enough to make the played note sound damped, resulting in a fast decay and a clearer note. This addresses the actual sound of the instrument but how you play the actual tunes is even more important. I really just play the melody with very little ornamentation. I feel that the role of the dulcimer in Irish and Scottish music sessions is to support the fiddles, pipes etc. By keeping the playing quite simple and maybe emphasising some phrases the dulcimer can give the session a lift without being intrusive.

LL

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

@ Lex Luthier Yes, I tried that weaving trick myself, before I started covering up the sound holes with fabric instead & I’d agree, it’s well worth the effort.

Like yourself too, I firmly believe that there is a place for a well played Hammered Dulcimer in many sessions.

Cheers
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Not too sure Dick but I might be able to find out.

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

@Ptarmi

Your video of the dulcimer jam is actually a bunch of folks I know! They were, however, stuck in a club situation where sometimes music is at the lowest common denominator. That said, big groups of dulcimers playing together can be fun, and even musical, but in the session context awful.

I don’t think the Lindsey is as short sustain as the Rick Thum, but it is a very short sustain. I’ve played them side by side with lots of other US instruments and they are the two with the shortest sustain…no doubt.

Finally the operant words in "I firmly believe that there is a place for a well played Hammered Dulcimer in many sessions." are "well played." Sadly too many bad HD players have gone to sessions…

Maybe I’ll get across the pond to Scotland and Ireland somewhere along the line. I’d certainly like to meet a bunch of the inhabitants of this site!

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

@ cboody Lucky you! I’d love to attend one of those Dulcimer festivals over there & be able to try out all the different makers instruments.

Don’t forget to let us know when your coming … & there’s a spare HD here, if you don’t want to bring one with you.

I’m sure we could also fix you up with one for loan or hire in England too or Scotland.

Cheers
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

That I will file and remember!

Re: Causeway Dulcimer Festival, Bushmills, Co. Antrim!

Here’s a compilation of photos & music from the Causeway Dulcimer Festival, which I organised back in 2005.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EI3iw-l8GNI


Hopefully it’ll be a reminder of a great weekend, for anyone who was there & will perhaps give a wee flavour to others, of what they missed.

Cheers,
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

I like the Irish music, and I use to like going to Irish sessions here in the Houston TX area. I never thought I really fit in, as th HD is not what you would call a "traditional" Irish instrument.

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

There used to be a group of HD players in Glasgow that was mainly shipyard workers - they claimed that the day job gave them skills needed to make them, but I suspect it was more that living with the sound of steam riveters pounding sheet metal 8 hours a day made the HD sound normal.

Maybe there was a parallel group in the Belfast shipyards?

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Hammered Dulcimer fans might like to know that I’m promoting ye olde Hammered Dulcimer, on BBC Radio Ulster tonight at 6pm, on ~ A Kist o Wurds. ๐Ÿ™‚

Recorded recently in the Diamond Bar, Ballymoney, Co. Antrim.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07v2qmg

Cheers,
Dick

Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Thanks, Dick
This being on BBC Radio I will be able to listen. We don’t always receive BBC video broadcasts stateside.

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Re: The Hammered Dulcimer in Ireland today?

Just a note from a HD player. If the HD player knows what they are doing, has dampers it can be quite succesful at session.