- Great Painters
- Accounting
- Fundamentals of Law
- Marketing
- Shorthand
- Concept Cars
- Videogames
- The World of Sports

- Blogs
- Free Software
- Google
- My Computer

- PHP Language and Applications
- Wikipedia
- Windows Vista

- Education
- Masterpieces of English Literature
- American English

- English Dictionaries
- The English Language

- Medical Emergencies
- The Theory of Memory
- The Beatles
- Dances
- Microphones
- Musical Notation
- Music Instruments
- Batteries
- Nanotechnology
- Cosmetics
- Diets
- Vegetarianism and Veganism
- Christmas Traditions
- Animals

- Fruits And Vegetables


  1. Accordion
  2. Acoustic bass guitar
  3. Aeolian harp
  4. Archlute
  5. Bagpipes
  6. Balalaika
  7. Bandoneon
  8. Banjo
  9. Baroque trumpet
  10. Bass drum
  11. Bassoon
  12. Bongo drums
  13. Bouzouki
  14. Brass band
  15. Brass instrument
  16. Bugle
  17. Carillon
  18. Castanet
  19. Celesta
  20. Cello
  21. Chapman Stick
  22. Chime tree
  23. Chordophone
  24. Cimbalom
  25. Clarinet
  26. Claves
  27. Clavichord
  28. Clavinet
  29. Concertina
  30. Conga
  31. Cornamuse
  32. Cornet
  33. Cornett
  34. Cowbell
  35. Crash cymbal
  36. Crotales
  37. Cymbal
  38. Digital piano
  39. Disklavier
  40. Double bass
  41. Drum
  42. Drum kit
  43. Drum machine
  44. Drum stick
  45. Electric bass
  46. Electric guitar
  47. Electric harp
  48. Electric instrument
  49. Electric piano
  50. Electric violin
  51. Electronic instrument
  52. Electronic keyboard
  53. Electronic organ
  54. English horn
  55. Euphonium
  56. Fiddle
  57. Flamenco guitar
  58. Floor tom
  59. Flugelhorn
  60. Flute
  61. Flute d'amour
  62. Glockenspiel
  63. Gong
  64. Hammered dulcimer
  65. Hammond organ
  66. Handbells
  67. Harmonica
  68. Harmonium
  69. Harp
  70. Harp guitar
  71. Harpsichord
  72. Hi-hat
  73. Horn
  74. Horn section
  75. Keyboard instrument
  76. Koto
  77. Lamellaphone
  78. Latin percussion
  79. List of string instruments
  80. Lute
  81. Lyre
  82. Mandola
  83. Mandolin
  84. Manual
  85. Maraca
  86. Marimba
  87. Marimbaphone
  88. Mellophone
  89. Melodica
  90. Metallophone
  91. Mouthpiece
  92. Music
  93. Musical bow
  94. Musical instrument
  95. Musical instrument classification
  96. Musical instrument digital interface
  97. Musical keyboard
  98. Oboe
  99. Ocarina
  100. Orchestra
  101. Organ
  102. Organology
  103. Pan flute
  104. Pedalboard
  105. Percussion instrument
  106. Piano
  107. Piccolo
  108. Pickup
  109. Pipe organ
  110. Piston valve
  111. Player piano
  112. Plectrum
  113. Psaltery
  114. Recorder
  115. Ride cymbal
  116. Sampler
  117. Saxophone
  118. Shamisen
  119. Sitar
  120. Snare drum
  121. Sound module
  122. Spinet
  123. Steel drums
  124. Steel-string acoustic guitar
  125. Stringed instrument
  126. String instrument
  127. Strings
  128. Synthesizer
  129. Tambourine
  130. Theremin
  131. Timbales
  132. Timpani
  133. Tom-tom drum
  134. Triangle
  135. Trombone
  136. Trumpet
  137. Tuba
  138. Tubular bell
  139. Tuned percussion
  140. Ukulele
  141. Vibraphone
  142. Viol
  143. Viola
  144. Viola d'amore
  145. Violin
  146. Vocal music
  147. Wind instrument
  148. Wood block
  149. Woodwind instrument
  150. Xylophone
  151. Zither


This article is from:

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: 

Hammered dulcimer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A diatonic hammered dulcimer made by Masterworks
A diatonic hammered dulcimer made by Masterworks

The hammered dulcimer is a stringed musical instrument with the strings stretched over a trapezoidal sounding board. The instrument is typically set at an angle on a stand in front of the musician, who holds a small mallet, called a hammer in each hand with which to strike the strings (for the plucked Appalachian dulcimer, see Appalachian dulcimer). The word dulcimer comes from the Latin dulcis or "sweet" and the Greek melos, meaning "song". The origin of the instrument is uncertain, but tradition holds that it was invented in Iran roughly 2000 years ago.

The instrument has seen somewhat of a revival in America in the American folk music traditions, and also by its use by Contemporary Christian musician Rich Mullins. It is also still played in Wales, East Anglia, Northumbria, the Middle East, the People's Republic of China and Thailand. It is also used in traditional folk music in Austria and Bavaria.

Strings and tuning

A chromatic hammered dulcimer made by Dusty Strings, a Seattle builder
A chromatic hammered dulcimer made by Dusty Strings, a Seattle builder

The hammered dulcimer comes in various sizes, identified by the number of strings that cross each of the bridges. A 15/14, for example, has two bridges (treble and bass) and spans three octaves. The strings of a hammered dulcimer are usually found in pairs, two strings for each note (though some instruments have three or four strings per note). Each set of strings is tuned in unison and is called a course. As with a piano, the purpose of using multiple strings per course is to make the instrument louder, although as the courses are rarely in perfect unison, a chorus effect usually results. A hammered dulcimer, like an autoharp or harp, requires a tuning wrench for tuning. Unlike the strings of a guitar, the dulcimer's strings are wound around simple bolts (called tuning pins) with square heads.

The strings of the hammered dulcimer are often tuned diatonically, according to a circle of fifths pattern. Typically, the lowest note (often a G or D) is found on the lower right-hand corner of the instrument, just to the left of the right-hand (bass) bridge. As a player strikes the courses above in sequence, they ascend the diatonic scale based on the G or D. With this tuning, the scale is broken into two tetrachords, or groups of four notes. For example, on an instrument with D as the lowest note, the D major scale is played starting in the lower-right corner and ascending the bass bridge: D - E - F# - G. This is the lower tetrachord of the D major scale. At this point the player returns to the bottom of the instrument and shifts to the treble bridge to play the higher tetrachord: A - B - C# - D.

This shift to the adjacent bridge is required because the bass bridge's fourth string G is the start of the lower tetrachord of the G scale. If the player ascends the first eight strings of the bass bridge, they will encounter a flatted seventh (C natural in this case), because this note is drawn from the G tetrachord. This D major scale with a flatted seventh is the mixolydian mode in D.

The pattern continues to the top of the instrument and to the left-hand side of the treble bridge. Moving from the left side of the bass bridge to the right side of the treble bridge is analogous to moving from the right side of the treble bridge to the left side of the treble bridge.

This diatonically-based tuning results in most, but not all, notes of the chromatic scale being available in each key. To fill in the gaps, many modern dulcimer builders include extra short bridges at the top and bottom of the soundboard, where extra strings are tuned to some or all of the missing pitches. Such instruments are often called "chromatic dulcimers" as opposed to the more traditional "diatonic dulcimers".

Hammered dulcimers of non-European descent may have other tuning patterns, and builders of European-style dulcimers sometimes experiment with alternate tuning patterns.


The hammered dulcimer derives its name from the small mallets that players use to strike the strings, called hammers. They are usually made of wood, but can be made from any material, including metal and plastic. In the Western hemisphere, hammers are usually stiff, but in Asia, flexible hammers are often used. The head of the hammer can be left bare for a sharp attack sound, or can be covered with adhesive tape, leather, or fabric for a softer sound.

Several traditional players have used hammers that differ substantially from those in common use today. Paul Van Arsdale (b. 1920), a player from upstate New York, uses flexible hammers made from hacksaw blades, with leather-covered wooden blocks attached to the ends (these are modeled after the hammers used by his grandfather, Jesse Martin). The Irish player John Rea (1915-1983) used hammers made of thick steel wire, wound with wool. Billy Bennington (1900-1986), a player from Norfolk county in England, used cane hammers bound with wool.

Hammered dulcimers around the world

Versions of the hammered dulcimer are used throughout the world. In Eastern Europe a larger descendant of the hammered dulcimer called the cimbalom is played and has been used by a number of classical composers, including Zoltán Kodály and Igor Stravinsky, and more recently by Blue Man Group. The khim is a Thai hammered dulcimer. The Chinese yangqin is a type of hammered dulcimer that originated in Persia. The Santur and Santoor are found in the Middle East and India, respectively.

Names for the hammered dulcimer in different countries

  • Austria - Hackbrett
  • Belarus - Цымбалы (Tsymbaly)
  • Brazil - saltério
  • Cambodia - khim
  • China - yangqin
  • Czech Republic - cimbál
  • Denmark - hakkebrćt
  • Germany - Hackbrett
  • Greece - santouri
  • Hungary - cimbalom
  • India - santoor
  • Iran - santur
  • Italy - salterio
  • Korea - yanggeum
  • Laos - khim
  • Lithuania - cimbalai
  • Mexico - salterio
  • Mongolia joochin
  • Netherlands - hakkebord
  • Romania - ţambal
  • Russia - Цимбалы (Tsymbaly), Дульцимер (Dultsimer)
  • Spain - salterio
  • Sweden - hackbräda, hammarharpa
  • Switzerland - Hackbrett, Hachbrattli
  • Thailand - khim
  • Turkey - santur
  • Ukraine - Цимбали (Tsymbaly)
  • United Kingdom - hammered dulcimer
  • United States - hammered dulcimer
  • Vietnam - Đŕn tam thập lục (lit. "36 strings")
  • Yiddish - tsimbl

See also

  • List of hammered dulcimer players
  • List of hammered dulcimer builders
  • Four Hammer Dulcimer

Further reading

  • Gifford, Paul M. (2001), The Hammered Dulcimer: A History, The Scarecrow Press, Inc. ISBN 0-8108-3943-1. A comprehensive history of the hammered dulcimer and its variants.
  • Kettlewell, David (1976), The Dulcimer, PhD thesis. History and playing traditions around the world; web-version at

External links

  • Nay-Nava the encyclopedia of persian music instruments
  • The Hammered Dulcimer Page
  • Hammered Dulcimer Information
  • Hammered Dulcimer Sample Library & MP3 Demos
  • Klezmer Tsimbl (Related to the Hammered Dulcimer)
  • Smithsonian Institution booklet on hammered dulcimer history and playing
  • Smithsonian Institution booklet on making a hammered dulcimer (by Sam Rizzetta)
Retrieved from ""