dulcimer(redirected from Appalachian dulcimers)
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a hammered stringed instrument. The dulcimer consists of a flat wooden body in the shape of a trapezoid, with strings stretched over the upper soundboard. The sound is produced by striking two wooden sticks or hammers against two to five metal strings. The instrument’s range extends from E in the bass clef to E in the third octave.
An ancient instrument, the dulcimer is depicted on ancient Assyrian monuments. It has been known in Western Europe since the 18th century; it achieved its greatest popularity in Hungary and Slovakia. The Moldavian (ţambal, the Armenian and Georgian santir and tsintsila, and the Uzbek chang are all related to the dulcimer. The chromatic dulcimers developed in the late 19th century by the Hungarian master craftsman V. Schunda formed an instrument family by adding an alto, bass, and contrabass dulcimer to the original dulcimer; such dulcimers are used in folk orchestras. In 17th-century Russia the harpsichord was called a dulcimer.
I. F. Stravinsky included a dulcimer part in The Fox and Ragtime for 11 instruments.