Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions by Ralph Lee Smith

By Ralph Lee Smith

This publication describes the restoration of the Appalachian dulcimer's misplaced historical past, tracing the dulcimer's roots in a German software, the scheitholt; describing the early historical past of the scheitholt and the dulcimer in the USA, and outlining the improvement of exact dulcimer kinds in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky. This totally revised and extended variation offers additional info concerning the instrument's historical past sooner than the Civil struggle and discusses traditions and kinds which are nonetheless being came upon and documented.

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The first note of the Ionian scale is at the third fret, and a single do-to-do scale runs from fret 3 to fret 10. The head and sound holes exhibit highly creative design and fine craftsmanship. In addition, the instrument is accompanied by some rare documentation. Written inside the lid of the instrument’s wooden box are the maker’s name, the month and year it was made, the owner’s name, and a list of songs, one of which is laid out in crude tablature. ” He was the apparent owner. ” A list of hymns is lightly penciled inside the box cover.

As she conducted her study, Burnette-Dean recorded all mentions of musical instruments. The fiddle was clearly the most popular. A total of 103 were listed in the records, with the earliest being in Bedford County in 1780. Remarkably, dulcimers, at 39, were next! The earliest ones were recorded in 1818, in both Bedford and Franklin counties. Equally interesting, there were no banjos listed. Perhaps homemade banjos existed but were regarded as having too little value to include in the inventories.

Dave Van Ronk has the oak dulcimer that his grandfather made. It is the kind of dulcimer that is commonly made in the Beech Mountain area; the best-known maker from that area is Edd Presnell. Abrahams’s response really piqued my curiosity! I wrote to Edd Presnell, providing the information Abrahams had given me and asking Presnell if he knew who the maker might be. He sent me a handwritten reply. C. Dec 17, 1968 Dear Mr. Smith Thank you for your letter regarding who made your old Dulcimer. After making a few phone calls I contacted Edna Shepherd now remarried who was the wife of Frank Glenn the man who made your Dulcimer.

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