Monday, November 23, 2020

Analog Things: The Mountain Dulcimer


by Laurie Allee

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Are you looking for an acoustic instrument that is highly portable, easy-to-learn, inexpensive and capable of creating absolutely beautiful music?  Look no further than the mountain dulcimer.  This unassuming little instrument has been known by a variety of names: lap dulcimer, Appalachian dulcimer, Kentucky dulcimer, "dulcymore," harmonium, harmony box and (my favorite) hog fiddle.  Traditional to the southern Appalachian mountains of the US, this stringed instrument is one of the easiest to play.  Essentially a fretted zither, it commonly has three or four strings and can be played by plucking or strumming with a pick.

And it sounds AMAZING.
While primarily used to play folk music, in recent decades the mountain dulcimer has been plucked out of obscurity (see what I did there?) and embraced by musicians in a variety of genres.  As you can see in the video above, this instrument may be known for folk songs, but it happily jams with anything  you want it to play.     

If you (like me) have struggled learning the guitar, I highly suggest the dulcimer.  My daughter is a  gifted guitar, ukulele, mandolin and piano player, so she doesn't really mind when I borrow the dulcimer I gave her:  

Get ready for people to ask you, "Is that a lyre?  A lute? What is that?!"

Start learning to play here:


Stay tuned for more ways to spend your time offline.

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