The Appalachian Lap Dulcimer


The Appalachian Dulcimer, also known as the mountain, lap or fretted dulcimer is a more modern fretted stringed instrument of the zither family which originated in the Appalachian mountains with some ancestral ties to earlier German, French and Scandinavian instruments. Appalachian dulcimers typically contain 3 to 5 strings tuned to the 1st and 5th notes on the diatonic scale of a particular key. The wooden body extends the length of a fretted fingerboard. Dulcimers produce a characteristic soft-sounding but bright droning sound. The dulcimer is played typically by resting the body of the instrument on your lap and picking or strumming the strings with the fingers or with a flat pick while a slide is used by the other hand to depress the strings up and down different frets to create melodic accompaniment in a diatonic scale. In recent years, the Appalachian dulcimer has undergone a revolution in both construction and playing styles and many clubs and dulcimer festivals have sprung up all over the nation. The name "dulcimer" is derived from Latin, meaning "sweet sound", and when hearing a dulcimer playing for the first time, that is indeed an accurate description of this folk instrument.