The Story of the Dulcimer

The Story of the Dulcimer

by Ralph Lee Smith

Paperback(2nd Edition)

Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Perhaps no instrument better represents the music of Appalachia than the fretted dulcimer. The instrument was no longer confined to back porches and local music halls when Jean Ritchie so melodically thrust herself and her dulcimer into the national limelight during the folk revival of the 1950s. But where did the dulcimer, known to exist in no other folk culture in the world, come from? In The Story of the Dulcimer, Ralph Lee Smith traces the dulcimer's beginnings hack to European immigration to America in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. As German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania and Appalachia, they brought with them scheitholts, a type of northern European fretted zither. As German immigrants intermingled with English and Scotch-Irish immigrants, the seheitholt, which was customarily played to a slower tempo in German cultural music, began to be musically integrated into the faster tempos of English and Scotch-Irish ballads and folk songs. As Appalachia absorbed an increasing flow of English and Scotch-Irish immigrants and the musical traditions they brought with them, the scheitholt steadily evolved into an instrument that reflected this folk music amalgamation, and the modem dulcimer was born. In this second edition, Smith brings the dulcimer's history into the twenty-first cent new preface and updates to the original edition. Copiously illustrated with images of both antique scheitholts and contemporary dulcimers, The Story of the Dulcimer is a testament to the enduring musical heritage of Appalachia and solves one of the regions musical mysteries.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781621902386
Publisher: University of Tennessee Press
Publication date: 08/19/2016
Series: Charles K. Wolfe Music
Edition description: 2nd Edition
Product dimensions: 7.90(w) x 9.90(h) x 0.40(d)

About the Author

RALPH LEE SMITH is a musician specializing in traditional Appalachian music and, along with the late Jean Ritchie, is widely regarded as the leading authority on the music and history of the dulcimer. He is the author of seven collections of folk songs relating to the dulcimer. He recently published a memoir/songbook, Greenwich Village: The Happy Folk Singing Days, 1950s-1960s, which recounts his time in New York City during the folk revival.

Table of Contents

Foreword Ted Olson ix

Preface to the Second Edition xi

Preface to the First Edition xxi

Acknowledgments xxiii

Chapter 1 An American Folk Heritage 1

Chapter 2 Peoples of the Frontier 5

Chapter 3 The Trail of the Scheithott 11

Chapter 4 Searching for the Beginnings 25

Chapter 5 The Flowering of the Virginia Style 35

Chapter 6 The Hourglass Dulcimer 53

Postscript. What Ever Became of the Scheitholt? 65

Appendix A Catalog of Instruments 69

Appendix B Vibrating String Lengths 87

Appendix C Dimensions of Prichard and Thomas Dulcimers 91

Appendix D The Preservers 93

Appendix E An 1817 Dulcimer? 97

Notes 101

Customer Reviews