One of the most unusual instruments I play is hammered dulcimer. Tuning and number of strings vary from country to country. Generally, in the US and Western Europe, the hammered dulcimer has fifteen to sixteen courses per bridge. Each course has two to three strings. The stings are played by striking them with wooden hammers. Sometimes these hammers are covered with leather or felt for a softer sound. Just like any stringed instrument, the wood that the dulcimer is made out of and the type of strings have a big influence on the sound. In addition, the type of wood used for the hammers, how heavy they are, and how they are balanced impact the sound and responsiveness of the instrument. Most players will have several sets of hammers and will use different sets for different songs. The dulcimer is tuned in “boxes” which means that different parts of the dulcimer are in a different key and the same note might be in several places on the dulcimer! The tuning scheme is also different than most instruments in that the lowest notes are to the right and closest to the performer.
My dulcimer is fairly large so I haven’t used it in therapeutic settings yet. However, it has been a fun instrument to add to my repertoire.
What instrument have you always wanted to know a little more about? Let me know!