Bowed Dulcimer VS Tenor Viol???

It's a bow! It's a dulcimer. Now what do I do? :-)

Bowed Dulcimer VS Tenor Viol???

Postby Shape note singer » Thu Jun 21, 2012 9:57 pm

Would someone who knows please explain the similarities and differences between a bowed dulcimer and a tenor viol?
(You know, the medieval instrument that plays in a Consort of Viols?)

Number of strings and tuning, size, etc?
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Re: Bowed Dulcimer VS Tenor Viol???

Postby Ken Bloom » Sun Jun 24, 2012 10:28 am

Sorry it's taken me so long to respond. I just got home from a long trip. Bowed dulcimers have three or four playing strings of modern manufacture and easy availablility. They have metal frets and are relatively inexpensive when compared to tenor vios. Tenor viols have six strings on a fairly flat bridge. The strings are gut (costly and not so easily available). The frets are also gut and need to be replaced more frequently than the BD. Bowing the bowed dulcimer is easier because of the greater arch of the bridge. Each individual string is easier to get to and your bowing doesn't have to be so precise. Bowed dulicmers, being the shape they are, are easier to carry around. They are also generaly cheaper than tenor viols and tend to be more robust.
I patterned my design of the bowed dulcimer on the gamba and internally they are both very similar. I think of my bowed dulcimers as a modern version of the viol and I often play Early Music material on mine. Bowed dulcimers ar e also cheaper than viols and you have a greater selection of bows to choose from since most versions of the bowed dulcimer use a cello bow. If you have further questions, just ask. I'll be happy to throw in what I know.

Ken Bloom
http://www.boweddulcimer.com
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Re: Bowed Dulcimer VS Tenor Viol???

Postby Shape note singer » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:27 am

It's a busy time of year! Everyone is traveling on weekends for festivals and workshops. Wasn't expecting an instant reply.

Thanks for the info- I'm sure it seems like a silly question, but...
One of my kids learned to play viol at school where the school owns the instruments for the whole ensemble. You are right that viols are quite expensive! I had looked into buying one as a gift, but my young musician said No to the cost.

I had seen your BD playing on YouTube and was struck by the similarity in the manner of playing and the choice of early music melodies. So I began to wonder if a BD might be a possible alternative.

Besides, it would be a good excuse to get another dulcimer in the house.
Shape note singer
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Re: Bowed Dulcimer VS Tenor Viol???

Postby Ken Bloom » Mon Jun 25, 2012 9:34 am

I developed the bowed dulicmer with the thought in mind to have an instrument that sounded a lot like the viol but was more modern in its concept, care, and possible application. I'll be very happy to give you whatever info you want on the BD and we can do this either here at the forum or you can e=mail me directly at kbloom1@triad.rr.com. Because of the work involved, bowed dulcimers are more expensive than your average mountain dulcimer but way less than what you would have to spend for a viol. There are lots of folks around who have found that the bowed dulcimer satisfies a yen for a bowed instument and doesn't have the physical challenges that you get with the violin or the cello.

Ken Bloom
http://www.boweddulcimer.com
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