Today In Mountain Ducimer History: 7 December 1917

A dose of mountain dulcimer history throughout the year

Today In Mountain Ducimer History: 7 December 1917

Postby dbennett » Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:44 am

poet, art director, and literary agent William Aspinwall Bradley (1878-1939) delivered a lecture about “Kentucky mountain folk.” The following is from the notice in the December 7, 1917 issue of the Columbia Spectator:

BRADLEY TO LECTURE ON MOUNTAIN FOLK
""Kentucky Mountain Folk" is the subject on which Mr. William Aspinwall Bradley will lecture before the Institute of Arts and Sciences this afternoon. Mr. Bradley has recently published "Old Christmas and Other Kentucky Tales in Verse" in which he describes the culture of the Cumberland Mountains. He will illustrate his address with lantern slides and will read some of his own poems. The lecture will be given at 4:15 p.m. in Room 309 Havemeyer. This is the first in a series/of lectures to be given under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture of Columbia."

In the May 1915 issue of Harper's monthly magazine Bradley wrote a 14-page article titled, “Song-Ballets and Devil’s Ditties.” On page 912 he writes of the Kentucky balladeer, “The singer frequently accompanies himself on banjo, fiddle, or dulcimer. This last is the traditional instrument of mountain music. Like Coleridge’s Abyssinian maid, the Kentucky girl is also a ‘damsel with a dulcimer,’ or rather she was before this odd and yet elegant instrument, which descends directly from Elizabethan England, and which looks not unlike a very slender and short-necked violin, began to disappear. It is strung with three strings, which are sometimes of gut, though generally of wire. Two of them are always tuned in unison, while the third is an octave lower... Occasionally the dulcimer — or ‘dulcimore,’ as it is called in the vernacular — is bowed, but more often it is plucked, the performer holding it lengthwise in his lap, producing the notes by pressing the string nearest him with a bit of reed held in his left hand, while his right hand sweeps all three with a quill or a piece of not too flexible leather. The two strings that are not pressed form a sort of bourdonnement, or drone-bass accompaniment, like a bagpipe.

"The tonal quality is very light — a ghostly, disembodied sort of music such as we may imagine to have been made by the harp in the ballad of ‘The Twa Sisters,’ although this instrument is formed, not from the bones of a drowned girl’s body, but from thinly planed and delicately curved boards of native black-walnut. Those which, like mine, are made by an old man who lives in a cabin at the mouth of the Doubles of Little Carr are pierced with four little heart-shaped openings
.”
Bradley William1.JPG

Bradley William2.JPG
Last edited by dbennett on Thu Dec 07, 2017 9:53 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Today In Mountain Ducimer History: 7 December 1917

Postby dbennett » Thu Dec 07, 2017 6:44 am

Harper's magazine. v.130 1914-1915 Dec-May. The May 1915 article by William Aspinwall Bradley starts on page 901
https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015056097432;view=1up;seq=6
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Re: Today In Mountain Ducimer History: 7 December 1917

Postby kwl » Thu Dec 07, 2017 12:06 pm

It is interesting to note that he thought the mountain dulcimer was descended from Elizabethan England. It shows how early this myth circulated in the folk community.

Ken
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Re: Today In Mountain Ducimer History: 7 December 1917

Postby dbennett » Fri Dec 08, 2017 4:27 pm

Bump
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