Papers between 1911-1920 mentioning dulcimores

Share tidbits of dulcimer history, or history of the songs we play on them

Papers between 1911-1920 mentioning dulcimores

Postby dbennett » Thu May 18, 2017 12:27 pm

British Ballads in the Cumberland Mountains
By Hubert Gibson Shearin
July 1911
Pages 1 (7 of the document) & 15 mention dulcimores

I haven't looked real close yet but the following papers by Howard Brockway seem to be essentially the same paper in different publications (publish or perish):

Art World, Volume 2 June 1917 Pages 227-230
Describes his Spring 1916 expedition into the Cumberland Moauntains in Kentucky with Loraine Wyman

page 229 has photo of a man playing dulcimer (I assume it's the author of the article) and a section titled "HOW TO PLAY THE DULCIMORE"

Papers and Proceedings of the Music Teachers' National ..., Volumes 14-1919
PAGES 59-67 (page 66 mentions "dulcimore")

Volume of Proceedings of the Music Teachers' National Association ...
December 1919 (Published 1920)
Dulcimore mentioned on page 66
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Re: Papers between 1911-1920 mentioning dulcimores

Postby strumelia » Thu May 18, 2017 3:18 pm

Brockway's 1917 article on "Quest of the Lonesome Tunes" is valuable in that it describes very clearly 3 strings, ionian tuning (perhaps CGG or DAA) and the fretting of only the melody string, the use of a feather or leather for a pick.... gut or wire strings, and using a small stick or quill for noting/noter. It also says the word "dulcimore" is accented on the LAST syllable. He also says that (at least at the time of his visit) he came upon dulcimores in people's homes more frequently than fiddles.

Though the article seems a bit romanticized, and we must take into account the 'settlement school effect', Brockway suggests that dulcimores were not uncommon in these remote mountains, but that banjos and guitars were found only in areas closer to transportation routes of railroads and stagecoaches. This jives with the current belief that banjos quickly traveled north via the popularity of the minstrel show, having originated in the South (banjo-like antecedent instruments having been first noted among Caribbean slaves in the early 1800s: ).
The early dulcimer however, as opposed to migrating into urban areas through general popular culture (which would happen later during the Folk Revival), seems to have evolved mostly in place, not far from where immigrants with their respective dulcimer antecedent instruments settled. This staying in place resulted in various types and shapes of dulcimers unique to each region- Virginia teardrop, Galax elipse, Pennsylvania, Kentucky hourglass, Tennessee box, Ohio, etc. The remoteness of the Appalachian geographical area also contributed to the dulcimer's very survival, hanging on in places protected from the waves of popular music fads periodically sweeping through more traveled and urban locations during the 1800 and 1900s.
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Re: Papers between 1911-1920 mentioning dulcimores

Postby Bob Gerard » Fri May 19, 2017 4:00 pm

Interesting stuff. Note the pronunciation of "dulcimore" with the accent on the last syllable. (Seems popular/modern to have the first syllable accented). Also interesting how the writer laments the encroachment of "civilization" ie, the approaching logging and mining trains, and the loss of this unique culture.
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Re: Papers between 1911-1920 mentioning dulcimores

Postby danc9 » Fri May 19, 2017 7:20 pm

Wonderful find!

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