And on this forum, I have just suggested something a bit revisionist, on Thud's thread about "Dulcimers in 1900s Minnesota." What if a Civil War soldier of Scandinavian background (presumably a Union soldier) brought the psalmodikon to the Tennessee Valley? I've held this theory for years -- a few decades, in fact (after I saw my first half dozen psalmodikons, in 1981). But I never realized that it might actually be plausible. That realization has overcome my preferred state of inertia, and led me to start this topic. Here's a bit of background, that I dropped into a little fracas I was having last winter with the kindly and gentle Berimbau, on a popular thread I started [Zitter to dulcimer in the Cumberland River Valley]:
razyn wrote:This gets into what one might mean by "the dulcimer's actual development." My contention is that it "actually" developed very differently, at different times and places. (The TN Music Box is another example, better known through the efforts of Sandy Conatser -- but if you read her footnotes, especially in the reprint of the 1998 Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin piece she co-authored with the late David Schnaufer, you will find her quoting my correspondence, some of it from the early 1960s.)
I may even get around to putting out another example or two, *not* from the Cumberland River valley. Like, How the Hourglass Shape Began. And, Taking the Music Box to Church.
I actually did get off the dime and write that Hourglass essay. But I never did the other one (about the Music Box), in part because my ability to upload photos to Photobucket has been compromised. (I have to use my wife's computer, a nuisance to us both.) I'll just fold that discussion (the church part) into this thread, eventually.
Meanwhile, the aforesaid Conatser/Schnaufer article is available in a Web form, recently cited in the ED Making Dulcimers forum:
Not to flog a dead horse or anything, but note that (apart from actual instruments, with reminiscences and photos from the families of their owners) the earliest secondary or critical sources cited are my personal correspondence (from 1963) with Gerald Young and Rebecca Pevahouse; a 1971 article by me in The Magazine Antiques; and a 1973 paper by a student of mine at Vanderbilt, Donna Roe Daniell. [I'm identified in the article as "Dr. Richard H. Hulan," one of my aliases.] Donna Roe had discovered (and mapped) much of the information about the Goodman family, primary commercial suppliers of this form. She was led to them by interviewing the daughter of an original Goodman customer, Miss Ida Sharp -- one of (I believe) only three traditional TMB players documented while they were yet able to play. I drove Donna to see Miss Ida, whom I had met the previous summer while doing some architectural history work in Savannah, TN.
I'm just saying. I didn't discover the TMB, or anything; but I was working on this patch pretty actively, longer ago than anybody else who's been writing about it (and is still alive). Actually, my introduction to the form came via the photo of one of Henry Steele's instruments (the one farthest to the right, on p. 7) in John Putnam's little 1961 dulcimer instruction book, from Berea. John was my friend, from the winter of 1957-58 until his untimely death about 25 years ago. His booklet isn't cited by Conatser/Schnaufer, though Henry Steele is, in fact, discussed in their NEXT oldest secondary source -- the Flemish one, of 1976, by Hubert Boone. I've never seen this work, but Greg (Banjimer on ED) has it, and has sent me copies of some pages.
That's kind of a long-winded and perhaps immodest introduction, of the kind most tactfully left to somebody else. I have overcome my usual self-effacing humility to establish the fact that, if I offer a crackpot theory of the origin of the TMB form, it is a highly informed, and academically credentialed, crackpot theory. I already offered it, in a way, yesterday on Thud's Minnesota thread:
razyn wrote:KenH wrote:Your father was in Brackett's Battalion of Cavalry or the First Regiment of Minnesota Infantry, both of which saw serious, long term service in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, etc. Daddy either "consorted" with a local girl whose family had a 'dulcemore', or otherwise (make up your own less racy story if you want!) brings home a 'war trophy'
I kinda skimmed over this the other day when you posted it. But, actually, I've always thought there was a hint of the psalmodikon in the ancestry of the Tennessee Music Box (not its historical name). The First MN Inf didn't serve in that area, nor really in the dulcimer-using parts of VA; but Brackett's cavalry certainly did. They were stationed in the prime TMB country, and other dulcimer country of Middle TN, for nearly two years, starting in Feb. 1862. Even in my home county. Garrison Fork (of Duck River) includes some of my childhood swimming and fishing holes. Confederate units from there, including some ancestors and uncles of mine, engaged your guys all through that period.
So, sure, your character may have brought home some kind of dulcimer; but he may also have left behind an instrument from home. With a fretboard atop a rectangular box, and the tuners at the right (the picking end) -- instead of where everybody else in Dulcimer-America puts them. Turning that psalmodikon into a TMB wouldn't have taken much more than adding a couple of drones, and omitting some frets, to bring it in line with the older tradition of zitter-derived instruments, already established there in the Tennessee and Cumberland valleys.
Ken H, do you know of any roster info indicating that there were any Swedes or Norwegians in Brackett's unit?
And it goes on from there. There were at least five Norwegian-born soldiers in Brackett's cavalry battalion, operating in the Tennessee River Valley for varying periods -- most of them from Feb. 1862 until May or July, but one of them for nearly two years (until December, 1863). [There may also have been Swedes in the unit; my source only tracked Norwegian Americans.] Any of the above might have had a psalmodikon, and might have left it (or the idea of it) in the area in which -- as far as we know -- the TMB form arose almost immediately after the Civil War. For any who may wish to map these Tennessee wanderings of the Minnesota Norwegians, I'll paste in the service data on Brackett's Battalion of Cavalry, from the online source Ken Hulme provided:
Brackett's Battalion Cavalry
Companies "A," "B" and "C" organized at Fort Snelling, Minn., as 1st, 2nd and 3rd Companies, Minnesota Light Cavalry, September to November, 1861. Ordered to Benton Barracks, Mo., November, 1861, and attached to Curtis Horse, an Independent Regiment of Cavalry, which was later designated 5th Iowa Cavalry. Assigned as Companies "G," "T" and "K." Duty at Benton Barracks, Mo., until February, 1862. Moved to Fort Henry, Tenn., February 8-11. Served unassigned, Dept. of the Tennessee, to November, 1862. District of Columbus, Ky., 13th Army Corps, Dept. of the Tennessee, to December, 1862. District of Columbus, Ky., 16th Army Corps, Dept. Tennessee, to June, 1863. 1st Brigade, Turchin's 2nd Cavalry Division, Army of the Cumberland, to October, 1863. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army of the Cumberland, to December, 1863. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, Cavalry Corps, Army Cumberland, to January, 1864.
SERVICE.--Engaged in patrol duty during battle of Fort Donelson, Tenn. Expedition to destroy railroad bridge over Tennessee River February 14-16. 1862. Duty at Forts Henry and Heiman, Tenn., until February 5, 1863, and at Fort Donelson, Tenn., until June 5, 1863. Moved from Fort Henry to Savannah, Tenn., March 25-April 1, 1862. Moved toward Nashville, Tenn., repairing roads and erecting telegraph lines April 3-6. Advance on and siege of Corinth, Miss., April 29-May 30. Acting as escorts to Telegraph Corps, Lockridge Mills, May 5. Occupation of Corinth May 30, and pursuit to Booneville May 31-June 12. Duty at Humboldt until August, 1862. Scouting and protecting railroad. Action at Fort Donelson, Tenn., August 25. Cumberland Iron Works August 26. Expedition to Clarksville September 5-9. New Providence September 6. Clarksville September 7. Scout toward Eddyville October 29-November 10. Expedition from Fort Heiman December 18-28. Fort Donelson February 3, 1863, Duty at Fort Donelson until June. Moved to Murfreesboro and Nashville, Tenn., June 5-11. Scout on Middleton and Eagleville Pike June 10. Expedition to Lebanon June 15-17. Lebanon June 16. Middle Tennessee or Tullahoma Campaign June 23-July 7. Guy's Gap, Fosterville, June 25. Guy's Gap. Fosterville and Shelbyville, June 27. Occupation of Middle Tennessee until September. Moved to McMinnville September 6-8, and operating against guerrillas until October. Operations against Wheeler and Roddy September 30-October 17. Garrison Creek near Fosterville and Wartrace October 6. Sugar Creek October 9. Tennessee River October 10. At Maysville until January, 1864. Expedition from Maysville to Whitesburg and Decatur November 14-17, 1863, to destroy boats on the Tennessee River. Outpost duty on line of Tennessee River from south of Huntsville to Bellefonte, Ala., November and December, 1863. Veteranized January 1, 1864. Battalion moved to Minnesota January 7. Detached from 5th Iowa Cavalry February 25, 1864, and designated Brackett's Battalion, Minnesota Cavalry. Duty at Fort Snelling, Minn., to May, 1864. March from Fort Snelling to Sioux City May 2-25. Sully's Expedition against hostile Indians west of the Missouri River June 4 to November 10, 1864. March to Fort Sully June 4-15. March to Fort Rice June 28-July 7. Pursuit of Indians to the Bad Lands July 19-28. Battle of Tah Kah A Kuty or Killdeer Mountain July 28. Passage of the Bad Lands of. Dakota Territory August 3-18. Action at Two Hills, Bad Lands, Little Missouri River, August 8-9. Relief of Fiske's Emigrant train September 10-30. At Fort Ridgley, Minn., until spring of 1865. Sully's operations against Indians May to October, 1865. Patrol duty from Sioux City to Fort Randall, Headquarters at Sioux City, October, 1865, to May, 1866. Mustered out June 1, 1866.
Regiment lost during service 4 Enlisted men killed and 1 Officer and 6 Enlisted men by disease. Total 11.
So much for the plausibility part. I have no evidence that these specific Norwegians carried a psalmodikon to the Tennessee Valley. But there ARE several documented soldiers from the psalmodikon-using population who were stationed, at length, in the most relevant part of the Tennessee Valley during 1862 and 1863.
Psalmodikons, and early Tennessee Music Boxes, are rectangular (unlike almost all other dulcimers); and they have their tuning mechanism at the player's right (unlike almost all other dulcimers).