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Gypsy Style Music, which type of Dulcimer?


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I'm working with an Eastern European collaborator on an Eastern European Music project and love the sound of the Hammered Dulcimer and Cimbalom.

I have noticed there are many variations of the Hammered Dulcimer and want to find out which one to buy to play this style.

On ebay, we see the Thai Khim instruments with 14 rows of strings and I've seen the Persian variant called a Santoor with typically 9 rows.

I'm thinking neither is likely to be suitable but could be wrong.

Here's an example of the style I wish to play

What is this variation called and where might I find one ?

Also, what would I expect to pay for a new one or second-hand but usable for semi-professional use?  

 

 

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The hammered dulcimer David uses in this video is a Cloud Nine 17/16/8 chromatic made by Michael Allen. The current price is $1,895. https://cloudninemusical.com/Pages/17168.html  It also has dampers on it which may be an additional charge. I think gypsy music can be played on any hammered dulcimer. Of course, the more strings on the dulcimer, the more versatile it will be. With a hammered dulcimer you will.also need a stand, hammers, and a a tuning wrench.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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Instrument "style" and musical "style" aren't the right things to ask.  You need to know whether a particular type of hammered dulcimer can play a particular range of notes -- chromatic or diatonic.   Also what tunings are used on instruments playing the music you're interested in.  

There really is no such thing as "Gypsy  Style" music.  The tribes of Romany which live in Eastern Europe play Eastern Czech or Hungarian or Polish or Ukranian or other cultural music.  The tribes in Spain and France play Spanish and French music.  

IMHO neither the Khim or other Asian instruments,  nor the Middle Eastern instruments are going to have the available tunings and range of notes to play "Eastern European" music.  You'll want to look at one of the cimbalom variants -- either the large full-blown concert cimbalom, or on of the simple folk versions like those used in Belarus.

 

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Thank you Ken!  I'm in Australia and our Dollar is worth less than monopoly money at the moment so it looks like my 30 Button Anglo Concertina might have to go to a new home.  The Cloud nine instruments do look first class.  Could you please explain to this humble novice what the figures 17/16/8 refer to?  

 

Do you know much about the aforementioned Belarussian Folk Cimbalom?  I wonder if this might be an option?  

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17/16/8 refers to the number of sets of strings crossing each bridge. The first number tell us that 17 sets of string (usually two or three per set) cross the treble bridge. The treble is on the left hand side of the instrument and is played on both sides. There are 16 sets of strings going over the bass bridge to the right side of the instrument and is only played on the left side of the bridge. The 8 refers to an extra bridge that extends the bass range of the dulcimer by 8 notes.

The cimbalom was invented in Hungary and adopted many Eastern European cultures. While I am sure there are variations in shape and construction, I think they are all basically the same varying only in the number of courses and strings over both bridges.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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Thanks Ken.  Very informative.   Looking at the Cloud nine site I see that the 17/16/8 is a pro level instrument and I would no doubt be more realistic looking at a

15/14 or a  16/16 Model.  I wonder if these ever turn up 2nd hand?  

The Cimbalom is also an intriguing instrument and a buddy of mine has connections in Belarus and Ukraine; I'll keep researching and try to work out my best option.

Much appreciated is your advice as the Dulciner world is totally new to me and information seems scant on the Web.

Thanks again!  

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I am not familiar with a Dennis Murphy who makes/made hammered dulcimers, but there are many HD builders I've never heard of or seen their instrument. This one appears to be well made. I like the handle which makes it easier to carry . It looks like it is a 12/11 which is good size for a beginner. As you become familiar with the dulcimer and more skilled at playing, you may want to move up to a larger instrument. 

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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  • 2 weeks later...

To follow on, lve discovered a small company in the US called Songbird Dulcimers who make budget priced instruments that look and sound pretty good.

They make a chromatic dulcimer priced at a fraction of what some instruments cost.

Though they are only double strung rather than 3 strings.

Are these Songbird Dulcimers any good?

The chromatic one pictured does sound very nice and has the lower register that is used a lot in the Balkan style I like.

The wood is Cherry over Ply, with maple blocks and bridges.  They call it the "phoebe" model.  

 

Also I've seen the phrase " American tuning in 5ths" 

Almost all American players seem to play a Celtic of music which sounds very nice, but is 5ths Tuning going to work with the Balkan/Gypsy style im aiming for?

The US/Celtic style is typically very bright and Major sounding whereas the Balkan Style is darker and .Minor sounding with Altered and Harmonic Minor scales used extensively. 

I'm not sure how the Tsimbaly or Cimbalom of Eastern Europe is tuned, but of course  it could be the same.

 

IMG_0349-700x467.jpg

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I would not recommend the first instrument for you. It is too limited as far as notes go. Songbird dulcimers are excellent instruments and should play the music you want to play without any problems. Tuning on any hammered dulcimer can be changed according to the music you want to perform. Most pairs of strings can be raised or lowered a step or two without any problems. I think you are worry too much about the instrument. You can play all types of music on the typical hammered dulcimer. 

Tuning in 5ths refers to the "boxes" where you start on the bass bridge, play 5 notes and then cross over to the treble bridge to get the next 2 notes of the scale (diatonic tuning). It generally provides two or three octaves with a least one being fully chromatic. Now having said all of this, I'm not a hammered dulcimer player. I've made three of them and play around with one. I have read extensively about their construction, tuned many instruments for people, attended a few workshops on playing, and listened to many performers. My answers to your questions come from this experience. One day someone with much more experience with the HD may come along and provide better answers for you. 

Best wishes as you search for the right dulcimer for you.

Ken

"The dulcimer sings a sweet song."

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Thanks very much Ken.  I'm learning as I go and you are a great help to me for clearing up confusion and steering me in the right direction.

I like the Songbirds from what I see and hear.

Now armed with sound advice, I feel more confident to make the right choice!  

 

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