The hammered dulcimer in the Southern Appalachian old time string band music of North Carolina, Southwest Virginia, and West Virginia

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael Alan Wood (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Randy Kohlenberg

Abstract: The hammered dulcimer, although present since early in American history, has within the past few decades encountered a resurgence of popularity with some players performing the traditional Appalachian string band music known as Old Time. Although present in small pockets in areas such as West Virginia and Randolph and Guilford counties in North Carolina for well over 100 years, the instrument was mostly unknown to the general population. Although not commonly considered historically authentic by the Old Time community, the hammered dulcimer has been a part of the rural American soundscape for over two centuries. The relative popularity of the instrument, however, waned around the turn of the twentieth century as pianos and guitars became more commonplace. The instrument nearly died out of common usage until the latter part of the folk revival during the 1970s and 1980s when dulcimer construction and playing experienced a rebirth. The instrument underwent significant changes that made it more portable and better in tune. Old Time music festivals have played an important role in the pedagogy of the genre. Competitions and "jam" sessions at these festivals strengthened the Old Time community by providing a social outlet for learning repertoire and style. However, hammered dulcimer players were sometimes excluded from these events. The result of this study showed that hammered dulcimer players learned the Old Time music repertoire separate from the Old Time establishment and perform the genre in bands created outside of the festival experience. Dulcimer players also formed their own instrument-specific festivals that featured classes and performances solely for mountain and hammered dulcimers. These players continue to be a part of the Old Time community. However, their experience differed greatly from more common instruments in the genre such as fiddle, banjo, and guitar.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2012
Appalachian, Dulcimer, Folk, Hammer Dulcimer, Hammered Dulcimer, Old Time
Dulcimer $x History
Old-time music $z Appalachian Region, Southern
Folk music festivals $z Appalachian Region, Southern

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