loved the mountain dulcimer ever
since I first saw and heard Joni
Mitchell play one on her
landmark album "Blue."
commissioned my first dulcimer
to be built by Thomas Payne, a
builder living in the Black
Forest near Colorado Springs.
private dulcimer lessons at my
home in Felton, California.
out more about West
Coast Dulcimer Culture
in the film "Hearts
of the Dulcimer,"
featuring Laura Devine, Neal
Hellman and many more of my
this photo by Paul Schraub I
am playing a tear drop shaped
dulcimer by Janita Baker of Blue Lion Instruments.
12 years I backed up Laura
Devine on originals,
folk ballads, old timey and
spirituals as DULCIMER
Girls's music was down home,
yet out of this world. We
played numerous festivals
and gigs of all sorts and
made one CD, "Old
Ways Are Leaving."
few copies of Old Ways Are
Leaving are still
$15 and your
P.O. Box 278
Felton, CA 95018
Girls were also included
on the Redwood Mountain
Dulcimer All Star
celebrating 10 years of Redwood
. The CD
selections from an
all-star list of dulcimer
and get your copy at
All proceeds benefit future
Redwood Dulcimer events and
the Community Music School of
Santa Cruz, a 501(c)3
by Michelle Kiba
Girls performances on
dulcimer has been called "America's
Oldest Folk Instrument," which means
it's actually relatively new, just
like America itself.
The dulcimer is a fascinating example
of cultural diversity and
assimilation. It's an instrument that
could only evolve in America, as
immigrants came to this country and
began to mingle and exchange ideas.
The word dulcimer means "sweet
melody." Some theorize it evolved in
the early 1800s out of a Pennsylvania
German zither called the scheitholt.
As the German people moved down the
hills in the late 1700s and early
1800s, they encountered Scots-Irish
people who were also in the area.
Scheitholts were adapted for playing
fiddle tunes and other Anglo-Celtic
music. Eventually, the settlers made
their own instruments, sometimes with
little more than bent nails for frets.
The dulcimer is appealing for a number
of reasons. First, it's easy to make
music on right away. It has a diatonic
scale and drone tunings. You can
sound good pretty quickly! Second,
old-timey music sounds good on it, but
it also lends a unique sound to more
contemporary music. Third, it's an
instrument that offers lots of options
in terms of tunings and string spacing,
and it can be plucked, flat picked or
strummed. Just like America, it
continues to evolve.