Skip to main content

The Hammered Dulcimer in America

To most Americans the hammered dulcimer is a new and unfamiliar musical instrument. Even people who know quite a bit about American folk music often confuse the hammered dulcimer with the three--or four--stringed "Appalachian" or "mountain" dulcimer, an entirely different instrument. Yet, surprisingly, this ancient ancestor of the modern piano was once popular throughout this country.

The hammered dulcimer probably originated at least a thousand years ago in the Near East. From there dulcimers spread throughout North Africa, Europe and Asia. Contact with the Moors in Spain led to introduction of the instrument to Western Europe in the 11th ...

Read Full Article

Support the Folklife Festival, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, sustainability projects, educational outreach, and more.