Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions

Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions

by Ralph Lee Smith

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Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions by Ralph Lee Smith

The Appalachian dulcimer is one of America's major contributions to world music and folk art. Homemade and handmade, played by people with no formal knowledge of music, this beautiful instrument entered the post-World-War-II Folk Revival with virtually no written record. Appalachian Dulcimer Traditions tells the fascinating story of the effort to recover the instrument's lost history through fieldwork in the Southern mountains, finding of old instruments, and listening to the tales of old folks.

After reviewing the instrument's distinctive musical features, Ralph Lee Smith presents the dulcimer's story chronologically, tracing its roots in a Renaissance German instrument, the scheitholt; describing the early history of the scheitholt and the dulcimer in America; and outlining the development of distinctive dulcimer styles in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Kentucky. The story continues into the 20th Century, through the final group of tradition-based Appalachian makers whose work flowed into the national scene of the Folk Revival.

This fully revised edition provides expanded information about the history of the scheitholt and the dulcimer before the Civil War and discusses traditions and types that are still being discovered and documented. Smith also adds his personal adventures in searching for the dulcimer's history. A new final chapter describes types and styles that do not fit conveniently into the mainstream development of the instrument. The book concludes with several appendixes, including measurements of representative dulcimers and listings of dulcimer recordings in the Archive of Folk Culture of the Library of Congress.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780810874121
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date: 03/19/2010
Series: American Folk Music and Musicians Series , #13
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 202
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Ralph Lee Smith is a leading authority on the history of the Appalachian dulcimer and is a performer and teacher of traditional American folk music. He is the author of Folk Songs of Old Virginia (2009) and Greenwich Village: The Happy Folk Singing Days, 1950s and 1960s (2008).

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Series Editor's Foreword xi

Preface: A Note about the New Edition xiii

Acknowledgments xv

Prologue: A Talk with Patrick Gainer in 1980 xvii

1 An American Heritage 1

2 Where Did the Dulcimer Come From? 15

3 Early Traces and Trails 35

4 Virginia Traditions 57

5 West Virginia and North Carolina Traditions 73

6 Dulcimers of Yesterday in the Cumberlands 93

7 Dulcimer Makers of the Folk Revival Transition 113

8 Some Interesting Types 131


A Library of Congress Dulcimer Recordings 147

B Measurements of Instruments 155

C The Ache Scheitholt: A Closer Look 163

D Winners of the Dulcimer Contest, Old Time Fiddlers Convention, Galax, Virginia 167

E Newspaper Story on Nineveh Presnell and His Dulcimer 171

F Ordering Dulcimers from Old-Time Makers 173

Annotated Bibliography 175

Index 179

About the Author 183

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