dulcimer

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English[edit]

Photo of a hammered dulcimer
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Etymology[edit]

From Old French doulcemelle, probably from Latin dulce melos (sweet song), from Ancient Greek μέλος (mélos, melody, song).

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

dulcimer (plural dulcimers)

  1. (music) A stringed instrument, with strings stretched across a sounding board, usually trapezoidal. It's played on the lap or horizontally on a table. Some have their own legs. These musical instruments are played by plucking on the strings (traditionally with a quill) or by tapping on them (in the case of the hammer dulcimers).
    The two classes of dulcimer are the "Mountain" or "Appalacian" dulcimer (plucked and played with a quill, usually a goose quill) and the hammer dulcimer (played by tapping on the strings with small "hammers"). See also: zither
    • 1797, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Kubla Khan”, in The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Other Poems[1], Courier Dover Publications, ISBN 9780486272665, published 1992, page 59:
      A damsel with a dulcimer / In a vision once I saw: / It was an Abyssinian maid / And on her dulcimer' she played, / Singing of Mount Abora.
    • 1946 January 25, 1947, “Album Reviews: The Seven Joys of Mary—John: Jacob Niles (Disc 732)”, The Billboard, volume 59, number 4, Nielsen Business Media, ISSN 0006-2510, page 32: 
      Accompanying himself with his dulcimer, a plectrum instrument of his own handicraft, Niles harks back to the balladeers of old.
    • 2004, Madeline MacNeil, You Can Teach Yourself Dulcimer[2], Mel Bay Publications, ISBN 9780786639717, Introduction, page 4:
      Played traditionally, the dulcimer sounds delightful with drones acenting the melody you are playing.

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