Monday, December 16, 2013

MONDAY'S MUSINGS: TOE TAPPING SOUNDS OF THE SEASON



The hammered dulcimer (aka cimbalom in Europe) is not a musical instrument one hears everyday and traditionally it has been used for folk music. The hammered dulcimer has been used by classical composers and has even been used in popular movies like Star Trek In Search Of Spock (when they were stealing the Enterprise) and also, more recently in Lord of The Rings The Two Towers (used to highlight how sneaky Gollum was).  It isn't a new instrument and has been around, in one form or another, since about 3500 BCE.

Dulcimer means sweet song from the Latin dulcis (sweet) and Greek melos (song). It does have a sweet sound but I like the energy and rhythm it can bring to a song. Here's a few selections of Christmas songs played on the Hammered Dulcimer. 


I particularly like the unusual sound it brings to this particular Christmas carol, The Little Drummer Boy. It's played by Ted Yoder.





Even with traditional carols the dulcimer brings a toe tapping energy to the beauty of the song.

I love the feeling of uplifting joy Mark Wade brings to this traditional Christmas song...he's able to capture the rich fullness of the song.



I'm a fan of Ted Yoder's playing. I love his energy and chord choices.


  • BTW, anyone know what famous group of singers first brought The Little Drummer Boy exposure? Care to guess what the original name of the song was?



14 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

I really like dulcimers too though I don't listen to them much.

Optimistic Existentialist said...

There's a little store here in Berea, KY that sells hand-made dulcimers. They're so beautiful!

Johanna Garth said...

Such sweet music! Now I'm feeling very holiday spirit-y. :)

Karen Walker said...

Ooh, I can hear the group singing Little Drummer Boy, but can't for the life of me think of their name. Oy!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

It is an unusual instrument. Nice sound though.
Think the original version was called Carol of the Drum.

Jo said...

Loved the music. I was familiar with dulcimers, but not very familiar.

No I can't remember who first brought The Little Drummer Boy into prominence.

Merry Christmas Sia, to you and your family as well as a Happy New Year.

Jo said...

I meant to say that it looks like hard work. I wonder how many dulcimer players end up with carpal tunnel.

Sharon Himsl said...

Very nice. Thank you. Merry Christmas! Shells–Tales–Sails

Liza said...

I love, love, love the hammered dulcimer. Thank you for this.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Natalie, I just love the energy and upbeat feeling that dulcimers give a song. :-)

Keith, how cool. I love watching how a craftsman put together an instrument. I have a very good friend who makes fabulous guitars. He lives in California but his guitars have been bought by some pretty big names. That's how good they are. It's amazing to see all these pieces of wood and then see how they're shaped and seasoned. Takes some time to create such an instrument. Not surprising,Rick has a waiting list for his guitars.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Johanna, for sure it puts you in the holiday mood. :-)

Karen, originally, the Von Trapp family sang it in 1955. My parents still have the original album. It was a bright pink. But in 1958, Harry Simeone Chorale changed Katherine Davis' words and arrangement a bit and it was on their album, Sing We Now Christmas. That seems to have been the magic album that really made the song take off. :-)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Alex, Correct. It was originally call the Carol of The Drum, when Katherine Davis wrote it and was based on a Czech carol--lost in the mists of time. Von Trapp Singers titled it Carol of The Drum. Harry Simeone retitled it as The Little Drummer Boy.

~Sia McKye~ said...

Jo--I imagine if you're prone to carpel tunnel, any repetitive motion would cause it. But musicians learn how to stretch and minimize it. If you watch a Dulcimer player you'll see there is really very little wrist movement. They use their whole arm.

Sharon--you're welcome.

Liza, I'm glad you enjoyed it!

~Sia McKye~ said...

This time of year, my work schedule is totally full leaving me very little time to blog but I will get around to say hi.