CHAPTER 3: History to 1800

3.5 The Baroque, Rococo and Classical Periods 1600-1800

3.5.1 The west

1.3. The Middle Class in the 17th & 18th centuries: England and the Colonies - 7 of 7

passing references
Glasgow tuning-diagrams
Pepys' Diary
Mr. Pearson at Sadler's Wells
Grassineau's Musical Dictionary London 1740
dulcimers played & sold 1760s-1770s
instrument in York museum
four different spellings


A single 18th century instrument survives, in York museum; it is a remarkable instrument, with no soundhole, but painted geometrically-drawn roses in lieu, and a bass extension on the left. The wrest-pins are somewhat uneven, but it seems that there were 14V treble courses, and three groups of bass courses, 7III, 6II and 1I; a single treble bridge remains, so that the instrument was presumably of type 13.2. The label identifies it as the work of George Waitball of Walsingham: an interesting early association with East Anglia.

We note in conclusion that four different spellings of the name were used in this period: 'dulcimer', 'dulcimur', 'dulcimere' and 'dulcimore'; there must have been every shade of pronunciation of course, as always, but three main terminal vowels seem indicated: The last form is an interesting link with pronunciation standard today in the Appalachians, common in East Anglia, and occasionally heard in London. I have written elsewhere that the Harley MS has the spelling 'dulcimor' (136) but a closer examination of the writing shows that I had mistaken the 17thC. 'e' for an 'o'.