CHAPTER 4: Dulcimers in the British Isles since 1800 > 'British' dulcimers 1800-1945

Street musicians between the wars

Although the First War is supposed to have been great leveller of social class, one is still very much aware of the old attitudes in the writings of the '20s and '30s.

"I have heard it played in so-called Hungarian bands in England, and one musical mendicant of twenty-five years ago lingers in my memory, for I used to hear him play a rather shabby dulcimer in the suburban trains of the Great Eastern Railway"

wrote Pulver in 1923; one wonders if it is simply coincidence that it should have been an East Anglian train, and the tuning he gave is one which, to the author's knowledge, is now used only in East Anglia (here) although it was more general at this time.

Percy Scholes spoke of it still being "heard occasionally in the London streets or entertaining the waiting queues at the doors of theatres", and Odham's British Encyclopaedia also mentions it "in the hands of street musicians".

Whilst we may feel sad that such writers did not delve a little more deeply into the nature of the instruments past which they strode on their way to the concert hall, we do have other records of the time.