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

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Excerpts, 4 of 5

Havelock Mason, Turner's Universal Tutor for the Dulcimer, (diatonic and chromatic),1908

"A small cane about 1/2" in diameter can be split in half, and one end shaved down to allow of its being finished neatly and to decrease the thickness. This end is placed in hot water for some time to soften it, and is then fastened round a ruler or broom handle to form a loop and keep it in position, after which it is wound round with wool or crotchet cotton (sic), about four times folded.

"The beaters should be about 10" long and held between the thumb and first finger of each hand when the hand is closed - thus the beater follows or continues the line of the thumb. It must be particularly noted that the arm itself is not used in the beating movement - all the motion must be from the wrist only with the elbows touching the sides of the body. The beaters should strike the wires about 1/2" from the bridges, beware of striking other strings than those intended. In a general way it may be said that the loop of the beater is best for a continuous 'tremolo' but for ordinary striking the flat side is mostly used ...

"As will be seen from the diagram a number is given to each string, and as a few numbers are easily learnt it will be as well to remember them by these, and if necessary, a piece of paper with the number on can be temporarily stuck on the wood immediately below each string, to be removed, however, at the earliest possible moment .

"It is always advisable to strike with alternate beaters as far as possible, and in practising the following preliminary exercises this rule should be observed. After these have been played over several times the student should be able to go on to the familiar melodies which are all within the compass of the scales shown above.

"So far the pages of this book have been devoted to the more generally used Dulcimer tuned to a Diatonic scale, but for the purpose of making our treatise as complete as possible, it is necessary to refer to the Chromatic Instrument. This is not seen so frequently as the former - chiefly for the reason that its compass is not so great - two octaves being its usual scale - and for most purposes a perfectly chromatic octave in the middle register with a diatonic octave above and below gives a more useful range of notes. But, presuming we are in possesion of a chromatic Dulcimer we can leave arguments for or against it and proceed to a brief examination ... the accompanying diagram is sufficiently explanatory in itselt, so we need only add that it will be noticed that some of the notes are duplicated on both sides, owing to the formation of the scale itself ... Sometimes, in fact, Chromatic Dulcimers are made of a larger size, and are consequently tuned to a lower pitch, but this fact does not at all nfluence the arrangement of the strings."

Repertoire: Rouseau's Dream; Sweet Genevieve; the Merrivale Waltz

("This easy waltz is intended to illustrate the method of playing a melody and its accompaniment. The notes with upturned stems are to be struck forcibly with the right-hand beater to sustain the sound, the double notes (with stems turned downwards) are to be lightly sounded.")

Bluebell Waltz; O Susanna; Andante Surprise (Haydn); Still I love thee; Wedding March (Mendelssohn).