CHAPTER 4: Dulcimers in the British Isles since 1800 > Dulcimers in the Midlands & the North

Leslie Evans - repertoire

Leslie Evans' repertoire was probably unique among dulcimer-players, combining the usual popular songs - Follow the van, I belong to Glasgow, She's my lady love, Daisy Daisy, as one selection, for instance, with hymns, sacred songs, like Bless This House, and such classics as Beethoven's well-known Minuet in G and Handel's Silent Worship.

Of particular interest is his vivid imitation of bells. imediately so because of the similar pieces published in the printed tutors, but much more because of his treatment, which is remarkable in its realism, even to the extent of reproducing the unevenness of a team of ringers who have not practised during the summer months. The sensitivity towards dynamics which resulted in the fade at the end is, I think, unique among the older generations of British Isles players.

The life-like ticking of My grandfather's clock is produced by plucking the bass strings to the right of their bridge, the residual portion which is too short for normal use; and the snapping of the spring at the end is produced from the same string portions.

When asked if there were any particular dulcimer tunes, ones that were not played on anything else, he replied:

"There was one, I got it out of the library, in Town, through this Lady I was with, she went and got this book on dulcimers, she says, 'Here, Leslie,' she says, 'there's a tune here, written for the dulcimer, 400 years old,' ... it's not much of a tune, it went something like this ... "

- and he proceeded to play a tune which, in spite of superficial differences, is readily identifiable as the melody, by now rather familiar, from Wyss' 1826 Bern collection of Ranzes des Vaches.

When I expressed surprise at the mention of a "book on dulcimers, Mr. Evans suggested that it was probably a book about instruments, with something on the dulcimer in it; he was aware of the Assyrian relief, which he described in graphic detail, and this would tentatively identify the source as the 1911 transcript of Southgate's lecture. Mr. Evans concluded that

"it didn't register with me as a good tune, it was a tune for that age ...