CHAPTER 4: Dulcimers in the British Isles since 1800 > Dulcimers in Scotland

Jimmy Cooper

- interviewed by Alan Ward in Traditional Music, No.7, mid-1977 - 1 of 11

This was not part of the 1976 thesis, but was added in 2002

The great dulcimer player from Coatbridge near Glasgow tells his own life story.

Learning & busking

"Well, I started to play the dulcimer when I was about 12 year old, that's away about 1918-19. I played myself to learn the job. It was a great instrument during that time in Glasgow way back from the 1900s. 'Cause I remember when I was at school, there was a man used to come round the school with his dulcimer, and it was really my older brothers after the First World War that decided to make one, and that started it. See they used to play it but I wouldn't get touching it - I was only young then. And when they'd all gone out my mother used to tell me 'Come on up, there's nobody in', and I got stuck in! ...

But before that I was on the penny tin-whistle - I was only about six year old, I could play that. But I was never taught music, no musical education. And we used to have open-air dancing - no money, nobody'd any money then anyway. See the place that we worked in, the houses belonged to them ironworks you see. When the works shut down about 1920-21, they got slack, they were maybe a week on and a week off. Then all the people would collect round about, and we'd have open-air dancing, and I played to it myself, the dulcimer alone, without any other accompaniment. And then some melodeon player heard about me playing it and he come down and listened and he says 'Right, I'm going to come along and make a band'. So we got together.