CHAPTER 7: Controversies and Misunderstandings

12 of 17 - Changes after 1750

Here we are looking at Dr. Marcuse's account of changes she says were made from about 1750, resulting from the impact of the Pantaleon (10).

Aside from the lack of textual evidence connecting the Pantaleon with other dulcimers, there are no surviving dulcimers with any of the characteristic Pantaleon features (double soundboard, gut strings, 200 strings, extraordinary length), at least until 19th-century cimbaloms acquired the Pantaleon's range. Dr. Marcuse mentions four aspects, none of which seems to be typical for instruments from after 1750:

- the enlarging of the case
(this is not seen on instruments dating from earlier than the 19th century, unless she is referring to the extension in length of 18th-century soundboards;
- the abolition of 'projecting tilted boards' for tuning pins and hitch pins, the former "being inserted into the case proper"
(this is the reverse of Norlind's chronology, and in fact both types have continued in use side by side from the 16th century to the present day);
- the replacement of large numbers of thin strings per course by thicker bichord or at most trichord courses
(only Marneukirchen PatmC dçs 840, the dulcimers of American,nd smaller yang ch'ins give grounds for this statement; elsewhere IV and V were, and are, normal);
- "finally, in order to obtain the maximum string length for the basses, the lowest strings were given the entire length of the soundboard"
(the bass courses have always used the entire length of the soundboard: the addition of left-hand bass bridges increased the number of bass strings at the longest part of the instrument, certainly, but this arrangement was widely used before 1750 as well as after, and was shown by Mersenne as early as 1636).

Dr. Marcuse's hypothesis does receive a little support from one modern author: Dr. van der Meer mentions double-sided Hackbretts ("doppelsaitig bezogene Hackbretter") in Germany and the Netherlands, apparently in the 18th century (84) a cndtruction detail whichcertainly seem to be inspired by the Pantaleon - if indeed he is not actually describing Pantaleons (but see McKenzie patent, fig. 175).