Post by Dick Glasgow on Jul 1, 2007 18:59:48 GMT 1
The Courting Dulcimer
For over 150 years or more, courting couples in the Appalachian regions played music together, usually on separate instruments. Sometime in the mid to late 1800s, a Mountain craftsman built a single instrument with two fingerboards running in opposite directions. The courting dulcimer was born. A couple could sit close and across from each other, perhaps touching knees, and play and sing together. One story goes that if the couple could play well together, they were meant to be together. Another story: as long as the music could be heard, parents knew nothing untoward was happening. Duets on this instrument are beautiful.
Courting dulcimer-In the olden days it was quite proper for courting couples to be left alone in the parlor as long as the beautiful sounds of the dulcimer duet were heard behind the closed door. The courting dulcimer has a particularly big sound because of its large body. Two 18 fret frethoards with 28 1/2-inch vibrating string length. 3" x 15" x 43"
The courting dulcimer is designed to be played by 2 people at once. The players sit across from each other, and each has a dulcimer fingerboard to play on. Traditionally, the man plays the stronger side, which has 4 strings with a doubled melody string, while the lady plays the supporting side, with 3 strings, only a single melody string. Good fun! Soundboard made of laminated Baltic birch, body of maple.
Have many readers had the opportunity to hear a courting played? The (US) Mideastern Regional Dulcimer Championship is held annually in my "neck of the woods." It's true that the courting dulcimer is absolutely beautiful! (I wish my husband liked dulcimers! )
Last Edit: Jan 17, 2008 23:50:21 GMT 1 by dulcigal
The courting dulcimer is a really cool instrument. My parents played the courting dulcimer together since the mid 1970's after my Dad made one. (He made his first dulcimer in 1925!) Mom and Dad even made a recording of just them playing the courting dulcimer.
Today, my husband Bob, and I play this same instrument that Dad made in most of our concerts. We do have another courting dulcimer that was made for us for a wedding gift from cherry wood from our farm, but it needs a little work done on it to make it playable. We are just happy playing the one Dad made.
Bob's philosophy is that since the instrument has two "necks" on it, that is where the term "necking" came from!!!!! hahahahahaha.
My philosophy is that since Bob did not know how to play the instrument before he met me, I had to teach him everything he now knows about "courtin"!!!!!! hahaha
Anyway we have a lot of fun playing the instrument. I play the melody and he plays chords. It sounds wonderful.
Dulci-gal, many, many years ago, the Mideastern (Roscoe Village) Dulcimer Festival had a "courting dulcimer" contest. My parents and I started with the first festival there when I was a kid, and went for years and years until it sorta fell apart. Anyway, one year, right after Bob and I were married, sometime in the 1980's, Bob and I played in the contest against Mom and Dad. We had a tie and had to have a play off. Bob and I did eventually come out as the victors, but it wasn't easy to play against them! hahaha
As a side note, my mom is now in a nursing home (very sad), but earlier this spring, Bob and I took the courting dulcimer up there and played with her. She played until she was tired and then she had Bob play the chords while she still strummed and I played the melody. We were all 3 playing the instrument and it will be a memory that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life!