Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Name that instrument - The Hammered Dulcimer

On Patty's Day I tend to eat homemade Irish scone, drink Irish coffee and listen to the Harp. I can hear the Irish Sea in that instrument's hypnotic notes and I'm transported to the land of my Mother's birth  But this St. Patty's Day I was introduced to an instrument I had never heard before - the Hammered Dulcimer.  What a beautiful sounding instrument this is.  From the corner of Callahan's Pub and Brewery on Mira Mesa Blvd in San Diego,  Jim Przywara gently played this beautiful string instrument as the crowd enjoyed their Guinness and Harp. The conversations were plentiful  as you can imagine, yet those sweet notes routinely stopped more than a few sentences as people turned towards the corner to see where the music was coming from.  The hammered dulcimer was clearly a hit with the customers. Jim played a variety of tunes that blended perfectly with the ambience of the day.  I heard more than one person say in the midst of a conversation, "What kind of instrument is that?"  So, I went up and asked Jim. 

Apparently the hammered dulcimer has been around since the Middle Ages and  has been experiencing a come back over the last 10 years or so.  Jim, himself, has been playing the string instrument for the last 5 years.  The dulcimer is the string trapezoidal instrument and the hammer comes from the wood mallets that you see hitting the strings.  Jim said the instrument started in the Middle East and made its way to Europe by way of China's Silk road.  The hammered dulcimer has many names depending on the country and the number of strings can also vary.  As for the sound, this customer can tell you that it is very sweet and soothing and I'm lucky to have been there when Jim was playing.  'This the luck of the Irish.  Thank you Jim and thanks to Callahans for having him play on Patty's Day.

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