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The Story of the Dulcimer (Charles K. Wolfe Music Series) Paperback – July 19, 2016
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—Scott Suter, author of Shenandoah Valley Folklife
In The Story of the Dulcimer, Ralph Lee Smith traces the dulcimer’s beginnings back to European immigration to America in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. As German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania and Appalachia, they brought with them scheitholts, a type of northern European fretted zither. As German immigrants intermingled with English and Scotch-Irish immigrants, the scheitholt, which was customarily played to a slower tempo in German cultural music, began to be musically integrated into the faster tempos of English and Scotch-Irish ballads and folk songs. As Appalachia absorbed an increasing flow of English and Scotch-Irish immigrants and the musical traditions they brought with them, the scheitholt steadily evolved into an instrument that reflected this folk music amalgamation, and the modern dulcimer was born.
In this second edition, Smith brings the dulcimer’s history into the twenty-first century with a new preface and updates to the original edition. Copiously illustrated with images of both antique scheitholts and contemporary dulcimers, The Story of the Dulcimer is a testament to the enduring musical heritage of Appalachia and solves one of the region’s musical mysteries.
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The 2nd edition is not just a reprint of the 1986 book but Ralph Lee Smith incorporates new information, photos, and history that has been uncovered in the last thirty years.
To be honest I have not made it far into the 2nd edition but already I have seen numerous updates. As I slowly read this book it’s great to see the new material and a pleasure to reread the original information again.