At 12:17 AM 1/25/2012, you wrote:
Assuming that Asian dulcimers are more lightly string, and are therefore
more responsive to strikes, I'm curious if any American dulcimer builders
have moved in that direction as well. Although I play using mostly fingers
to move strikes, I can't muscle a hammer into that kind of tremolo, and I
wonder if that is due to both the heavier style of hammers we use, and the
amount of energy needed to achieve sufficient volume.
Any thoughts on all this?
"Modern" dulcimer builders have been going in this direction for
years. Lighter gauge and fewer strings. It might make the sound
more "delicate" (and the instrument less heavy) but it also reduces
the available dynamic range significantly.
For the last 15 years, I have played a Webster. It has three strings
per course and they are heavier gauge than the normal two string
dulcimers I have met. It has a LOT more dynamic range than any two
string instrument I have ever played. Not only can it get very loud
without distortion, but because it is more efficient it also requires
that much less effort to play overall.
I have not done any actual testing, but subjectively I find that the
heavier . more strings there are, the more energy they can absorb and
re-radiate from each hammer hit without distortion. I find that two
string instruments, and especially lightly strung ones, tend to have
a maximum volume above which there just "isn't any more". This is
particularly noticeable in a jam.
Websters have a bad rep as "loud", but that is because of how they
are played, not because they have to be loud. I can play every bit
as delicately as any two string instrument, and it takes less effort.
So I guess my take is that a lighter strung dulcimer is not
necessarily easier to play.
Rochester Hills, MI
Hammered_dulcimers mailing list