The origins of this instrument are obscure; several versions of it exist in many different musical cultures, notably in the Arab world. It consists of an open trapezium-shaped sounding board strung with piano wire or similar material; the "hammers" are generally two lengths of wood or wire with a spoon-shaped head sometimes wrapped in wool. These are held in the hand and used to strike the appropriate string-course.

The hammer dulcimer can sometimes sound strange when played with other instruments, or, for that matter, by itself; since it has no damping mechanism, notes will be sustained beyond their useful duration, and interfere with the notes that are actually struck at any given time.

Dul"ci*mer (?), n. [It. dolcemele,r Sp. dulcemele, fr. L. dulcis sweet + melos song, melody, Gr. ; cf. OF. doulcemele. See Dulcet, and Melody.] Mus. (a)

An instrument, having stretched metallic wires which are beaten with two light hammers held in the hands of the performer.

(b)

An ancient musical instrument in use among the Jews. Dan. iii. 5. It is supposed to be the same with the psaltery.

 

© Webster 1913.

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