Sunday, April 18, 2010

Cool temps and warm music

Barry awoke this morning to a very slight frost -- but unfortunately, it may have taken its toll on our blueberries.  By mid-morning when we checked outside, about half the blossoms were on the ground.  Apparently the strawberries and other crops made it fine, but we just hope the blueberries will make it.

This afternoon, we attended our very first Dulcimer Concert.  For those of you who don't know, the Dulcimer is the Commonwealth of Kentucky's official stringed instrument -- it apparently was invented here, as far as we can tell.  It has a very sweet, almost mournful sound, and even the name, from Latin and Greek, means sweet sound.  The lap dulcimer is played on the lap, obviously, and the hammered dulcimer (pictured below), much like the insides of a piano with the case removed and the keys taken out, is played on a stand.  The lap dulcimer generally has 4 strings (some have 6) and the hammered has many, many strings.  I'm not sure which is easier to play, but I suspect the hammered is more flexible, as the notes echo, so chords may be easier to obtain.  Either way, both are soothing and relaxing to listen to.

When we were living in Maine, I bought a Kentucky-made dulcimer, and this concert just encouraged me to come back home, tune the thing, and start playing it.  I WAS playing it like it was a guitar, and was having difficulty.  Now it seems quite easy, and I've already played Amazing Grace and Simple Things.  The type of music which can be played on the dulcimer is somewhat limited, largely to simple melodies, and many old hymns and folk tunes, but nonetheless, it is an instrument which is uniquely American, uniquely Southern, and uniquely beautiful in its sound.

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