The dulcimer, a stringed musical instrument that originated in the Appalachian region of the United States, has a long and rich history. Traditionally made from wood, with a triangular body and three or four strings, the dulcimer has been used for centuries to play folk music, hymns, and ballads. Today, a new generation of contemporary dulcimer makers is emerging, dedicated to preserving and expanding the instrument’s legacy.
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Contemporary Dulcimer Makers: Keeping the Tradition Alive
Contemporary dulcimer makers are passionate about the instrument’s history and traditions, but they also bring their own unique styles and innovations to the craft. Some use non-traditional materials like carbon fiber, while others experiment with different shapes and designs. What unites them is a commitment to quality craftsmanship and a deep respect for the dulcimer’s roots.
One such maker is Lynn McSpadden, founder of the McSpadden Dulcimers company in Arkansas. McSpadden began making dulcimers in the 1960s, and her instruments have since become known for their exceptional sound and beauty. McSpadden Dulcimers are made from solid wood and hand-crafted with meticulous attention to detail.
Another contemporary dulcimer maker is Kevin Messenger, based in Vermont. Messenger’s dulcimers are distinctive for their innovative design, which combines traditional materials like wood with modern techniques like laser cutting. His instruments have won numerous awards and are sought after by musicians around the world.
In addition to individual makers, there are also organizations dedicated to promoting the dulcimer and its makers. The Dulcimer Builders’ Workshop, for example, is an annual gathering of dulcimer makers and enthusiasts that provides workshops and other resources for those interested in the craft.
Contemporary dulcimer makers face many challenges, including competition from mass-produced instruments and a dwindling pool of skilled craftsmen. However, they remain dedicated to their art, and their instruments are sought after by musicians and collectors alike. Whether you’re a seasoned player or just discovering the dulcimer for the first time, exploring the work of contemporary makers is a rewarding experience.
In conclusion, contemporary dulcimer makers are an important part of the instrument’s legacy, keeping the tradition alive while also pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. By supporting these makers and their work, we can ensure that the dulcimer continues to be a vibrant and thriving part of our musical heritage.