Resources: Instruments: Dulcimer (hammered)The dulcimer is a stringed musical instrument that is an ancestor of the modern piano, many courses of two to five strings per note that stretch across a shallow, wooden, trapezoid-shaped box. Players strike the strings with spoon-shaped 'hammers' to produce brilliant tones on the metal strings, and a pedal connected by a cord to the box acts as a damper to modify the tone of the instrument.
The dulcimer, probably a descendent of the Persian santir, originated in the middle east and was carried to Spain by the 1100s and China by the 1800s.
The dulcimer became a common folk instrument throughout Europe, acquiring various names in different countries (hackbrett in Switzerland, cimbal in the Czech Republic, cimbalom in Hungary, and santouri in Greece).
The hungarian version of the dulcimer was the first fully chromatic instrument that stood on legs and had a piano-like pedal to damp the tones.
Because the zither is also called a dulcimer in the United States, the name 'hammered dulcimer,' is used to differentiate the instrument from the Appalacian, mountain, or lap dulcimer, which are not hammered, but are plucked with the fingers or a plectrum.