Speaking of music and renaissance faires …

March 2, 2008 at 1:21 pm | Posted in festivals, local, music | 5 Comments

Yesterday I went to the Potsdam museum to see a performance by Stan Ransom, a folk musician who lives near Plattsburgh, New York. The focus of the performance was the hammered dulcimer, a percussive, melodic instrument with a long and rich history. It is often played at renaissance festivals, and it was at the NY Renaissance Festival that I first remember hearing, and falling in love with, the sound of the hammered dulcimer.

Over the years, I have entertained the idea that I might one day learn to play the hammered dulcimer. I came dangerously close at times, but I never picked up a hammer before yesterday. It felt really good. Stan told me of a festival in the Adirondacks, the Northeast Dulcimer Symposium, and it just sounds wonderful. I probably won’t try to pick it up until next year, but when I’m ready to take the leap, it seems very doable. Besides, a hammered dulcimer would cost about $500, and I have to save up. I know they can cost much more than that, but I won’t spend more than that for my first one. As long as it sounds good and has a few octaves, I’d be happy. Also, I just started TKD, and I don’t want too many new projects at once.

But it’s still very exciting!



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  1. I’ve always thought the hammered dulcimer was pretty cool too. Performers of the instrument seem to become entranced while playing it. Here’s a YouTube clip you’ve probably already seen of a young fellow rocking out on an HD:

    Dude with Fast Hands on Dulcimer

  2. Wow. That’s one heck of a performance. I had to fight back the urge to stand and applaud the YouTube video!

    Another dulcimer player you may find worth listening to is Jem Moore. Derek, Jenny and I heard him at AZRF several years ago. His “Lost Tower” album is one of my favorites.

  3. I came across this post by searching for Hammer Dulcimer. A few months ago I bought a HD on ebay for $300. Pretty cheap for a 16/15. Anyway, learning it has been easier than I thought it would be. And it’s been a blast! Very forgiving instrument 🙂

    Rich Mullins was another well known HD player. He played a few other instruments as well. Definitely check him out, the best music I’ve ever heard! His music is the reason I picked up a HD.

    I hope you persue the instrument!

  4. Here’s a post I put up recently. Again this is after only a few months of learning (and I don’t really play any other instruments)…


  5. Hi Cris. Thanks for reading, posting, and linking! It’s good that you were able to get such a good deal on ebay. I haven’t picked one up yet, but it’s still on my list.

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