Speaker Secretary Ian Rutter reports:-
We welcomed as our speaker/entertainer this month, Julie Beaven, who gave us a delightful presentation about The Hammer Dulcimer. This instrument, the forerunner to the piano, originated in Persia, way back in the 11th Century. Although Julie’s dulcimer appeared to have only about 15 strings, the base and treble bridges effectively tripled that number to 46. (No, not 45. That’s what Julie says and she is a Maths teacher in addition to her musical talents!).
Apart from her Hammer Dulcimer, Julie also owns a Mountain Dulcimer, which we had hoped she would bring, but unfortunately it was in a musical instrument repair shop undergoing some restoration. However, for good measure, Julie also owns a variety of other instruments, over thirty in all.
She is a very accomplished, professional musician – a member of the (National) Nonsuch Dulcimer Club, a mentor to the National Youth Harp Orchestra of Great Britain and, more locally, timpanist and trombonist with the Cobham Brass Band.
After telling us about her Hammer Dulcimer, its history and how it is constructed from five different woods, Julie then gave a short concert, playing several pieces, some of which she had composed herself. As befits its name, the instrument is played with wooden or metallic ‘hammers’, which resemble flattened spoons. The resulting sound of the strings being ‘hammered’ varies according to the shape of the hammer and its covering, (leather, felt, velvet etc.).
In his vote of thanks, Club member, Steve Palmer, commented that he had not heard of a dulcimer since his school days, when in English Literature lessons, he had studied the poem,’Kubla Khan’ by William Taylor Coleridge, containing the lines ‘A damsel with a dulcimer in a vision once I saw’. He now knew what a dulcimer was! Steve voiced the great appreciation of the gathering for Julie’s presentation and hoped that it would not be too long before she visited us again to entertain us with her Clarsach (or Celtic) Harp.