Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Wild Dulcimer

When I bought my first dulcimer in the early 1970s there were not many instruction books to be found. The dulcimer was going through a resurgence of popularity with the folk (Hippie?) crowd and dulcimers were found slung over shoulders and protruding from knapsacks and any gathering. Most folks played in a more or less traditional manner with quill and noter, but there were a few brave folks who pushed this pre-chromatic instrument out of the folkie realm into unexplored territory.

The most unique introduction to the unbound capabilities of the dulcimer was a book entitled In Search of the Wild Dulcimer by Robert Force and Albert d’Ossché (1971). This wonderful exploration of the dulcimer is still one of the best introductions to unlocking this simple instrument. I have passed my original copy of In Search of the Wild Dulcimer, now dog-eared and worn, to my son.

Beginning in the early 1970s, and playing together until Albert d’Ossché’s death in the late 1990s, Robert Force and Albert d’Ossché opened a whole new world of music for the dulcimer player. Force and d’Ossché played their instruments held against their body rather that flat on a lap or table. This allowed them to strum and fret similar to a guitar or mandolin. This method of playing was adopted by a few other dulcimer experimenters, including the late, great David Schnauffer.

I have chosen a small sampling of the magical dulcimer artistry of Force and d’Ossché to share with the riders on the Bus that may not be familiar with their work or with the versatility of the humble dulcimer.

Force & d’Ossché - Dixie's Land.mp3

Force & d’Ossché - Salvador do Bahia.mp3

Force & d’Ossché - Tabac Alegria (Happy Tobacco).mp3

Force & d’Ossché - Firenze (Melody for Richard and Mimi).mp3

Bonus video: Robert Force - On The Hard Drive Now.wmv (video)

Robert Force is still playing and teaching dulcimer. Visit robertforce.com for more info. about this pioneer and the instrument he has helped redefine.


Blogger Greg said...

Exquisite stuff, Ed! Many thanks. I've been checking out Robert Force's site, too.

March 14, 2007 9:34 AM  
Anonymous Lucy said...

Wow great post, Ed. Beautiful toe-tappin' tunes. I picked a good week to climb back on the bus.

March 14, 2007 11:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a new favorite version of Dixie. Good Post Ed.


March 14, 2007 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Rich said...

Became familiar with Force and d’Ossché through an old recording called/by The Pacific Rim Dulcimer Project. It's what got me re-interested in it. Maybe you have a bit of that coming up, since it's quite hard to find anywhere else.

Thanks for all your music - a great blog.

March 14, 2007 8:18 PM  
Blogger Ed said...

Thanks to all. I am glad to see so much interest in the dulcimer.

Rich - The PRDP is a grand introduction. My copy has a lot of surface noise after many years of play. If I can clean it up a bit, I'd be happy to post a cut or two.

March 15, 2007 6:26 AM  
Anonymous Rich said...

Yeah. My copy is almost unlistenable too. Especially Cornwall, which you've unbelievably directed us to the Robert Force site which has a lesson on the song (to think, I always fingerpicked it!) another thanks

March 15, 2007 7:54 PM  

<< Home