Sarah Barnes

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Han, Guohuang

Degree Name

M. Mus. (Master of Music)

Legacy Department

School of Music




The purpose of this thesis is to describe the design of the hammered dulcimer, explain the playing techniques and discuss its history and current function in various cultures throughout the world. The first topic of the thesis is an introduction to this instrument. This introductory chapter defines the dulcimer using organology terms and cites various names used for this instrument in different regions throughout Asia and Europe. The last portion of this chapter compares and contrasts the hammered dulcimer and an American folk instrument called the Appalachian dulcimer. The second chapter of this thesis describes the design and playing technique of the hammered dulcimer. The first section explains details of various structural elements such as strings and bridges. This is followed by an examination of the tuning systems, mallets used to play the instrument, and common embellishments that performers use to create interesting variations of dance tunes. The last section addressed is the history of the hammered dulcimer. The migration of this instrument is traced from its homeland in Persia to Europe and Asia and eventually to the United States, The thesis is concluded with a discussion of the current function of this instrument in society in both the East and West.


[vii], 47 pages




Northern Illinois University

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