Instruments | Cimbalom | Modern Era | Classical
The dulcimer is a type of box zither whose name derives from dulce melos or ‘sweet sound’. Usually with four sides, none of them running parallel to each other (though as this is an instrument to be found under various names in practically every country on earth, it is difficult to be definite), it has several strings but no keyboard. The strings run between two sets of pins and through bridges, and are played by being struck by a pair of hammers. A lap-top or table-top instrument, the dulcimer was well known in the Middle Ages and continued to be played through the Baroque period. By the nineteenth century, it had come to be regarded largely as a folk or dance-music instrument.
The cimbalom, one of the many varieties of dulcimer, was rediscovered by composers from southeastern Europe as a result of the late nineteenth-century interest in folk culture. Consequently, it plays a notable role in the music of Kodály and Bartók in particular.
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