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The Dulcimer can be found in a few different types and styles of instrument. The Appalachian Dulcimer has frets, is played by picking the strings and sometimes referred to as the lap dulcimer or mountain dulcimer. Hammered Dulcimers use small mallets to strike the strings, and may span multiple octaves. Known for a unique harpsichord sounding tone, different types of dulcimers have been found in many different countries, each with a unique name. Within the United States, the dulcimer is most commonly associated with folk music, and specific regions of the country such as the Appalachian region of the Eastern United States. Although today, the dulcimer is also found in other types of ethnic music such as celtic music.
Most dulcimers follow a tuning pattern of the circle of 5th, and combined with the long amount of sustain the strings produce, the resulting tone will have a very calming and mono-chromatic sound. The hammered dulcimer especially can be unique portable allowing for a single musician to perform in spaces not possible for multiple performers. During holiday times of the year, shopping malls and street corners might be home to a dulcimer player, using the unique tone and physical nature of performing on the instrument to draw in listeners to some holiday music. No doubt taking every bit as much skill to play as many other instruments, the dulcimer is an essential part of the folk and traditional music fabric of the United States and many other countries.