Dulcimers denote a broad family of string instruments that exist in different forms in many musical traditions around the world, such as the salterio (Europe), santur (Persia), and yangqin (China).
The British dulcimer such as the one displayed here is trapezoid in shape. This style of dulcimer originated in the Renaissance period (c. 15th Century) and returned to prominence during the folk revival movements of the early twentieth century. The trapezoid shape reflects the different length of the strings, where shorter strings produce a higher-sounding pitch and longer strings produce a lower-sounding pitch.
Often, the strings are arranged in groups of three-to-six that may be bowed, hammered, or plucked.
The Music Department at King’s College London boasts a world-renowned, varied and pioneering team of researchers and composers exploring musical traditions from myriad places and periods. The instruments on display here illustrate this variety.
To find out more about the Cabinet and other objects on display, click here.