Friday, June 18, 2010

Scantling dulcimer at Sugarlands, Smoky Mountain Park

On display at the Sugarlands Visitor Center, Great Smoky Mountains National Park outside Gatlinburg ... along with a cigar box fiddle and a gourd banjo ... a Tennessee Music box or "Scantling" dulcimer. The graphics quote John Rice Irwin saying there never were more than a thousand, "with many of them made between 1875 and 1910. It quotes this passage from Musical Instruments of the Southern Appalachian Mountains (1979), "... eighty to ninety percent of the older persons in Appalachia, with whom I have talked, had never even heard of the dulcimer until recent years. It is true that it was made and played by some of the old mountain people, who pronounced it 'dulcymore' or 'delcymore', but its existence was spotty to say the least" (64). A scantling, as I heard the word used in East Tennessee, is a small scrap of wood.

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