Hammered dulcimer recordings by Sheila Hunter

Recordings can be played with Real Player, which can be downloaded for free at http://www.real.com/ If your computer does not have Quicktime, then you will need to download that as well.

This music has not been professionally recorded! In fact, they have been recorded in my newly renovated bathroom, which is quite resonant. They are for my students who are learning songs and need to hear "my" version of the song for learning purposes. Below, you'll find notes on each of the songs.


Simple Gifts with guitar, hammered dulcimer and bowed psaltery. Instruments used: 16/15c Masterworks hammered dulcimer, Taylor acoustic guitar, and a bowed psaltery that I constructed in 2011, played with a handmade bow that I also constructed in 2011, which is strung with synthetic bow hair.

I"ll Fly Away on guitar, hammered dulcimer: I am playing a Deering 5-string banjo on this tune, along with the Taylor guitar and Masterworks hammered dulcimer. Notice that in the third time through, the banjo takes the lead (the melody) of the song and the hammered dulcimer plays "back up" while the banjo leads. Folks learning the hammered dulcimer need to also learn how to accompany and not take the solo for every single verse! A working knowledge of chords and how to follow along with other musicians is very important in learning to play the hammered dulcimer if you ever want to play with other musicians. Otherwise, you might not get invited back to jam sessions!

Simple Gifts on the floating soundboard dulcimer. This is a 12/11 dulcimer that I purchased from a seller on Craigslist. The dulcimer had been damaged by a large drum (like a djembe) which fell off of a shelf above the dulcimer. The treble bridge was crushed in two places and the soundboard was cracked in two places. I removed all of the strings, and repaired the cracks of the soundboard, using the advice of some piano rebuilding technicians who are colleagues of mine. I also constructed a new treble bridge out of cherry and lacquered it to match the original color as much as possible. I have completely restrung the piano with all new music wire. Currently (as of Oct. 2012) I have it tuned one full step below pitch, just to see how well it does. It has a very sweet, mellow tone, with a lot of sustain. I am enjoying playing in the keys of C and F on this dulcimer, and may keep it pitched low for awhile. Hammered dulcimers with floating soundboards are extremely heavy...this one weighs close to 30 pounds. It's not a traveling dulcimer!

Tallis' Canon (also call The Eighth Tune), c. 1561 on three hammered dulcimers. Canons, also called "rounds" can be found in many hymnals. This is one that I found in both the Episcopal and Quaker hymnals, but I am sure it is in other hymnals, as well. Various lyrics that are sung this canon have been used over the centuries, some from as early as the third century. I used the Masterworks 16/15c. for this recording. The first time through is in unison. Students: Experiment with playing along with this recording, and try playing it in different octaves.

Medley of Auld Lang Syne and What a Friend We Have in Jesus. This is a YouTube video that I made for my family members, who enjoy my arrangements of hymns. It's not a complicated arrangement and could be easily learned by ear, if you are so inclined. Auld Lang Syne and What a Friend We Have in Jesus (This link may or may not work, for reasons I don't understand! So, here is the actual link that you can copy and paste into your browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_tRKeayhwE . That should work, if Plan A doesn't! Hey...I'm a musician, not a computer geek.)

Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace on the floating soundboard dulcimer. This is a YouTube video of the restoration process of the floating soundboard dulcimer that I purchased from a Craigslist seller (see above). The recording is of the finished dulcimer, tuned up to the standard pitch of A440.