Home Manuscript samples
News Photographs
Music downloads Links and contact
Publicity pack Buy CDs online

The following points are very brief edited extracts from an extremely extensive research proposal document which has been conceived and formulated over the last five years. The title and consequences of this research will be divulged in the future. It relates to Innovation in Design, Composition and Performance. It will be accompanied by a symbiotic thesis and argument.

Research, Ideas and Vision.

.....The change in the design of musical instruments throughout history has often led to a high degree of standardisaton. The Hammered Dulcimer, unlike the guitar, piano, clarinet or violin, is not standardised. This project is not an attempt to standardise the Hammered Dulcimer. The realization of its aims will demonstrate this. Each country has its own indigenous dulcimer which reflects the culture of origin. (Italian Salterio, Iranian Santur, Bavarian Hackbrett, Hungarian Cimbalom, Chinese Yang Chin, etc.) However, all of these dulcimers have technical limitations which as the thesis will argue, inhibit to varying degrees the exploration of composition and performance.

In Western Europe the Dulcimer was, to some extent, superseded by the invention of the piano. As David Kettlewell states, 'Though evidently less popular in cultivated Western society, perhaps because of the increasing availability of the piano, the Dulcimer in the nineteenth century retained its appeal among country folk and many working townspeople'. (Kettlewell, 'Dulcimer'; page 695. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 1980. Volume 5.)

The Dulcimer has survived in 'folk' music in various cultures. However, in the Middle East (Iran and Iraq in particular) and to some extent in China and India it has developed a status as a recital instrument - this is probably, in part, due to the relative lack of penetration of the Western Piano.

The Hungarian Cimbalom has achieved a small presence in some Western 'classical' composition. It is atypical of the majority of indigenous dulcimers in that its construction and character of sound is more closely related to the piano. This instrument can be studied at Hungarian conservatoires. Some other East European countries offer study on their respective indigenous dulcimers (for example, at the Minsk Conervatoire in Belarus, under Professor Eugene Gladkov). In the West, it appears that only the Munich Conservatoire in Germany offers study and this is on the Bavarian Hackbrett.

The importance of the design of the hammers (the mallets) in relation to indigenous dulcimers is of significance as well. It is clear that indigenous hammers are used on indigenous dulcimers and in terms of the execution of percussion technique ( that is, the comprehensive use of all rudiments) some designs are more suitable than others, but none is ideal.

An Analysis of recordings and performances by virtuosi from all cultures shows that numerous percussion rudiments are not used and are left unexplored. No individual has used the complete spectrum of percussion rudiments until now. This is in part related to the hammer (mallet) design, as well as the instrument. However, my extensive studies and working experience have led me to conclude that this is also related to composition as well as teaching and performance techniques.

Furthermore, it is perhaps because only two styles of music predominate on indigenous dulcimers (i.e. 'folk' and 'classical') that rudiments and therefore rhythm are not explored to a fuller extent. The full - blooded exploration of a wide range of musical styles and composition will necessitate the complete use of rudiments and would further liberate rhythm and rhythms. Moreover, this would require development and change in teaching and performance techniques.

So, it is clear that there is a paradox at the heart of the issues discussed above. Research has led me to conclude that because the highly developed distinctiveness of indigenous 'folk' and 'classical' music for indigenous dulcimers from all cultures is entwined with, and encapsulates, ideas and images of national and cultural identities, and that although tradition and conservation have helped keep the instrument 'alive', there is a conservatism and stasis inherent in these concepts of national and cultural identity which tend to inhibit and preclude the exploration of a wide range of styles of music. Therefore, The Hammered Dulcimer, from no matter which culture, tends to be thought of as a 'traditional' instrument, and its liberation and development from an International perspective has been heldback until very recently.

The cultural historian Anthony D Smith states, "It is the intellectuals - poets, musicians, painters, sculptors, novelists, historians and archaeologists, playwrights, philologists, anthropologists and folklorists - who have proposed and elaborated the concepts and language of the nation, and nationalism, and have through their musings and research, given voice to wider aspirations that they have conveyed in appropriate images, myths and symbols". ( Smith, 1991, page 93. ) It will be argued that it is also possible to convey Internationalism in "appropriate images myths and symbols". This project and my composition and performance encapsulate this aspiration......