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Sweet strings

click to enlarge RICK GORHAM

Dulcis being Latin for sweet, the word "dulcimer" means "sweet sounds."

"And it's true to it's name," says Bonnie Carol, a nationally recognized dulcimer musician and manufacturer from Nederland, Colo., just west of Boulder.

Carol visited Colorado Springs this month to conduct a dulcimer workshop and to play mountain and hammer dulcimers, instruments that hum and strum in an old-time way.

Though associated with the 1960s hippie heyday of the American and British folk music movements, the dulcimer has centuries-old roots.

The hourglass-shaped mountain dulcimer (pictured with Carol at left) was born in the early 1800s in America's Appalachia region.

"It's got a drone and a hum that I'm into," says Vickie Hejsek, president of the Serendipity Peak Dulcimer Club. The group formed seven years ago with only four members, and since has grown to more than 50 dulcimer enthusiasts, including Carol.

After a long day on her feet stocking shelves and helping customers at Wal-Mart, Hejsek says she unwinds with her dulcimer.

"I go on the back porch and play it for hours," she says. "It's just a peaceful feeling."

The music forms strong bonds as well.

"It's a joining," Hejsek says. "You play together and you form a rhythm. It's just like walking with someone."

And the stories of tragedy and sadness that run through the folk tradition speak to the heart, she says.

"People have been playing together for hundreds of years. It draws them together, and they'll tell stories with the songs they sing."

-- Dan Wilcock

Photo by Rick Gorham

  • Sweet strings

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