A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora
Kubla Khan – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
In 2000 we had a holiday in Brittany from the UK. Brittany is one those places that stays with you forever, it has a rich mythic tapestry, wild forests and a deep Celtic tradition.
I remember this holiday, not only because of we visit the legendary Forest of Broceliande (central to the King Arthur legends) but because on the way back to England we made two detours. One to Stonehenge and the other – a complete surprise for me – was to a man’s cottage in Glastonbury. The reason for the visit was the Richard bought me a hammered dulcimer, a beautiful ancient instrument that I had fell in love with years before, after hearing Maggie Sansone’s Mist and Stone.
For reasons that can’t be pinpointed, I’ve been an owner rather than a player all these years, despite the instrument meaning so much to me. Occasionally I take it out, play it and fall in love with it again – but then it falls into a soundless sleep again, away in it’s box.
Now that my studying is over, I’ve been recently promising myself to make a new long lasting commitment to finally becoming a player of this instrument.
Last Monday, sitting at work, I thought I’d finally gone mad. I heard dulcimer music coming from the fire exit of my office at work. I followed the sound out of the building, and sure enough there were two dulcimer players outside. I discovered that this relatively rare instrument (probably less than 100 players in Australia) is played by two of us on the same floor of the same university.
It’s the universe again telling me to motivate myself. One hour of a lunchtime talking to the only other player I’ve ever met gave me about five years worth of knowledge that I’d never had. Suddenly learning seems possible.
This is it, my committment starts now – I will make the transition from mucking around to learning and eventually being able to call myself a player without having to apologise.
To inspire me and keep me on the learning curve,I’m going to build a little mini-shrine to the hammered dulcimer on this site.