Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer--The Dark Side?

The debate rages between:

"traditionalists" who argue for a standard diatonic dulcimer ("I don't want no extra frets bygummit!");

"neo-traditionalists" who argue for a modified diatonic dulcimer with a 6+ fret ("well it is pretty standard these days");

"practical-neo-traditionalists" who are supporters of multi-modified diatonic dulcimer with 6+ AND 1+ frets; ("but I NEED that extra fret to play C and F chords!")

"people on the DARK side" who are supporters of entirely chromatic mountain dulcimers. ("hee, hee, hee...I can play EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE!")

Names are called, epithets are thrown, opinions are solidified and offered loquaciously...

OK, the final description may be exaggerated in the dulcimer world, BUT, we are human and do have our opinions, dearly treasured, and not-infrequently shared.

Some will say:  "If you want to play a chromatic instrument, get a guitar!"  Others answer, "I already play dulcimer and piano, I don't want to learn a guitar, too."

National Champion, Erin Rogers, is one of these latter people.  (Disclosure:  I like to tease her about "going over to the dark side" with her chromatic dulcimer.  She retorts:  "Well, I don't play a solid body electric, like you do!"---It's all good.)

We at are fortunate to have her share her experience of learning to play the Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer, comparing it to her extensive experience and facility with playing the diatonic mountain dulcimer.

Erin has begun a Chromatic Mountain Dulcimer series that we are now offering on our website.  She begins by describing her experience in learning, then reveals the benefits and limitations she's experience, and moves forward by playing both familiar and unfamiliar tunes in familiar and unfamiliar keys---all without retuning!




Evolution is a fickle thing.....every little modification makes it better or or die........we are watching this instrument evolve which includes chromaticism.......the strongest shall survive...... I believe it may have started chromaticly and some smarty pants said to a zither maker "Save the frets and put in only the ones I use" It's like candy....some don't like find what suits you....I find chromatics are a real fun with anything easily......more of the same dulcimer moves in any key............ There is no right or wrong only thinking makes it so........ Evolve, Ehukai
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Aane Pikkola

Holy Cats! I've been making and playing chromatic dulcimers for years! Never realized there was such a big brouhaha about it. Hey, I put pearl dots on the diatonic frets so I can keep track of everything. Works a treat. So. My question is the dulcimer world going to accept my next creation: conflating a six-string chromatic dulcimer with a Hungarian Citera? Will I be tarred and feathered? Will I have to continue to play my instruments quietly, in the dark of night...just in case the diatonic police should hear me? Watch out dulcimer ain't heard nothing yet. Greenflash.
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