What is that instrument called?

It's a Hammered Dulcimer

Joe Matzzie on Hammered Dulcimer at the Southern Connecticut Renaissance Festival

Over the years that I’ve played music live, an often recurring questions that we hear from audience members has been “What do you call that instrument”. Usually this happens when playing music at Renaissance festivals and other such period events, where uncommon instruments are a common occurrence. From the hammered dulcimer to the hurdy gurdy to the harp to the shawms and lots of exotic percussion, these festivals draw together unconventional sounds and musicians from a wide variety of backgrounds and musical influences. English Country Dances, Spanish Cantigas, Macedonian Gypsy Dances, Celtic Aires, Arabic Music from Andolusia, it all gets woven together

I’ve been playing guitar, hammered dulcimer and mandolin at these types of events for many years. It’s amazing how the joyous blend of Classical, folk and ethnic music traditions can touch the hearts of people who hear it. The experience of playing music at Renaissance Fairs changed my life and also codified the sounds and rhythms that I seek out in music.

When I was in the early stage of planning the album Christmas at the Renaissance Fair, I knew that I wanted to pay tribute to the wonderful tradition of holiday music, and I also wanted capture the joyous spirit of Renaissance-festival-type music, and of the amazing musicians that I’ve played with over the years. The wild and dreamy dusty feeling of a summer afternoon at the fair. The conglomeration of courtly renaissance with mysterious medieval, savage pagan, and enchanting Celtic music.

The album is full of classic Christmas melodies that weren’t necessarily native to a certain century, but could really shine when presented in a Renaissance fair type way.

If you’d like to hear the result, click hear to listen to Moat Jumper’s debut album, Christmas at the Renaissance Fair.

Thank you for being a listener and for making it all worthwhile.

Stefan Mark Dollak on Hurdy Gurdy

Stefan Mark Dollak on Hurdy Gurdy

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