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See, Hear and Sing Uncommon Instruments
 
Cimbalom
The cimbalom, an early ancestor to the piano

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Thomas Mann performing "Nancy's Fancy" in July, 1937

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Percussion Instruments
The hammered dulcimer, in its simplest form, is an instrument with 13 strings, played by beating the strings with a small hammer. The name "dulcimer" comes from Latin and means "sweet sound." The hammered dulcimer developed from the cimbalom, an instrument from Hungary with 48 strings that is played with small hammers. The piano of today has evolved from both the cimbalom and the hammered dulcimer. Have you ever seen the inside of a piano? When someone presses a piano key, a lever raises a hammer that then strikes the string producing a musical note. How do you suppose this came about?
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CREDIT: "Cimbalom, photograph." California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties, Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell, Library of Congress.
AUDIO CREDIT: Mann, Thomas, performer; Cowell, Sidney Robertson, recorded. "Nancy's Fancy." July 1937. California Gold: Northern California Folk Music from the Thirties. Collected by Sidney Robertson Cowell, Library of Congress.