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A dolceola is a musical instrument resembling a miniature piano, but which is in fact a zither with a keyboard. It is used in traditional holy blues and has an unusual, angelic, music-box sound. Dolceolas were made by the Toledo Symphony Company from 1903 to 1907.
Paul Mason Howard accompanied Lead Belly on dolceola on some of his 1944 Capitol Records sides. A listen to those recordings, collected under the title Grasshoppers In My Pillow, reveals the characteristic clatter of the dolceola's three-level keyboard action.
The gospel and gospel blues musician Washington Phillips (1880–1954) has been said to have played a dolceola on his recordings, but his instrument was in fact called a "dulceola", and was a home-made fingered fretless zither.
- Sullivan, Steve (October 4, 2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Volume 2. Scarecrow Press. p. 171. ISBN 978-0810882966. Retrieved August 20, 2015.
- The Dolceola: a piano? A zither? Or what?. Miner Music
- A New Musical Instrument. Dunn's Review, Vol. 11, 1908
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