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The word dulcimer refers to two families of musical string instruments.
The word dulcimer originally referred to a trapezoidal zither similar to a psaltery whose many strings are struck by handheld "hammers". Variants of this instrument are found in many cultures, including:
- Hammered dulcimer (England, Scotland, United States)
- Hackbrett (southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland)
- Tsymbaly (Ukraine), tsimbl (Ashkenazi Jewish), țambal (Romania) and cimbalom (Hungary) may refer to either a relatively small folk instrument or a larger classical instrument. The santouri (Greece) (called "santur" in the Ottoman Empire) is almost identical to the Jewish and Romanian folk instruments.
- Santur (Iran and Iraq)
- Santoor (northern India and Pakistan) is constructed and tuned differently from the santur of Iran and Iraq
- Khim (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand)
- Yangqin (China), Đàn tam thập lục (Vietnam), yanggeum (Korea)
Appalachian dulcimer and derivatives
In the Appalachian region of the U.S. in the nineteenth century, hammered dulcimers were rare. There, the word dulcimer, which was familiar from the King James Version of the Bible, was used to refer to a three or four stringed fretted instrument, generally played on the lap by strumming.
- The original Appalachian dulcimer
- Various twentieth century derivatives, including
- "The Hammered Dulcimer". Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved February 28, 2022.