Dulcimer Music for Civil War Songs

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byron ed

2nd Lieutenant
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Mar 22, 2017
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Yes, "close-enough" is the very hallmark of mainstream reenacting, and mainstream reenacting is great precisely because it is so inclusive. Having campfire music is better than not having campfire music.

But a fair question might be: If you're selecting an instrument for Civil War reenacting why not start with an authentic thing, one that was actually and commonly in use by soldiers? If only on behalf the 'taters and the newbys. Authentic choices are gut-string banjos and guitars, concertinas, fiddles and jaw-harps (if nothing else). And for rhythm add a set of bones. Several of these are as easy as lap dulcimer at the beginner stage.

Now to set aside all niceties and passes: on campaign dulcimers (either type) were statistically insignificant, as were mandolins. That a few could have existed in the U.S. is the best you can authentically claim, until some quantity of period accounts come to light that indicate otherwise. And lately some good evidence has been recovered that harmonicas were not a thing either.*



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* Apparently known battlefield-dug harmonica reeds have turned out to be post-war patterns, that instrument becoming so popular after the war that they were carried -- and lost -- everywhere. They only began to be imported by music stores by the end of the war, so that is the best you can claim there, though I admit it's reenactor sacrilege to say that. The hobby from the start has been endemic with campfire and battle-pause harmonica playing!
 
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Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
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Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
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