HARPERS FERRY, W.VA.
Carl Gotzmer hunched low over the smoothly polished surface of the wooden dulcimer on display Friday beneath the tent at the spring Mountain Heritage Arts & Crafts Festival, and with an ornately carved hammer in each hand, rapidly pounded out an old and familiar tune.
A maker of both hammered dulcimers and the slim, three- or six-string lap dulcimer, Gotzmer said he began his interest in the instrument in college, after a classmate wrote his thesis on its evolution. The dulcimer was developed in the 1700s by Appalachian Scotch-Irish immigrants, who sought to mimic the sounds of the bagpipe, Gotzmer said.
"People don't realize that it originated in the United States," Gotzmer said.
Gotzmer, whose wife, Kathleen, performs in The Mill Run Dulcimer Band, one of the longest-running dulcimer bands in the country, also crafts European variations of the dulcimer, as well as an instrument he developed himself, the cellomer, a cross between dulcimer and cello.