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The Music Maker of Making Magic

Jake Moser, the hero of Making Magic, is not only a gifted musician, he is also a talented musical instrument maker. Some of the musical instruments that Jake crafts by hand are not widely known. In fact, I had to spend some time figuring out how to describe them to readers might not be familiar with instruments like these or might not have had the chance to hear true Appalachian folk music.
 
 
Hammered DulcimerJake’s favorite instrument is the hammered dulcimer. As he describes it: “The hammered dulcimer is like a guitar with no neck, a much bigger soundboard, a lot more strings and two sound holes. And what makes it more fun? You play by whacking on it with tiny hammers.” It is truly a gorgeous instrument, both in looks and in sound. And Jake, unlike many dulcimer makers, still hand carves his rosettes – those pretty pieces in the sound holes. It is an ancient instrument found under various names in many countries. In fact, the piano is a direct descendant of the hammered dulcimer.
 
 
Bowed PsalteryJake also makes the bowed psaltery, another little known instrument with a long history. This one has ancient origins beginning with the zither. But the psaltery was actually reinvented as a bowed instrument in the 1940s. If you are familiar with an autoharp, the bowed psaltery is similar except without the “automatic” dampers. And instead of being strummed, the bowed psaltery is played with a bow, or two bows in some cases. Like the mountain dulcimer, it can be held and played in many different ways.
 
 
 
Mountain Dulcimer

Another instrument which Jake makes is the mountain dulcimer or fretted dulcimer. It is also called the lap dulcimer, because it is traditionally laid in the musician’s lap and strummed, but it can be played many different ways. The history of this instrument is interesting and was only recently completely understood. It is also called the Appalachian dulcimer because that is where it originated – in the mountains, apparently as a result of the violin being more time-consuming and difficult to create. It is one of the easiest stringed instruments to learn how to play.
 
 
 
 
FluteBack when he was a teenager, Jake carved wooden flutes for two important people in his life. The wooden creature on top of the flute is called a “fetish”. (That word resulted in some interesting discussions with my editor.) The fetish is usually an animal of some significance in the particular tribal tradition, such as an eagle, bear, cougar (“painter”), or coyote.
 
 
Platter
 
 
And finally, Jake carves wooden pendants for necklaces much like these. (We gave one of these away in a recent newsletter contest!)

One of the necklaces that Jake made plays a rather important role in the book.
 
 
 
 
 
So now, when you read Making Magic, you will be able to visualize the musical instruments that play a role in the story!

Making Magic