An Introduction to Folk Instruments: The Belarusian Dulcimer

| © Gianni Careddu / Wikimedia Commons
Anastasiia Ilina

The sounds of the dulcimer are magical and captivating. When played in on its own, it’s hard to imagine the dulcimer as a part of an orchestra. Yet the dulcimer is a versatile folk instrument that can not only lead orchestras, but captivate the listener on its own. Over the last decade the potential of the dulcimer has finally shone through, but musicians are not ready to stop there.

A competitive instrument

“Oh, the number of times I wanted to quit, at least three times I reached the limit and just wanted to stop playing. But then I realised where am I going to go,” were among the first words of Veranika Pradzed, a concert musician. But these weren’t the words of a person who lacked persistence, rather of a person who has experienced first-hand the competitiveness of playing a musical instrument. Especially in Belarus, where a lot of people play the dulcimer, or hammered dulcimer to be precise, getting to the top means years of hard work and, of course, great talent to back it all up.

Veranika with her instrument

Centuries in the making

No right or wrong

There are various ways to play the dulcimer, and they are only limited by the imagination of the composers. The strings are either played with two beaters or strummed just with the tips of the fingers. A special cloth is interlaced in the strings to muffle the sounds and needs to be quickly removed while playing. At a point during her performance, Veranika stopped playing the strings altogether and just drummed the rhythm on the sideboard of the instrument. The sound is unlike any other, as the strings continue humming long after they are strummed, creating a harmony of different melodies. Below is a melody performed by Veranika.

Seeking individuality

“It annoys me when people play music meant for other instruments on the dulcimer. We don’t need to prove that we are like players of any other instrument.” Veranika believes that the best way to optimize an instrument’s potential is by playing music intended for it, rather than imitating the music of others. She is happy that there have been more scores written for the dulcimer in the past seven years than there had been over the course of the previous 50. Yet the job isn’t nearly finished. Composers may still not realise the potential of this instrument, and the mission of current players is to inspire new music on their beloved dulcimer.

Ready for concert
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article