Danny Williams, a native of southern West Virginia, became interested at an early age in the unique history and traditions of the southern Appalachian mountains. This led him to the Appalachain dulcimer, a simple stringed instrument especially suited to hardworking rural people who might not have a lot of time to create music, or access to the tools and materials of fine woodworking. Danny latched onto the work of elder craftsman and musician Ray Epler, absorbed much of Epler’s musical style, and in 1977 apprenticed as his instrument-building student. In the four decades since, Danny has branched out into some other musical directions, but the dulcimer is still his passion and his mission. In his presentation to the Western Pennsylvania Woodworkers, Danny plans to send each craftsman home with enough information and confidence to build a dulcimer from scratch.
The emphasis will be on designing a high-quality, unique dulcimer, and building it without the specialized tools and jigs used by luthiers. Danny will provide a list of dimensions, demonstrate the sequence of creating a shaping jig, shaping parts, assembling the instrument, bending the sides to shape, and cutting frets. Danny will offer handouts with critical measurements, parts lists, drawings, and reminders of tricky operations. He will also offer for sale–at cost–some of the specialized hardware required, which is inexpensive, but not readily available in local stores. Danny will briefly mention some other musical instrument projects suitable for woodworkers with varying levels of ambition or skill.
Finally, Danny will demonstrate how easy it is to begin playing simple tunes on the dulcimer, and some Volunteers from among the WPW membership will entertain the crowd with a very slow rendition of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
NOTE: If you have already thought about building a dulcimer, please email Danny with your ideas or questions, so he can be sure to address them at the meeting.