The Hammer Dulcimer-Celeste, or DulCeleste, is a new Rizzetta musical invention that combines the celestial sound of an orchestra bell set, or glockenspiel, with the note layout and playability of a hammer dulcimer. And in some ways it improves on both instruments. Unlike dulcimer strings, the metal bars never need tuning and do not break. The sound volume is enhanced with a light weight resonator-frame unlike conventional bell sets which require bulky resonator tubes.
Anyone who can play a dulcimer can play the DulCeleste. The note arrangements are the same. The note bars are a special aluminum alloy which provides beautiful tone and light weight portability. Each note bar is accurately hand-tuned. The sound has been described as “angelic” and “celestial.”
As with dulcimers, a variety of hammers and mallets can be used. You can even use your dulcimer hammers. Mallets that are a bit heavier than average dulcimer hammers work best. Soft padded hammers give a mellow, vibraphone like tone, while hard hammers provide a sharper bell like sound. Musical range is similar to dulcimer models but in higher octaves.
The video uses a variety of hammers and mallets from soft pads to medium hard. More info on the recording is below. I've also used DulCeleste in some new recordings, Simple Gifts and Healing Springs, which are on the Music Videos Page: 2. Music Videos – Music In The Time Of Coronavirus.
Nicholas Blanton, blantoninstruments.com, can make DulCelestes on custom order, and I will occasionally have one to sell.
L12-12 DulCeleste. L12-12 note layout. Range 2-1/2 octaves, D5 - A7. The Low 12-12 is the model I play most and recommend. It includes the nice sounding low range while eliminating some of the seldom used higher notes in order to provide light weight convenience and portability. Size is 2” x 18” x 24”; weight is 7 to 8 lb.
13-12 DulCeleste. 13-12 note layout. Range 2-1/2 octaves, G5 - C8. The 13-12 is the least costly to make. Note layout is similar to many entry level dulcimers, except that this DulCeleste includes the chromatic high notes found on more sophisticated dulcimers like the Dusty Strings Chromatic Series, Blanton, and Rizzetta models. Size is 2” x 18” x 22”; weight is 6 to 7.5 lb.
6-15 DulCeleste. 16-15 note layout. Range nearly 3 octaves, D5 - C8. The 16-15 duplicates the most popular dulcimer layout and includes the chromatic high notes. Note that some dulcimer stands are not stable with this larger model. Size is 2” x 22” x 24”; weight is 9 to 10 lb.
On the DulCeleste demo video several DulCelestes are played, each solo one at a time. The different sizes really sound about the same. The tone differences are due to the different hammers used and the range and number of notes available. The tunes and instruments in the video, in order, are: Away In a Manger (traditional Christmas) 13-12 Moonlight In The Balsam Fir (Rizzetta) 16-15 Evan’s Hornpipe (traditional) 16-15 Charlie’s Shuffle (Rizzetta) 16-15 Intro to In The Cathedral Forest (Rizzetta) L12-11
Diatonic Bell Set. Diatonic note layout. Range 2 octaves diatonic. Although nominally in the key of C#, this is simple to play and will play any tune in a do, re, mi,… scale. “Do” is marked red and “fa” is marked blue. It is specially tuned to just intonation for a pure and sweet sounding scale. Ideal for music therapy and learning basic melodies. With mallets and case. $200.