Wilfried Ulrich


Location: Norden
Country: DE

My Latest Followers:

Rainer Bob Reinsel Lexie R Oakley Wayne Jiang Patricia Delich Geoff Black Robin Thompson Strumelia


youtube videos: 3
images: 8

Das Scheitholt

musician/member name:
Duration: 00:06:03
Eine mitteleuropische Entwicklung. Im Mittelalter wurde es als Monochord in Klstern gebraucht, um den Scholaren die richtigen Tne, handgreiflich, gehrm...
Ken Hulme
05/12/15 07:11:24AM @ken-hulme:

Danke, Wilfried for the linguistic and instrument name lesson. I know the word Holzscheit and the plattdeutsch change to Scheitholt. Very interesting to hear that at least modern luthiers in the Tyrol do not know that word for an instrument. It's also easy to see how our Revival researchers, when seeing the picture of the monochord which Praetorious called Scheitholt, said "Aha! See --a dulcimer ancestor!" when it was just a monochord not really even a zither. Now if we can just get folks to stop using the word Scheitholt....

05/11/15 10:20:28PM @razyn:

Now if I could find me one of them centimeters I could tune up my 19th century central Kentucky hummel, if it had a bridge and a nut and some strings, and the screws weren't rusted.

Jack Ferguson
05/11/15 10:03:39PM @jack-ferguson:

Wilfried, if I may address you by your first name, I agree with all the comments here...you are a "treasure". I love your instruments, and your traditional playing style. Along with my dulcimers, I also build Scheitholts, or maybe more appropriately, zithers, in order to follow my Mom's family (Henkel), from Leipzig. We have been fortunate here in Roanoke, Virginia to have the Blue Ridge Institute and Museum's Crooked Road " Virginia Dulcimer " exhibit available the past four years. Thank you for your knowledge and skills.



Wilfried Ulrich
04/01/15 06:52:24AM @wilfried-ulrich:

@ Ken Hulme

Ken - you wrote about the "vernacular tyrolian term of "Scheitholt"" earlier.

But it's not true - sorry ! The normal German Word for "firewood" is Holzscheit. (Holz-Scheit) The changing of the two parts of the word is "plattdeutsch" (Low-German) especially with the end "t" = Scheitholt. Wolfenbuettel / Brunswik where Praetorius lived belonged to the plattdeutsch countryside. Although in the village next to mine there could be different words for the same thing.

Some time ago I asked Zither builder and firewood maker in Tirol about the term Scheitholt. All wrote back : This term is never used in Tirol. I give one text in German:

Sehr geehrter Herr Ulrich!
Holzscheit: "Hoizscheidl", sprachlich weiches "d"
In Tirol wird so vieles verniedlicht, folglich meistens ein "l" am Ende.
Es gibt keine sprachliche Verwandtschaft zum Vorlufer der Zither. Der Ausdruck Scheitholz wurde in Tirol nie verwendet.
Mit freundlichen Gren
Peter Mrnseer (Zither builder)

There was an instrument from 1675 (South-Tirol, now Italy) which was in the collection of Heyer in Cologne. It was Heyer who gave the name "Scheitholt- oder Kratzzither" in his catalogue 1905. (My book p. 84)

This instrument is smaller than half of the Praetorius-Scheitholt (50cm / 107 cm).

The small alpine instruments have the name Raffele (means fast moving of the right hand), Zwecklzither (Zweckl is the wooden pick) Kratzzither (means scratching over the strings)

There are more than 40 instruments in the cellar of "Germanische Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg" Not a single one got the name "Scheitholt".

best regards


03/29/15 05:15:02PM @strumelia:

Thank you so much for all this info- your story is fascinating.

I wrote all those scales and tunings down! I may translate/try some out on my sweet little JohnHenry epinette.

Wilfried Ulrich
03/29/15 04:52:07PM @wilfried-ulrich:

Strumelia - thank you for the eulogy !

1976 I built my first Dulcimer along a TV-course by John Pearse. 1995 I was able to find the only hummel of my countryside Eastfriesia. (ca. 1800) Up to 2004 250 pupils built dulcimers and hummels in my school courses. At that year my big boss decided to delete lessons with handwork woodworking and all that. The pupils schould just work with their brain !! I thought: When my big boss is so stupid to delete my successful work I have to put something upon that because of my own self-confidence. In two years I worked for the masterproof as instrumentmaker. I finished that two years later in Markneukirchen.

Well - now I am the special man in Germany for the instrument hummel and the history of this wonderful toy! I give playing courses in Germany also in Netherland where was a tradition in 19th century. I built 10 student instruments because there are so many people asking me: Hummel ??? Never seen - never heard. So they can make a snuffle course.

My percussion in the video is a hollow wooden board for my feet. (50 X 70 x 10 cm)

The scale length of the "Scheitholt" is 60 cm with tuning Gdd. This is a standard in Belgium too where they have an unbroken tradition in playing the hummel. There is an other scale length around 56 cm with tuning Cgg.

For my singing I prefer a scale of 70 cm with tuning Fcc. The drones are an octave below. My hummels mostly have 8 strings. I like the deep sounding of the drones - especially in aeolian tuning.

The right hand : 2004 at a course in Asheville I was asked: Are you an innie or an outie ? I thought I have to be both ! In Germany we have some dulcimer players just beeing outies. I am not amused to look at their hectic moving of the right hand. It's so easy with an equal moving but accent somethimes the in and somethimes the out. It's just half of the "work".

2011 I organised the first hummel-exhibition with 50 historical instruments from museums. Several of them I had restored. Some had layn in the attic of the museum for 100 years - unrestored. Those folk instruments were not of interest for music scholars ! Lumpeninstrumentsas Praetorius told us 400 years ago ! For this I like to play tunes from Praetorius. In the video is "Ballet" from Terpsichore.

My book "The Story of the Hummel" ... look at my website www.ulrich-instrumente.de (translate with google - somethimes a little bit funny !)

best regards


03/29/15 03:05:55PM @strumelia:

The last part of the video shows beautifully the coordination between right and left hand- thank you for that- so helpful! Wish I could give this video 10 stars.

My first banjo teacher taught me that "The right hand is the meat and potatoes, and everything else is just gravy".

03/29/15 03:02:37PM @strumelia:

Wilfried, I remember stumbling upon your Youtube videos years ago and thinking "WHO is this marvelous and amazing fellow?!?"

I still feel the same way. You are a treasure.

May I ask-

what percussion beat you used here?- just your boot, or what...?

What is the scale length for this scheitholt?

what tuning did you use here?

Thank you!!

charlynne tuscany
03/29/15 10:18:05AM @charlynne-tuscany:

Good history and sound nice.

John Keane
03/29/15 05:40:27AM @john-keane:

It's a wonderful sounding instrument!

Patty from Virginia
03/28/15 07:37:21PM @patty-from-virginia:

Very beautiful sound and very beautiful instrumentSmile.gif

Helen Seiler
03/28/15 05:25:19PM @helen-seiler:

What a great video Wilfried. Excellent playing and some history too. Thank you for sharing.

Lexie R Oakley
03/28/15 11:41:12AM @lexie-r-oakley:

Thanks Wilfred, what a beautiful song on a beautiful instrument.

I was thinking that the Scheitholt had more drone strings?

I enjoy reading the history of these instruments, it is very interesting. Thank you for sharing it with usSmile.gif

Ken Hulme
03/28/15 08:17:22AM @ken-hulme:

From what I have been able to discover, Scheitholt or "firewood" in the local vernacular, is/was a very localized Tyrolean nickname for the ordinary fretted zither. Less common a name than Americans calling a dulcimer a "Virginia Hog Fiddle" or "Indian Walking Stick"

Wilfried Ulrich
03/28/15 02:23:26AM @wilfried-ulrich:

The "Scheitholt" is a middle european invention. The most famous description is made by Praetorius in 1619. There were earlier instruments. The first mention of a hummel is from 1508. I was able to find a woodcut in a Bavarian Library from 1516 showing 3 "monochords" - but looking like "Scheitholt" . The instruments are more beautiful than the Scheitholt by Praetorius. The speech that theese instruments came from west-asia is written by Curt Sachs (1919) This is nothing but nonsense. Reading his aricle about the "Hummel" you will put your hand to your head ! (I think Americans have a special words for that? ) The monochords were used in monasteries to teach monks singing the right tones- not only by doing but also by eyes, by hand and by math. Outside the monasteries the monochrd was used as a rhythm instrument with a stick. The earliest immage I could find is from 1398. Well - time by time more strings came to the instruments and changable wooden frets were fixed ore reset by staple frets.

You can look at my middle finger as a "noter". Normally I play with 3 fingers but my index finger was hit by my cicle saw! It begins to get healed again!