For over thirty years I have traveled, taught and performed with the Appalachian Mountain Dulcimer throughout most of the United States and parts of Europe. In this page you will find many of the particulars. If you read between the lines you will also find having been able to do so has brought a great joy to my life and that I count myself fortunate for being able share both the music and the instrument with many others.
Booking fees are negotiable and depend upon the venue. For more information you can call me at 360-385-4003 or write to me at 1228 Blaine Street, Port Townsend, WA. 98368
What the Press has had to say over these many years:
- "A player par excellence, (he) combines warmth, wit and musical ability into an experience that leaves the audience uplifted and thoroughly entertained."
The Island Sounder, Vashon, WA
- "Robert Force helped set the standards for modern dulcimers."
San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle
- "His records, books, festivals and appearances have literally influenced thousands of dulcimer players."
Victory Music Review, Seattle, WA
- "He plays the dulcimer like nobody else on earth (except more than a few imitators) holding the thing standing up and playing like a maniac."
Whatcom Music, Bellingham, WA
- "With the instrument (played) standing up, it gives a different angle of approach to the flat-pick which allows for more variety."
Musician News Magazine
- "The long-overdue first album, Crossover, is a dazzling dulcimer showcase."
Music Monthly, Eugene, OR
- "One of the first, if not the first, recordings adequately treating the Mountain Dulcimer as a complex musical instrument."
- "Taking the dull out of dulcimers."
Santa Cruz Daily Sentinel
- "Force and d’Ossché travel brazenly across the stylistic barriers."
Boulder Daily Camera
- "The effect of Force and d’Ossché on the evolution of the dulcimer commenced the moment they took up the instrument."
Guild of American Luthiers
- "Robert Force is a technically proficient, disciplined, knowledgeable musician who is sensitive to nuances in a variety of styles, yet who has the creative capability to develop a highly personal style."
Dr. Susan Porter, Associate Professor, Music History, The Ohio State University, Lima
Master of Education: Curriculum and Instruction, City University, Bellevue, WA., 1994. Presidential Honors
Bachelor of Science: General Studies, 1992. Eastern Oregon State College, LaGrande, OR. Summa Cum Laude
In Search of the Wild Dulcimer R. Force, A. d’Ossché; Random House/Vintage, N.Y., 1974
The Wild Dulcimer Songbook R. Force, A. d’Ossché; Columbia Pictures Press, L.A., CA, 1982
Pacific Rim Dulcimer Songbook Force, d’Oscché, Rugg, Carol, Hellman, Dworsk;, Capri-Taurus, Felton, CA., 1977
The Dulcimer Chord Book N. Hellman; Hal Leonard Publications., L.A., C, 1980.
- Pacific Rim Dulcimer Project Flying Fish Records, Chicago
- Crossover Kicking Mule Records, CA.
- The Art of Dulcimer Kicking Mule Records, CA.
- When the Moon Fell on California Kicking Mule Records, CA.
- Double Dulcimer Magic Gourd Records, CA.
- Port Townsend Dreams BAF Records, WA
Hand Made Music CD Releases:
- Tiger Dreams
- Like Magic (cdr)
- Seatle Folklore (cdr)
- Mama Sunday’s (cdr)
- The Song Machine (cdr)
- Hands Across the Sea (cdr)
Homepage for Robert Force and Hand Made Music http://robertforce.com
Interactive Dulcimer Tutorial site http://robertforce.com/wilddulcimer/
Produced 20 additional album-length recordings in the fields of American Folk, Irish, Classical, and Jazz in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Denver and Boston– 1977-present
Awards and Recognitions:
Folk Album of the Year: "Pacific Rim Dulcimer Project" Radio Berlin, 1979
Grammy nomination: producer of best folk album, "Borderlands", Kicking Mule Records, Caswell/Carnahan, 1983
Guiness Book of World Records: co-builder of largest guitar ever built. Guild of American Luthiers, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA., 1980
NAIRD nomination (National Association of Independent Record Distributors): producer of best gospel song, "Little Scholar" Kicking Mule Records, "Dulcimer Duets" Hellman, 1981
NAIRD nomination– producer for album in category: best cover art, "Celtic Collection for Dulcimer", Kicking Mule Records, Rugg, 1981 (top ten)
NAIRD nomination– producer for album in category: best cover art, Kicking Mule Records "Dulcimer Duets", Hellman, 1981
Tennessee State Dulcimer Champion: Cosby, Tenn. 1971
- California State, Northridge, 1985, 1987, 1988
- Ohio State University, Columbus, 1971
- Ohio State University, Lima, 1986, 1988, 1990
- Western Washington University, Bellingham, 1986
- University of Washington, Seattle, 1977
Performances: Colleges and Universities (partial list)
- American University, Washington D.C.
- Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA.
- California State University Northridge
- Colorado State University, Ft. Collins
- Dana College, Blair, Nebraska
- Denison University, Granville, Ohio
- Georgetown University, WA. D.C.
- McMurray College, Jacksonville, Ill.
- Moorehead State University, Minn.
- State University of N.Y., Binghamton
- University of Idaho, Moscow
- University of Missouri, Columbia
- University of Ohio, Columbus
- University of Ohio, Lima
- University of Oregon, Eugene
- University of Washington, Seattle
- Western Washington University, Bellingham
Performances: Festivals, Societies, & Institutions (partial list)
- Bumbershoot Arts Festival, Seattle, Washington
- Canadian/Icelandic Association., Winnipeg, Ontario
- Chrysler Museum, Norfolk, Virginia
- Denver Folklore Society, Colorado
- Eugene Renaissance Fair, Oregon
- Folk Festival of the Smokies, Cosby,Tennessee
- Kentucky Arts & Crafts Festival, Berea
- Los Angeles Symphony Benefit, L.A, California
- Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary, PA.
- International Multi-Arts Festival, Bellingham, WA.
- North Carolina Fiddler’s Convention, Union Grove
- Northwest Folklife Festival, Seattle, WA.
- Sacramento Bluegrass Festival, CA.
- Scandinavia Folk Fest, Gig Harbor, WA.
- Summer Solstice Folk Festival, Los Angeles, CA.
- Tuscon Folklore Society, Arizona
- USO Club, Keflavik, Iceland.
Radio and Television:
Concomitant with preceding events have been numerous media appearances throughout the United States and Europe, especially on local and college radio. Among the national and regional appearances have been:
- Armed Forces Television, Keflavik, Iceland
- Bavarian National Radio, Munich, Germany
- Icelandic National Radio, Rekjavik
- Icelandic National Television, Rekjavik
- Radio Free Europe, Munich, Germany
- S.E. Regional Television (CBS)
- S.W. Regional Television (CBS)
Related Musical Activities:
American/Icelandic Musician Program:Developer and coordinator for a 14-city tour of Iceland and 2 tours of the U.S., 1972-1973g
CBS Special: "The Caine Mutiny Trial" marching band sequence coordinator. Fall, 1987
Dulcimer designer and builder creating modern dulcimers for contemporary concert musicians. 1971-present, Designer of signature model dulcimer nationally marketed by Blue Lion Instruments of San Luis Obispo, CA.
Founder of "Kindred Gathering Music Festival" — oldest dulcimer gathering in the United States. 1975 to present
Founder of "Mama Sunday’s"– oldest continuously operated college folk music venue in the nation. WWU. Bellingham, Washington, founded 1968
Guild of American Luthiers: Charter member of the only national guild of musical instrument designers. Starting with less than a dozen members, its journal now networks information for thousands. Since 1974
Music director, "Clarence Schmidt Video Documentary" personal interview and the environmental sculpture of New York proto-dadist. Woodstock, N.Y., 1974
Olympic Games program participant: Organized children’s interactive musical environment at the Haus der Kunst,Munich, Germany, 1972
Don’t Quit Your Day Job!
For almost twenty years I was able to work almost exclusive in the fields of musical performance and productiion. Like most musicians, I also turned my hand at odd jobs and lifetstyles to make ends meet. At one time or another I have been an Archeology Site Worker (Iceland), Commercial Fisherman, Retail Store Interior Designer, Farmer (and Homesteader), Heavy Equipment Operator, Musical Instrumeni Builder, Newspaper Reporter, Print Shop Manager, Public Relations Coordinator, Retail Sales Clerk, Shipbuilder / Ship’s Carpenter, Small Business Owner, Surveyor, Public and Private School Teacher.
In the last category, a position I pursued one way or another for twelve years, I was honored by being selected for inclusion in Who’s Who of American Teachers, 1998 edition. One way or another, though, my interests have always returned to education: first music, ethno-musicology and history, later, interactive technologies, and finally these days, directing programs which give anyone access to education.
So I still have been out working in the field, but tilling different, fertile ground. Currently I am the director of a Learning Center branch of Washington State University, working predominately with returning, degree-seeking students in distance education programs:
Director, North Olympic Learning Center , Washington State University / Jefferson County, Port Hadlock, WA 1999-present
Technology Coordinator/ Community Educator, Washington State University / Jefferson County, Port Hadlock, WA 1997-99
Community Resource Training Coordinator (School to Work); Chimacum School District #49, Chimacum WA. 1996-97
Headmaster, Director of Curriculum; A Kula International Junior / Senior High School, Kilauea, HI. 1995-96
District Technology Coordinator, Distance Learning Coordinator, Chimacum School District #49, Chimacum WA. 1991-95
I included all of this extra, job-related stuff way down at the end of this biography / resumé because I have found that all the differsent pathways we take through life intersect eventually. I am as interested in education as I am in music and I feel it is important to share that information with those of you who read this far. Who knows where it will take us? How wonderful to be able to combine the two!
A few last personal notes:
In my journey the dulcimer has been my philosopher’s stone; teaching and transforming me. Throughout my life I have found that whatever I touched with music yielded its best nature and beckoned the same from within me.
For many of my thirty years of teaching, performing upon, and writting compositions for the dulcimer, twenty of those years were in partnership with Albert d’Ossché, departed from this planet these past eight years. Separately and together we careened around the country and parts of Europe doing things with the American Dulcimer no one had ever seen or heard. More on both Albert and myself can be found at: http://robertforce.com/wilddulcimer/WDCH112.HTM
I have been married to Janette Force for 26 years and have two children now in college: Dakotah, 21 at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah and Sam, 18, at Beloit College in Wisconsin. Janette and I are also grandparents to Molly Janette Force. Molly’s mother Kelly is an artist who also has work on the web.
- Robert Force
- 1228 Blaine Street
- Port Townsend, WA. 98368
- (360) 385-4003