Definition and background:
A stringed instrument consisting of a wooden frame over which several strings are stretched. The strings are then struck with hammers. This instrument has an ancient history, and is still used as a popular folk instrument. An instrument that originated in Persia. strings, which are stretched over a soundboard, are hit by hammers. The type popular in the U.S. is the Appalachian dulcimer and is plucked, not hammered.
A stringed instrument that came to Europe from the East during the Middle Ages. Its strings are struck with hammers held in the hands.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary