Music Of The Hurdy-gurdy - Nigel Eaton And Friends

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The hurdy-gurdy is a European string instrument. Its exact origins are obscure but it seems to have developed in the 10th and 11th centuries A.D. as an instrument used in religious music. Most European countries have, or had, a type of hurdy-gurdy. Some are lavish, others very simple but despite the wide variety of shape, size and sophistication they all work on the same principle. A handle turned by the right hand of the player revolves a wooden wheel, the edge of which continuously bows one, two and occasionally three melody strings and various drone strings. The melody (chanter) strings pass over the wheel and through a wooden keybox mounted on the belly of the instrument. Sliding wooden keys are depresssed with the fingers of the left hand to produce the melody. The other strings pass over the wheel in the same way but they continue outside the keybox, straight to the pegbox and provide the drone accompaniment to the melody. The buzzing rhythmic sound, so characteristic of the instrument, is produced by the controlled vibration of a small, loose bridge (trompette) on the soundboard. The buzz is achieved by subtle momentary acceleration of the handle, and thus the bowing of the wheel, causing the trompette string and bridge to vibrate. This is, by far, the most difficult aspect of the instrument to master. In parts of France, particularly the central regions, the hurdy-gurdy continued to be very popular throughout the 19th and into the 20th century when it began to give way to newer instruments, particularly the accordion. Over the last fifteen years there has been a significant revival of interest all over Europe, with contemporary craftsmen perfecting its design, extending the choice of materials and developing new construction techniques. A new generation of musicians are taking to the instrument and exploring a range of musical possibilities that go far beyond its traditional folk dance music role.



Product Description:


  • Catalog Number: SDL374


  • UPC: 5013133437426


  • Label: Saydisc


  • Composer: Various


  • Performer: Nigel Eaton