Friday, September 26, 2014

Medieval Hurdy Gurdy by Bryan Tolley

submitted by Bryan Tolley

Those of you interested in early music might be interested in the medieval hurdy-gurdy I have been building recently. It is based on an illustration from the Rutland Psalter (c.1250) that shows King David playing an organ; beside the king there's another musician with an early hurdy-gurdy (or possibly a small organistrum). I've made drawings based on the proportions from the illustration, and two instruments have been built.

The three strings have been arranged as two chanterelles and a drone (a single chanterelle proved too feeble), and the drone has been fitted with capos to allow three tones. The instruments are from maple and I couldn't resist the blue and white decoration. If you want further details then look on the medieval hurdy-gurdy page of my web site.

If you're interested in the medieval hurdy-gurdy then there's a couple of videos on You Tube to describe the instrument. They are in English but when I have time I'll make a French version for those who can't understand this gibberish. The two links are [attached] below.

▶ Medieval hurdy-gurdy reconstructed from the Rutland Psalter c.1250 - YouTube

▶ Medieval hurdy-gurdy reconstructed from the Rutland Psalter c.1250 - YouTube

Just a footnote concerning the medieval hurdy-gurdy. The keyboards are chromatic; I know this isn't the same as the instrument shown in the illustration but the most musicians want this to ensure that any tune can be played. Secondly, the tuners are mechanical. Sorry, another modern convenience. They could be changed for regular tapered pegs but you'd probably spend more time keeping the gut strings in tune than turning the crank.

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