Trivia: If you are a hurdy gurdyist. What are you?

Answer:  A person who plays the hurdy gurdy.

I’m old enough to remember the hurdy gurdy song.  Now I finally know what a hurdy gurdy is!

The Hurdy Gurdy

International Festival Day in Waynesville was fabulous.  A little rain, but what’s a little water among friends.   The dance troupe from France was backed by a wonderful group of hurdy gurdyists.   And they entertained the crowd gathered on Main Street.  The hurdy gurdy is generally thought to have originated from fiddles in either Western Europe or the Middle East some time prior to the eleventh century A.D.  The most common name for this instrument is the wheel fiddle.

The lady we spoke to from France said basically, you crank the wheel, and push down on these keys…  the wheel always plays (vibrates) some strings, but cranking vibrates other strings and you have different sounds.  Pushing down on the keys acts much like a piano in that it shortens the strings, changing the pitch of the sound.

An Open Hurdy Gurdy

The Dance Group from France played these instruments at the reception after the Gala Preview.  We were fortunate to catch some of their performance and posted it previously here.  They are playing the Hurdy Gurdy.

Hurdy Gurdy from Wikipedia

If you are really interested check Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia, “this mechanism consists of a loose bridge under a drone string. The tail of this buzzing bridge is inserted into a narrow vertical slot (or held by a peg in Hungarian instruments) that holds the buzzing bridge in place (and also serves as a bridge for additional drone strings on some instruments). The free end of the dog (called the hammer) rests on the soundboard of the hurdy gurdy and is more or less free to vibrate. When the wheel is turned slowly the pressure on the string (called the trompette on French instruments) holds the bridge in place, sounding a drone. When the crank is accelerated, the hammer lifts up and vibrates against the soundboard, producing a characteristic rhythmic buzz that is used as an articulation or to provide percussive effect, especially in dance pieces.

On French-style instruments, the sensitivity of the buzzing bridge can be altered by turning a peg called a tirant in the tailpiece of the instrument that is connected by a wire or thread to the trompette. The tirant adjusts the lateral pressure on the trompette and thereby sets the sensitivity of the buzzing bridge to changes in wheel velocity. There are various stylistic techniques that are used as the player turns the crank, speeding up the wheel at various points in its revolution. Each sped-up “hit” produces a distinct buzzing sound. These hits are under the control of the player, and are not automatic, having to be put in with each complete turn of the wheel.‚Äù

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