Summer School blog: What is a Hurdy Gurdy?

summer school guitar squareDartington International Summer School and Festival is a four-week programme packed with courses, workshops and masterclasses aimed at undergraduate and postgraduate students, young professionals and amateur musicians. It also stages over eighty concerts performed by some of the most established musicians for members of the public to enjoy, right in the heart of Dartington’s breathtaking estate.

Check out our blog each week in the lead up to and during the Summer School for festival highlights, news stories, behind the scenes gossip and interviews.


The Hurdy Gurdy is thought to originate from the early fiddles of Europe or the Middle East in 11th century.

It is a stringed instrument that produces sound when its rosined wheel rubs against the strings to make a drone. The wheel functions much like a violin bow, and single notes played on the instrument sound similar to those of a violin.

Hurdy Gurdy
Hurdy Gurdy

An early ancestor of the Hurdy Gurdy was the Organistrum, a large guitar shaped instrument so large that it took two people to play it!

The name was coined around the mid-18th century and was probably derived from the sound the instrument makes.

Most Hurdy Gurdies have multiple drone strings resulting in a sound similar to that of bagpipes. For this reason, the Hurdy Gurdy is often used interchangeably or along with bagpipes, particularly in Occitan, Catalan, Sardinian, Cajun French and contemporary Galician and Hungarian folk music.

 


 

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