Website of “La Maison du Luthier, Jenzat”, a museum in Pajot’s house in Jenzat, Bournonnais devoted to the tradition of hurdy-gurdy making. In their own words:
The Maison du Luthier at Jenzat is devoted to ethnologic heritage, its purpose being to present a very specific tradition in musical instrument-making, shown in its original setting.
The Museum is housed in the former home of the instrument-maker J.-A. Pajot (1845-1920), in the neighbourhood where the hurdy-gurdy makers lived in Jenzat (“Aymard”, “Decante et Cailhe”, “Nigout”, “Pimpard Cousin”, “Pimpard Cousin fils”, “Pajot fils”, “Pajot jeune”, “Tixier”) Europe’s main centre for the making of hurdy-gurdies in the l9th and 20th centuries.
It includes a collection of hurdy-gurdies and other musical instruments ; a collection of tools used by instrument-makers ; the hurdy-gurdy workshop ; the brass instruments workshop (1934) ; a room for studying and viewing video films about making and playing the hurdy-gurdy ; an interactive terminal.
Hurdy-gurdies have been made in Jenzat since 1795.
Nice Belgian website by Ruprecht Niepold focused mainly on the hurdy-gurdy. Particularly nice photo-essay on the construction of a hurdy-gurdy here, a gallery of instruments from different makers here and a frequently maintained list of lost and stolen instruments to keep an eye out for here.
A day and two nights packed with dances, concerts, workshops, sessions with Blowzabella, Esquisse (Brittany) and guests.
Blowzabella produce an inimitable, driving drone-based sound played with a fabulous sense of melody, rhythmic expertise and sheer feeling. They have played everywhere from the main stage at Glastonbury Festival to the outer reaches of Brazil and West Africa. They compose their own music which is influenced by British and European traditional dance music. Many bands across Europe who experiment with the boundaries of folk music cite Blowzabella as a major influence. Andy Cutting- diatonic button accordion. Jo Freya - clarinet, saxophones. Paul James - bagpipes, saxophones. Gregory Jolivet - hurdy-gurdy. Dave Shepherd - violin. Barn Stradling - bass guitar. Jon Swayne - bagpipes, saxophones.
Esquisse is the best young band to emerge from Brittany in the last 5 years and this is their UK debut. Thrilling music and virtuoso playing - they are in a completely different league to most bands playing traditional dance music. Pierre Le Normand – drums. Thomas Badeau – clarinet. Gweltaz Hervé – soprano saxophone. François Badeau - diatonic accordion.
Friday 27 April
Doors open 7pm. 8pm-11pm. Blowzabella. Dance/concert.
Saturday 28 April
Workshops 10am-5pm – British and European folk dances, folk orchestra (playing and arranging folk dance tunes, all ages, all instruments, all abilities), master classes in diatonic accordion, hurdy-gurdy, folk violin, bagpipes. Dance Tune Competition.
Doors open 7pm. 7:30pm-9pm. Blowzabella. 9:30-11:30pm. Esquisse
For full programme and further information, including workshop music and places to stay, go to www.blowzabella.com
Queries? phone Paul James 0788 794 8853.
Friday and Saturdayticket for everything - Adults £52. 16 years old and under £12
Saturday workshops and Saturday night dance - Adults £38. 16 years old and under £10
Saturday workshops only (10am-5pm) – Adults £25. 16 years old and under £5.Friday night dance - Adults £15. 16 years old and under £5. Saturday night dance - Adults £16. 16 years old and under £5.
It appears that Nigel Eaton’s composition, Halsway Schottische (or Halsway Carol) has somewhat of a cult following. This page provides the sheet music for the tune, plus a link to some 40 different arrangements and recordings of it. What’s more, they’re looking for more! Record your version and send the link to this email!
Workshop Weekend - Sint-Michielsgestel, Netherlands, 21-22 April 2012
The Dutch hurdy-gurdy and bagpipe foundation (Stichting Draailier en Doedelzak) have arranged a workshop for hurdy-gurdy and bagpipe players of every standard this coming weekend, 21-22 April. More details here.
Fete de la vielle, Anost, France, 15-19 August 2012
Now an unmissable event in Burgundy, the Fête de la vielle has gradually made a name for itself among the biggest traditional music and dance festivals in France. For 4 days, Anost vibrates to the sound of bagpipes, violins, diatonic accordions and the hurdy-gurdy. The programme features different concerts and improvised jam sessions in the village’s bars and restaurants. Each year, 20 000 people come to Anost in Burgundy to experience this friendly festival. More here.
Hurdy Gurdy - Remix, play and enjoy. Based on three songs from Bidaia's last album, Duo, this app allows you to play the hurdy-gurdy by moving your iPhone or iPad and create your own mix that can be saved to MP3 format.
Website of “the Hurdy-Gurdy Band” - a hurdy-gurdy duo. Features a lot of nice historical images of the hurdy-gurdy - but beware the homepage of the site launches into some unrequested hurdy-gurdy playing, so you may want to turn the volume down on your computer!
Festival of traditional musics and folk dances, 13-15 July 2012 La Châtre, France
Instrument-makers, concerts, folk dances and a unique atmosphere, the festival has become THE meeting place of traditional music in Europe. A unique show of instrument makers which welcomes 130 instrument makers from the whole world presenting and selling their instruments: bagpipes, hurdy-gurdies, accordions, wind instruments, percussion and many more…
30 concerts and folk dances are scheduled, providing an opportunity to hear the variety and the wealth of traditional music. Various activities are scheduled during the day, including : dance workshops, presentation of instruments, competitions, folk dances for children, Apérosol, meetings with the musicians.
Over the Water Hurdy-gurdy festival is an annual week-long gathering of hurdy-gurdy players in September of each year in Washington state. As well as offering a fantastic event, they also publish the music for a standard set of bourrees, schottisches, valses and other tunes used as the basis for their jam sessions. You can download PDF or ABC versions of the tunes here.
UK hurdy-gurdy luthier, Chris Allen, hosts a couple of collections of tunes for the hurdy-gurdy on his website here. These include 50 tunes collected by Graham Whyte (aka Jamie Hammond) and a collection of Ukraine and Lemko tunes for hurdy-gurdy from the Werner Icking Music archive.
Richard Haynes Music Services are offering a series of 18th Century pieces for hurdy-gurdy that Richard has transcribed from original scores written on the French violin clef. He makes a nominal charge for the music, which is available for download from his website here. Pieces include:
Barnaby Walters is hosting a sheet music database dedicated to the hurdy-gurdy. To find a tune, use the Search function (and if you don’t enter any particular search string it will return all the tunes in the database). Tunes are returned in abc notation (described in my previous posting) so you’ll need to use an application to render them as a score.
British hurdy-gurdy maker, Mike Gilpin, has compiled a collection of 152 traditional French dance tunes from the Morvan region of France. This is available from his website here for £8.95 plus package and posting (worldwide shipping). Payment by UK cheque or PayPal.
Much of the music available on the Internet is stored in “abc notation”. This format dates from the early 1990’s and is a way of representing complex musical scores using normal text characters - which can then easily be emailed or shown on a web page. ABC notation is not designed to be human readable, and so having downloaded the music you use software to convert the text into a conventional musical score. Fortunately there are many free applications available for Windows, MacOS and Linux. A good starting point is the abc notation home page (maintained by Chris Walshaw, original inventor of the notation) or the official ABC Music project pages on Sourceforge (for the more technical minded).
After a few months of waiting, my new Chris Allen Symphonie arrived this week. It’s a beautiful instrument and so I thought I’d post some photographs and provide some initial impressions. The Symphonie is modeled on the earliest form of hurdy-gurdy, the mediaeval symphonie, which was in use from the 12th Century onwards. Little is known about exactly how they were configured, but this model is based on a modern stringing - with two chanterelles (tuned together in g), and with a drone in G and trompette in C, all strung with oiled gut. The drone and trompette are fitted with capos to allow them to be changed to C and D respectively - allowing the instrument to be played in the keys of Gmaj/Gmin and Cmaj/Cmin.
The instrument is very quiet - a characteristic of Symphonies - with a delicate, sweet tone. It is well suited to practicing in a household shared with others, for accompanying singing or for use in mediaeval reenactments. The trompette reacts very easily and the chien produces a pleasant rasping buzz when it sounds. A tirant allows the sensitivity to be quickly adjusted - a must, particularly when engaging or disengaging the capo.
One of the most delightful aspects of the instrument is the keyboard, which is is beautifully smooth and has a fantastically light and fast response. Although full-sized, it feels small and compact and makes playing around the two-octave range a joy. I found no difficulty playing the full range of notes, with even the highest notes having a clean sound.
The tangents are made from wood and screwed into the key, which should prevent issues of loose tangents and buzzes with humidity changes. The key travel is damped with a green felt strip, and the resulting action is very quiet.
You can play the instrument with or without the lid attached. Playing with the lid on provides a slightly quieter, softer tone, with the chanterelles sounding relatively quieter (compared to the drone and trompette) than with the lid off. With the lid off, you get brighter sounding chanterelles, with less noticeable difference on the trompette and drone. I haven’t yet decided which I prefer.
The strings are tuned with four standard mechanical tuning pegs. There’s no fancy geared tuning pegs on this instrument (in keeping with its mediaeval design) and so I’ve cheated and fitted some violin fine tuners which clip onto the chanterelles and trompette and allow me to easily make fine tuning adjustments. At only €1.60 each, I thoroughly recommend them for any hurdy-gurdy - although you may need to find a good luthier to get hold of them, as most violins use fine-tuners that mount in the tail-piece.
Overall, this is a delightful instrument. If you are after a loud instrument for dance music or playing in sessions, then this is not for you. However, if you want an instrument to accompany singing, to practice without disturbing the family or to carry about whilst dressed as a wandering minstrel, this is the instrument for you.
RootsWorld have a nice review of the album, le maîtres de la vielle baroque(French Music for hurdy-gurdy) online. They say:
Both tackling the hurdy-gurdy repertoire with extensive backgrounds in a variety of musical forms, Loibner and Delfino shed light on some of the gems of the baroque hurdy-gurdy on this album. The composers are hardly commonplace, but on listening to the selections recorded here, the listener must wonder why not. With all the drama and complexity expected of the baroque era, these pieces are sophisticated, subtle, expressive, and utterly charming. Loibner and Delfino match the quality of the compositions with their blend of solid musical-historical knowledge, exceptional technique and innate musicality. From the melancholy yearning expressed in Dupuits’s Oeuvre 3, 1ère, Ariette “Gracieusement” to the vigorously regal Oeuvre 2, 4eme, Allegro “La Bully” by Buterne, Loibner and Delfino demonstrate their mastery of the instrument as well as their strong connection to the music.