Antonio Poves has published a wonderfully detailed site dedicated to the organistrum, the earliest incarnation of the hurdy-gurdy. Although often thought of as an instrument for two players, Antonio points out that there are examples of instruments for one player, and that the defining characteristic is the location of the keybox (to the side of the body, rather than on top) rather than the number of players. The site is based on his doctoral thesis on the organistrum, which won an award for the best thesis in the area of Fine Art at the Polytechnic University of Valencia in Spain. The site includes information on a number of organistrums that he has reconstructed with the help of luthiers, as well as linked to recordings and videos he has made of the instrument. A very rich site and well worth visiting. Online here.
Jonathan Janson maintains a wonderful site called essential vermeer, which is dedicated to the work and life of Dutch painting master, Vermeer. A fantastic resource in its own right, it also includes a section on folk music at the time of Vermeer, including a comprehensive essay by Adelheid Rech on the hurdy-gurdy. Beautifully illustrated with period paintings and well written, it is an excellent guide to the history of the instrument. Well worth a read. Online here.
Back in 1999, Jon Hall put together a great site on the hurdy-gurdy. The core of this is a photographic diary showing the construction of his hurdy-gurdy by British maker, Mike Gilpin. An interesting look at the stages of making a hurdy-gurdy.
“What have I learned whilst having my instrument made? Well I guess that the most important thing is that actaully seeing your own gurdy being built from week to week is a wonderful thing. I would recommend that if possible, you should make an effort to go and see what your maker is doing. Not to chase them up, not to hurry them along but just to see what is happening. For those of us who have trouble putting a shelf up straight, seeing a pile of wood turn into a hurdy-gurdy is almost miraculous.
If you have a good relationship with your maker (as I would like to think I have with Mike) then it is easy to ask questions and perhaps (as we did) agree on little changes and modifications that you might like.”
Interview with German maker, Kurt Reichmann
Ina Lemm talks to German hurdy-gurdy maker, Kurt Reichmann. Nice introduction to the instrument and the work of Reichmann.