Documenting the curious world of the hurdy-gurdy.

English and French folk music - online sheet music

Nice blog here, capturing hundreds of traditional and contemporary English and French tunes, categorized by type and also by artist.  Nice collection and worth a look.  The author writes:

Over the past few years, I have collected many tunes, mostly English and French, from a number of wonderful players. This website is a constantly evolving 21st century manuscript in the spirit of the great tune books of the past. If you happen to know the composer of a specific tune, please let me know, so that they can be credited. In the event of anyone being unhappy about their own music being shared in this way, I will, of course, remove relevant items. I hope you enjoy playing them!

Over the Water - 2010 Dance Tunes

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.


A collection of traditional and modern tunes selected for the hurdy-gurdy as part of Ina Lemm’s resource site for her hurdy-gurdy tuition DVD.

See here.

Richard Robinson’s Tunebook

A great collection of folk and traditional tunes from the UK and Europe.  His collections include:

  • Traditional tunes from Ireland, England, Scotland, Scandanavia, France and further afield
  • S.E. European tunes
  • N.W. England tunes
  • Collections from old books and manuscripts, including:
  •   Aird’s Airs
  •   The Winder manuscripts
  •   Goulding and d’Almaine’s 24 Country Dances for 1826
  •   William Marshall’s Scottish melodies
  •   John of the Greeny Cheshire Way
  •   Fiddler of Helperby
  • Ukrainian tunes
  • Medieval tunes

Check out the site here.

Tunes suitable for hurdy-gurdy

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.

18th Century hurdy-gurdy music

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:

  • Baton op.3, Duet Sonata #5
  • Baton op.3, Duet Sonata #6
  • N.Chedeville, 6 Selected Pieces in C from Op.10

WaterPig hurdy-gurdy sheet music project

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.

Dansons la Morvandelle (2nd ed)

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.

Online bibliographies

Rather than duplicate existing bibliographies, I recommend readers take a look at some of the existing hurdy-gurdy bibliographies available online.  In particular:

  • Olympic Musical Instruments has an extensive list here
  • Jon Hall describes some books here

ABC music resources

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).

Some good starter music pages include:

  • ABC Tune Search - an index of 67000 tunes across the web
  • - play part of a tune into your computer and it will search for the complete ABC tune (focused on traditional Irish music).
  • ABC tune finder - search engine for tunes by title
  • FolkTuneFinder - search either by title or a few notes from the tune
  • The Session - huge online database of session tunes
  • - around 1300 tunes, including online abc rendered

Encyclopedia Blowzabellica: the Blowzabella tune and dance book

Encyclopedia Blowzabellica: the Blowzabella tune and dance book
Revised edition, 2010a

Available from here.  Great collection of English and European tunes from Blowzabella, suitable for hurdy-gurdy.  Features short section with tips on care and playing the hurdy-gurdy by Nigel Eaton.