A stringed instrument invented during the Medieval period in which sound is produced by turning a crank connected to a rosined wheel that excites the strings, much like a violin bow. Different notes are achieved by pressing in keys to which tiny metal or wood pieces called tangents are attached that touch the melody string (or strings) and change their sounding length. These instruments usually have one or more drone strings in addition to the melody string(s) whose pitch is fixed. Often, a hurdy gurdy will possess a buzzing bridge, also known as a "dog", which supplies a rhythmic buzz every time the player sharply jerks the crank. The instrument is held on the lap with the right hand cranking the wheel and the other pressing the keys (in right-handed instruments). The hurdy gurdy sounds similar to bagpipes, but is very different in the way it produces sound. The hurdy gurdy was popular in France, among many other places in Western and Eastern Europe, and though at various points it was associated with the peasantry, it was a favorite instrument of the aristocracy in the 18th century.
What do you need for a Medieval rave? A hurdy gurdy.
by Diderot April 15, 2013