Building a hurdy gurdy: Part Two (Fiona)

[Read part one first.]

When I got back from a Minstrels of the Forest rehearsal (at John’s house) on May 19th, I decided to finish the hurdy by our next rehearsal, and in time for our next gig (The Laskett Garden’s, June 21st, 2014). The base and lid pieces are sufficiently flattened for me to carry on, and I’ve made good progress. Small point: it’s not actually a true hurdy gurdy, they came a bit later. This is the early prototype, the ‘symphony’, which would have been around in medieval times. I’ve loved the kit. It’s from the Early Music Shop (London), a joint project between the EMS and the instrument builder Toomas Marga.

Here you can see the base being glued on. Seemed easier than using hundreds of clamps.


Then the bridge was shaped and inserted.

photo-22This is the wheel brace being fitted. The hurdy wheel will go in between the bridge and wheel brace.


My favourite bit so far, putting all the bits together and seeing the how the finished instrument will look. The handle is turned by your right hand, while your left hand reaches over the instrument (on your lap) to press key sliders (here on the unseen side of the hurdy).

photo-25So, what’s left? Writing on 30th May 2014, the instrument has been varnished. It’s time to put on the strings and see what sort of sounds we’re going to get! (See Building a hurdy gurdy: Part Three). Can’t wait. Losing sleep over it…

Here are some medieval illustrations to drool over:

The first is from the manuscript of Cantigas De Santa Maria Alfonso X (1221-1284). Two symphonies! Almost more excitement than I can bear.


Here, another from the Luttrell Psalter (1320-1340) in the British Library.


Work concludes in part three.














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