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Thread: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

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    Registered User Narayan Kersak's Avatar
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    Default Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    I had some free time today to record this...

    I really love the way these two instruments sound together...

    https://youtu.be/gCiyLgeWnew


    https://youtu.be/gCiyLgeWnew
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    I play mandolin with a fellow who plays Hurdy Gurdy. I have a collection of great traditional French fiddle tunes that we play together, and it really rocks the house.
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    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    I often enhance my own OM videos with synthetic legato instruments, but this "medieval synthesizer" is the real thing.
    Also, this hurdy gurdy seems to be a fairly big instrument, compared to the ones I've seen so far.
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Narayan Kersak View Post
    I had some free time today to record this...

    I really love the way these two instruments sound together...

    https://youtu.be/gCiyLgeWnew
    A very nice tribute. Sorry for your loss. Music helps us through.

    P.S.: A question, is that a Stella guitar? The tailpiece reminds me of a Stella 12-string I used to have (maybe those tailpieces were common on other brands too, I don't know). I can't tell from the video what your guitar's binding is, mine was just painted on. I briefly tried to be normal & play my old Stella as a regular 12-string guitar, and then I rebelled and tuned 4 of its courses of strings to a 'proper' tuning, that is, in 5ths (GDAE, octave lower than mandolin) - I was already used to GDAE because of fiddle & mandolin experience, and the longer scale length was no problem because I'd already been plunking around on fifths-tuned tenor banjo and tenor guitar for a while. I didn't like the fat/thin strings mixed together in one course though (on the 12-string), so I changed those to unison strings instead.

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    Peace. Love. Mandolin. Gelsenbury's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    It is a beautiful tribute.

    One thing confuses me, though. In your other videos, you look right-handed.

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    Registered User Narayan Kersak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    JeffD
    Yes, one of our Irish group has also sent me some breton tunes to learn, although I really enjoy doing jigs and slip jigs on this thing.

    JL277z
    It is my Mowry Octave mandolin... Can be seen more clearly here... https://youtu.be/Rbc4z_IB9bg

    Gelsenbury
    I am right handed. I didn't even notice that the recording software flipped the image. It also didn't sync up the video with music as well this time... but it got the point across.
    Asheville Celtic Mandolin Blog and Tablature Resource.
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Narayan Kersak View Post
    JL277z
    It is my Mowry Octave mandolin... Can be seen more clearly here... https://youtu.be/Rbc4z_IB9bg
    Thanks, that sure is a beautiful instrument! Sounds great, and very nicely played.

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    Registered User Jairo Ramos Parra's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    I didn't know this instrument, sounds beautiful! It is the Platypus of the instruments?

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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    Always loved hurdy gurdy, glad to see folks are keeping the instrument alive, nice music.

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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    Yes it definitely sounds great!
    I've also had a bit of an interest for the hurdy gurdy (and nyckalharpa) for a while now, and this post has made me consider it more seriously.
    Where would you recommend starting to search for one? They're clearly not inexpensive instruments, but what's a ballpark figure for a decent used hurdy would you say?

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    Registered User Narayan Kersak's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    Hmm...not sure about platypus of instruments. It's a pretty old instrument, so maybe others took from it?

    As for where to start. Be cautious...there is a lot of crap, but on the other end there is often quite a bit of snobbery towards good stuff that's doesn't cost 20k!

    This one is an altarwind. They have a great website and are very good people and I love this instrument. It often acts like a puppy. Wherever you go with a puppy everyone wants to see it. And it often surprises me how many people know what the instrument is!

    Also, neil brook in the UK makes some great stuff. Since Celtic music is my main focus altarwind and Neil were who I was drawn too, they both have a musical focus on that too.

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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MandoNina View Post
    Yes it definitely sounds great!
    I've also had a bit of an interest for the hurdy gurdy (and nyckalharpa) for a while now, and this post has made me consider it more seriously.
    Where would you recommend starting to search for one? They're clearly not inexpensive instruments, but what's a ballpark figure for a decent used hurdy would you say?
    Musicmakers sell a kit (nfi) which would be the least expensive route of entrée; compared with other stringed instruments, building/assembling a gurdy is far easier. They also sell them finished - basic diatonic 1 treble, 2 drone model - not bad for a starter instrument...I had one. For more complicated music, look to a chromatic instrument, as well as a "dog" (rhythmic device) - I don't think the MM gurdy models have dogs, but I haven't looked in a decade or more..

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    Registered User Colin Lindsay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by tmsweeney View Post
    Always loved hurdy gurdy, glad to see folks are keeping the instrument alive, nice music.
    It's a very very old instrument, with records (written, NOT LPs!) of its' use from the 10 and 11th centuries when early versions were played by two people; one-man versions are recorded from the 14th century, so hopefully no-one will claim Andy Irvine invented it and start calling it the Irish hurdy-gurdy. (Sorry Andy... removes tongue from cheek!)
    I've just bought my third, this one made by Neil Brook, and while it's excellent as an accompaniment / harmony instrument, with the right drones (mine is tuned C or G) and good vibrato technique it can be made to sound like pipes, so suits a lot of tunes from the piping tradition.
    Cheaper ones sound terrible, my first was Polish-made and it sounded dire, but then a lot of it is down to the player . You do need to buy a good model and the quality is reflected in the tone; but don't go overboard unless you want to take it really seriously.... they can cost thousands!
    Last edited by Colin Lindsay; Jun-18-2018 at 9:50am.
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Lindsay View Post
    ...
    Cheaper ones sound terrible, my first was Polish-made and it sounded dire, but then a lot of it is down to the player . You do need to buy a good model and the quality is reflected in the tone; but don't go overboard unless you want to take it really seriously.... they can cost thousands!
    As you note it was used in much early/medieval music - gurdies (and their many names) were/are highly diverse in design and construction throughout Europe and Asia. Given the rural environment and simple folk forms, rustic instruments were devised and implemented. As with crude fiddles and various other rustic instruments of the period, these instruments served to execute the musical needs of the day. I conjecture that plenty of adequate music was/is made on rustic instruments.

    With poor set-up - especially cottoning technique - the most refined gurdy can sound like awful caterwhauling. Cottoning, tangent/key regulation, and crank technique are the key factors in tone production. The rest is basically a box with strings.

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    Registered User Colin Lindsay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    I conjecture that plenty of adequate music was/is made on rustic instruments.

    With poor set-up - especially cottoning technique - the most refined gurdy can sound like awful caterwhauling. Cottoning, tangent/key regulation, and crank technique are the key factors in tone production. The rest is basically a box with strings.
    True, but would you rather play a cigar-box version, or a Sobell equivalent, if you had a choice? Quality materials and workmanship will produce a simpler base sound that can be improved by a good musician, but only so far in the cheaper models - this applies to any instrument, not just gurdies.
    Even my own, if the room temperature has changed, gives rise to the old line: "I've heard better music from a new pair of shoes"...
    "Danger! Do Not Touch!" must be one of the scariest things to read in Braille....

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    Default Re: Hurdy Gurdy and Octave Mandolin

    Good question. I suppose much of it depends on what one is doing.

    Only that, I'm finding my sound to be assuaged by I guess relatively modest means (I'm playing I guess 80 or 90% early, medieval, or 'ethnic' forms and instruments without modern improvement - where finer instruments aren't particularly required), so my perspective is that. But I think I recall when I lusted for costly instrument.

    But mostly I was responding to "cheaper ones sound terrible." For idioms I play in, I could get by with a "cheaper" one. My fiddle and accordians (what i gave up gurdy for) aren't terribly expensive.
    Last edited by catmandu2; Jun-18-2018 at 7:42pm.

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