1. Cookin’ up a new gurdy preamp with even less noise than before. The secret ingredient? The pot itself! Turns out EM shielding is every bit as important as all those grumpy people on guitar forums spend their spare time telling each other.

  2. Augmented Hurdy Gurdy Experiments

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPGKeMdRU5I

    As I can’t currently commit to building a new series of gurdies due to my living situation, I’ve been keeping myself busy developing the MIDI system for my instruments, to develop new extended, augmented playing techniques.

    This video is the first demonstration of some hybrid electronic-acoustic experiments using the prototype MIDI system installed on my hurdy gurdy.

    0:22 Technique: Pitch-shifting Polyphony

    Gurdy MIDI and Audio → Apogee ONE → Macbook running a puredata patch

    Monophonic acoustic gurdy signal is pitch-shifted down in real time to play chords and harmonies. Chords and intervals on the keyboard can also be used to pitch-shift the trompette signal (0:55) or the drones. Inspired by an idea from Sébastien Tron.

    1:18 Technique: Expressive MIDI Controller

    Hurdy Gurdy MIDI → DIY Hybrid Poly Synth based off Mutable Instruments Ambika

    The keyboard and wheel sensors send MIDI note, expression and polyphonic aftertouch messages to a polyphonic synthesizer. In this case a split keyboard effect is used to play two sounds.

    1:36 Technique: Layered Acoustic and Electronic Sound

    Hurdy Gurdy Acoustic audio, Gurdy MIDI → DIY Hybrid Poly Synth based off Mutable Instruments Ambika

    1:36 The acoustic string plays a melody, the bottom half of the keyboard controls a synthesizer with a long release for subtle held chords

    2:08 Using trompette technique can send MIDI messages, used here to play synthesized percussion on an Ambika voice assigned to MIDI channel 10, whilst the keyboard plays chords.

    2:30 Acoustic trompette and melody string sound layered over subtle polyphonic synthesized chords

    Playing, Instrument and Software: Barnaby Walters https://gurdy.is https://waterpigs.co.uk
    Polyphonic Pitch-shifting idea: Sébastien Tron
    Filming, editing: Adriana Borger

  3. After missing the crowdfunding campaign, I was happy to finally be able to buy a copy of Tobie Miller’s excellent Bach solo hurdy gurdy CD at Chateau d’Ars last week. I couldn’t find any official album artwork on the web yet, so here is a quick scan of the cover, for anyone else who got a copy already.

  4. Successfully exhibited my acoustic/electric/electronic gurdy at the Mazurki Festival Tagowisko Instrumentow! Thanks to everyone who came by, and a special shout-out to the one person who recognised the Shruthi XT!

  5. I’ll be at the Mazurki Festival Tagowisko Instrumentów (Musical Instrument Exhibition) with my instruments on Saturday the 28th. It’s not on the English programme, but is on the Polish one so is definitely happening! Come and try out my gurdies, and see my (experimental) MIDI system and hybrid synth in action!

  6. Hurdy Gurdy , finished and picked up by the customer!

    3x chanters, 2x drones, 2x trompettes, 4x capos, 4x sympathetic strings, 3 channel active preamp system. Very happy with how this one came out — in fact I need to retro-fit some of the electronics changes onto my own instrument… No more 50Hz hum!

  7. ✅ improved gurdy MIDI system
    ✅ improved 3 channel gurdy preamplifier
    ✅ DIY hybrid digital+analogue synthesizer

    After a year of work on the hardware and software, finally all the pieces are in place to start composing!

  8. Video: The Poisonous Polonaise (Polonoise No. 19, Wittenberger Apothekenhandschrift, Deutschland)

    More music from Emilyn, John and me!

    https://youtu.be/p3_6zcVobEE

    This one is a beautiful polonaise found in the Wittenberger Apothekenhandschrift, a hand written dance manuscript found in the Giftschrank (poisonous substance cabinet) in an old pharmacy in Wittenberge, Germany.

    Sheet music for this piece, and many other amazing northern German traditional music, can be found in volumes 1-3 of Neues aus Alten Büchern (new things from old books) published by Tramudea e.V., and also on tanzmusikarchiv.de and the TradTanzMusik youtube channel.

    Recorded in Toronto, Canada on 2017-05-12

    Barnaby Walters: Hurdy Gurdy https://gurdy.is
    Emilyn Stam: 5 String Fiddle
    John David Williams: Accordion

  9. Video: Lights in the Sky (Barnaby Walters)

    Finally the first video from my trip to Canada last month! Playing with Emilyn and John is always a blast, and this time we recorded a bunch of tunes. More to come!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dhxygxmaiSE

    A waltz I wrote whilst living in Iceland, recorded for the first time with Emilyn Stam and John David Williams on 2017-05-12 in Toronto, Canada.

  10. decided to give up strings on my gurdies. best listened to with headphones.

  11. Doing some prototyping+testing for the next MIDI-enabled gurdy board:

    My current approach is an Arduino (Genuino) Uno with a custom made board with a line of hall effect sensors, and the various other boards plugged into the Arduino. It works, but there are various problems — wiring the whole thing together is a hassle; the limited I/O on the Uno requires me to multiplex the sensors, introducing delays; hand-soldering through-hole sensors means they’re all in slightly different positions; and a single line of sensors isn’t enough to cover the whole throw of a key, resulting in notes turning off when they’re bent too far.

    I heard about emsproto.com and was initially considering designing a board containing the sensors and microcontroller myself, and having it built, but after drafting up a very simple one-component test board and seeing that there’s a base cost of €200 per board for PCB and assembly, I decided on another approach.

    The next version of the board will be a custom designed sensor and breakout board with two rows of surface-mounted hall effect sensors, into which I can plug a Teensy 3.5, removing the need for multiplexing, vastly increasing the speed at which the system can run, and opening up various possibilities like easy-to-implement USB-MIDI support.

  12. FOR SALESOLD: Two newly built Hurdy Gurdies

    The first two instruments from this winter’s series are now for sale. The new design is an evolution of my previous instruments, aiming to be more compact whilst having a loud, mellow, balanced sound. The instruments fit nicely in Ritter Alto/Tenor sax bags (I’ve flown several times with this model as hand luggage without any problems).

    Vio #4 for €2700 + P&P from Germany

    https://youtu.be/BLZDyc99MXw

    This instrument can be seen played together with a violin in this video from Folk Marathon 2016.

    2x melody strings (G and g)
    2x drones (C and G)
    2x trompettes (C and G)
    Fully chromatic two octave keyboard (including F# in the upper octave)
    Height-adjustable melody string bridge
    Adjustable drone bridges

    Fitting capos and/or an amplification system is also possible.

    Vio #5 for €3150 + P&P from Germany

    https://youtu.be/ddGXaQiN97E

    2x melody strings (G and g)
    2x drones (C and G)
    2x trompettes (C and G)
    4x sympathetic strings (C, G, D, A)
    4x capos (one for each drone and trompette string)
    Three channel active amplification system
    Fully chromatic two octave keyboard (including F# in the upper octave)
    Height-adjustable melody string bridge
    Adjustable drone bridges

    Some more photos:

    Both instruments are now sold, but I may be available for new builds over the next year, Contact me at barnaby@waterpigs.co.uk if you’re interested.

    Interested? Questions? Contact me at barnaby@waterpigs.co.uk for more information.

  13. FOR SALESOLD: Prototype “Vio” Hurdy Gurdy €2700 + P&P from Germany

    This is the twin of my current personal instrument, originally built four years ago but finished recently. The video was taken after only one day of setting up and breaking in, so it’s a bit scratchy, and intended to give an impression of the raw sound of the instrument (both acoustic and from the two internal pickups), ready for you to tame (or not, if you prefer!)

    The instrument has three chanters (currently G, d and g), two drones (currently C and G) and two trompettes, also C and G. The C drone and trompette are fitted with capos, raising the pitch by one tone. The chanter bridge height is adjustable.

    The instrument is fitted with two passive internal pickups, one on the soundboard below the bridge giving a good overall sound, and one on the chanter bridge itself, giving a very focused chanter sound (almost no trompette!). The sounds from both pickups can be heard in the video. There is one jack for each pickup, enabling you to mix them or apply separate effects externally.

    The whole body is made from flamed maple, the keys and other small details are ebony, with screwed wooden tangents. The instrument is a prototype, and therefore has some minor cosmetic and design flaws; otherwise it is a fine, working instrument at a special prototype price.

    I’ve already had some interest in the instrument and am waiting until Monday for a potential buyer to get back to me, other than that it’s first-come-first served. Any questions, etc. comment/message/email me barnaby@waterpigs.co.uk2016-10-18 this instrument is now sold to Isarnos in the UK — looking forward to hearing what they do with it! I’m currently building more instruments, drop me an email if you’re interested.