1. Much as I miss building hurdy gurdies, using my current one for 1.5 years now is teaching me a huge amount about what to better next time. Dragging it around Europe in a rucksack was an excellent stress test, and the various repairs I’ve had to do (and continue to have to do) over the last few months highlights areas I need to put more thought into in the future.

    For example, the aluminium axle with setscrew arrangement is inadequate due to it coming loose over a period of 6 months, the trompette disengager I made was much too fragile, the strap knobs need to be glued into a solid, well-attached internal block making contact to two planes, ditto for the bridge-end string holders — having them pull up against binding (which the instrument would be better off without anyway) is inadequate. Additionally, an adjustable melody string bridge is a no-brainer, and building custom capos is almost certainly unnecessary and produces worse results than just using harp capos.

    Edit: having said all of that, it’s still a good-sounding, stable, very playable instrument.

  2. Had a wonderful time playing at Stóri Eyglóar-dagurinn — thanks to all who came and supported Eygló! Played my new tunes The Taste of Words and Jellyfish 500 (not yet notated), and accompanied Eygló singing Vísur Vatnsenda Rósu and Sofðu unga ástin mín.

    I didn’t video it myself but hope to have one to link to in a week or so.

  3. Yesterday I dug out this rather odd track from January:

    It was recorded after a visit to Hayling Island, wherein we found an assortment of sea creatures, all of whom, according to tradition, were called Gordon. One was alive, and thus the tune was named.

  4. Built a wheel speed measuring device 24hrs before leaving for festivals, and it turns out that without absolute positioning (which I certainly don’t have time to build) it’s actually not much use as it doesn’t tell you anything that an audio recording of the trompette does in far higher detail.

    The data could still be useful for controlling effects, but again, the audio level is a more accessible indicator of speed than actual measurement equipment.

    For teaching purposes, the thing which would actually be useful (as always) is not the measuring equipment, but a UI which shows you trompette traces from pro players alongside yours in real time and allows you to compare them. I’ll have a go at prototyping this if I get time tomorrow and bring it along to Chateau d’Ars if it’s successful.

  5. That Steve Tyler is some sort of compositional genius:

    Really pleased to see him publishing more of his music online. If you get a chance to go see him play (with Katy or Andy or whoever else really), don’t pass it up!

  6. Unexplained Sounds — Whistle

    My first experiment with using sped-up oceanic hydrophone recordings as a musical element, contrasted against the Hurdy Gurdy.

    This one is a currently (2014-04) unidentified sound (probably an underwater volcano erupting) known as “whistle”.

  7. Last night: fixed intonation, fitted tapping string. Even without a dedicated EM pickup it’s sounding great! Can’t wait to get it hooked up to an amp.

  8. And my hurdy gurdy is fixed! Huge thanks to Brooks Hood for letting me use his workshop space — top guy, highly recommended for guitar repair work if you’re in Reykjavík.

  9. Fitted basic optical encode circuit to my , now figuring out optimal settings for calculating wheel speed. Notes:

    Sane gurdy speed of 14 revs every 10 seconds = 1.4 RPS
    52 markers on wheel = 52 * 1.4 = 72.8 transitions per second ≈ 73Hz minimal input signal
    Timer nominal input freq is Fosc / 4 = 4MHz / 4 = 1Mhz
    Max prescaling = 1:256, i.e. TMR0 increments once for every 256 Fosc/4 pulses
    Resultant timer freq = 1Mhz / 256 = 0.00390625 Mhz = 3906.25 Hz
    Input signal has ≈50% duty cycle so periods between pulses should be 1 / 73 = 13.69863014ms
    Period of 3906.25Hz wave = 0.256ms
    Num pulses @ 3906.25Hz after 13.7ms = 13.7 / 0.256 = 53.515625
    1.4 RPS is minimal normal gurdy trompette playing speed, so counting 54 clicks per transition gives a little space for speeding up and a lot of space for slowing down.
    High gurdy trompetting speed of 24 revs per 10 seconds = 2.4 RPS
    TPS = 52 * 2.4 ≈ 124.8 = 125Hz maximum input signal = wavelength of 1 / 125 = 8ms
    Num pulses @ 3906.25Hz after 8ms = 8 / 0.256 = 31.25

    So these values should give a just-wide-enough span of ≈20 ticks between nominal and trompetting speed, with room to halve or potentially even quarter the prescaler if this turns out to not be enough. One advantage of these values is space to track much slower wheel movements, opening this up to be used for slower performance tools as well as speed measuring.

    An external switch could always adjust the prescaler if necessary to cover both use cases.

  10. Sophie Dennis: @BarnabyWalters I mistook part of the handwritten notes for "disco" - an extreme example of varying tune for different dance types :)

    @sophiedennis haha yeah “dissociation” is the French word for trompette rhythms to go with the melody, abbreviated to “disso”. But if anyone could do disco gurdy, it’s Gregory Jolivet ;)

  11. Last night’s @hakkavelin mutilation repair work worked perfectly! I now have a rather nice sounding electro-acoustic hurdy gurdy.

    Next steps: wire up the internal microphone, put a plate over the hole in the back, fit the raspberry pi and power supply.

  12. Sad news about the George Sand committee on rencontresdeluthiers.org — I don’t know exactly what this means for Chateau d’Ars but I’m assuming it’s either not going to continue, or will continue in a diminished form.

    Attending for the first time last year was one of the most intense and enjoyable trips I’ve ever been on, filled with wonderful instruments, music and even more amazing people. Whatever happens to the festival, those things will remain.