1. Video: Jelängerjelieber — Solo Hurdy Gurdy

    Jelängerjelieber played on solo gurdy as a wickler/slängpolska for an epic eight minutes (it feels like much less on the other side of the instrument!) — so grab the nearest person and wickl some time away :)

    This lovely tune is Matthias Branschke’s Säckpipa version of what was originally a Sorbish song from the Kralsches Geigenspielbuch called “Fa ßym ta jena hubena ßryota”, and was given a new name by the Verein zur Förderung traditioneller Musik des deutschsprachigen Raums (who need a new name themselves, phew), and published in 2015 in “Neues aus alten Büchern 2” — full of nice tunes and highly recommended.

    Sheet music for this tune is available here

    The instrument is a 2nd generation Vio gurdy from me, recorded with an AKG C1000S and the internal pickup.

  2. Spent this morning doing maintenance work on this very old hurdy gurdy with a very interesting history, which I shall be writing more about soon:

  3. Spent this morning meeting a very interesting old hurdy gurdy owned by some very interesting people. Tomorrow we’re off to find a lathe with which to fix it.

  4. trompette study tip: watch the trompette string whilst buzzing. Watching its motion can help judge the evenness of your buzzes, and help identify buzzes which are weaker, shorter or merging together. It’s a convenient, built-in way of making the invisible (sound) visible (movement of a string).

  5. Based on what I learned from the coup de catre, I will not claim to be able to play the coup de six until I can freely stress or miss any of the buzzes, start the coup from any location, and use it to play in 7 and 5 time. Step one: balancing exercises! Slowly beginning to be able to start the coup de six from any of the six buzzes.

  6. Successfully re-booked! A member of security staff asked to see my hurdy gurdy purely out of curiosity, which is a first for me. Usually they either don’t care or require a swab and search.

  7. Drehleierwiki has a very comprehensive list of string suggestions, and is excellent reference if you’re not sure where to get strings, what to get, or simply want to try something new.

    I’m currently using a Thomastik Infeld Dominant Viola a1 medium, (synth core, aluminium wound) as my g, some unbranded roundwound violin G (turns out roundwound doesn’t sit nicely with my gurdy) and a Violin D for the D. Planning on replacing the D with another low G set up for harmony playing, and maybe trying some gut strings for my trompettes after I’ve made new chiens.

  8. Thoroughly enjoyed playing at Portið this Sunday and met a bunch of awesome people! Turns out that (probably for the first time in history) it was one of two concerts in Reykjavík on the same day.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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!