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
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.
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).
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
I couldn’t find the lyrics for all of the tracks collected together in one place, so here are as many as I can find or figure out.
Bells are ringing dinga linga linga linga ling-a linga linga linga ling
dinga linga linga linga ling-a linga linga linga ling
dig all the kids who carry bells, merry bells
who are they?
why they're the
Voices of spring were in chorus
each voice was singing a song
I could not sing in that chorus until I wrote me a song
I wrote my song and joined the throng (source)
What’s the most exciting thing about life?
tell me or I’ll tell you
come on come on
I know you know what I know it’s in your eyes
I’ll have to tell you, I can’t wait
it’s L O V E it’s love
and I’m in love; I’m so happy
it’s L O V E it’s love
I’m incoherent my dear
oh happy happiness
oh happy happiness, happiness
Darling the answer is love (source)
All is loneliness before me
loneliness before me
My tiny butterfly butters my bread
my briny flutterby keeps me well fed
why should I mutter?
Why spend a dark night with you?
what a fearful price to pay
other nights nights would but be
lonely dark ages for me
Coffee beans make the finest coffee of all
it’s time to take
a coffee break
to sit a while and savour
the rarest coffee flavor
of bean coffee
I make with bottled spring water
is my day (source)
Down is up and so up is down because the earth is round
there is no such thing as up or down
Be a hobo and go with me
from Hoboken to the sea
Remember, remember, remember, memeber
to vote the way
the way we say
or else what
I love you
for your lovely still small voice
I will love your still small voice
till my voice
Nero’s expedition up the Nile
because the water hyacinth
had blocked the river
denying Nero’s vessels passage through
the Sud of Nubia
No, the wheel was never invented.
no, no, no, no
your legs are spokes of a two legged wheel
and your hips are knobbly axles
the world was always on wheels
With my wealth I wish I had lived when great genius lived
what I would not have done
Fool, the writings of your dying beggar reveal that he is
by far the greatest one
This student of life
as that student for life
his Alma Mater
is all the world
with father time as mentor
Some trust all
some trust some, ho
some trust one
I trust none, ho
not even myself
Wine, woman and song are too, too much for me
I am contented with the latter two
woman and my song are simply
wine enough you see
Sadness was so mixed with gladness
that she wept with joy
she was so sad
tears filled but enhanced the smile on her face
she was so glad
Maybe, maybe, maybe someday
I’ll be recognised for what I am
before I’m dead and gone
or if not before then after it all
Each today is yesterday’s tomorrow which is now
now is all I have
now is all I need
now is all I want
Imagine what it's like to have a long suffering
night walker walking on you
I’m standing there barefoot, facing the meadow
oh, oh, something is crawling on my muddy foot
what the, it's a wet worm
I tell you I started walking, too
I mean we parted company
maybe we think it safe enough to say,
we had quite enough of us that night
You, the vandal
plunder the village as you will
the earthworm will pillage you
when you are under
Trees against the sky
fields of plenty
rivers to the sea
spreads before me
Behold the willow bows before me
but not the oak I’m uprooting
remarked the wind
Sparrows wake me in the morning in Gotham where I live
except when I’m up to Tioga
other birds wake me there
so fair their singing
Happy 2017! Here’s what Emilyn Stam (fb) and I got up to as the year changed:
Emilyn Stam (5 string fiddle) and Barnaby Walters (hurdy gurdy) playing some tunes in the basement at Folk Marathon 2016 Tübingen. 2016 changed into 2017 half way through the third tune (in our timezone, at least).
High Park Schottisch (John David Williams) Squat Waltz (Barnaby Walters)
Kathryn’s Yellow Schottisch (Emilyn Stam)
This season’s mill sport: pumpkin harvesting!
FOR SALE: 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
New music on a new instrument for you!
Churfürst zu Sachsen, König von Polen Solo Mountain Dulcimer
Originally a song from the north-eastern German Kralsches Geigenspielbuch, I play this tune as a waltz. The interpretation is inspired by the version printed in Neues aus alten Büchern 2, which I highly recommend as a source of central european dance music!
“Churfürst” refers to a member of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, whose job it was elect the pope. “König von Polen” refers to him also being the king of Poland.
The dulcimer is my newly finished european walnut + reclaimed cedar + ebony hourglass model of my own design complete with floating bridge, inlaid chromatic fretboard and reversed GCgg tuning. It’s the same size as a regular DAdd dulcimer but with a shorter scale length due to the bridge being further up the instrument.
The recording was made using two C1000S microphones and the internal passive pickup, run through an AKAI EIE Pro.
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.