1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. New singing goal: be able to sing all of Moondog 2, which just blew my mind

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

    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.

    00:00
    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
    hippies

    01:21
    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)

    03:10
    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
    in love
    in love
    in love
    oh happy happiness, happiness
    Darling the answer is love (source)

    05:43
    All is loneliness before me
    loneliness before me
    loneliness

    07:12
    My tiny butterfly butters my bread
    my briny flutterby keeps me well fed
    why should I mutter?

    08:26
    Why spend a dark night with you?
    what a fearful price to pay
    other nights nights would but be
    lonely dark ages for me

    09:37
    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)

    11:50
    Down is up and so up is down because the earth is round
    there is no such thing as up or down

    12:58
    Be a hobo and go with me
    from Hoboken to the sea

    14:08
    Remember, remember, remember, memeber
    to vote the way
    the way we say
    or else
    or else what
    I won’t

    16:03
    I love you
    for your lovely still small voice
    I will love your still small voice
    till my voice
    is still

    17:14
    Nero’s expedition up the Nile
    failed
    because the water hyacinth
    had blocked the river
    denying Nero’s vessels passage through
    the Sud of Nubia

    19:08
    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

    20:28
    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

    22:05
    This student of life
    has enrolled
    as that student for life
    his Alma Mater
    is all the world
    with father time as mentor

    23:31
    Some trust all
    some trust some, ho
    some trust one
    I trust none, ho
    not even myself

    25:01
    Wine, woman and song are too, too much for me
    I am contented with the latter two
    for
    woman and my song are simply
    wine enough you see

    27:25
    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

    28:48
    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

    30:53
    Each today is yesterday’s tomorrow which is now
    now is all I have
    now is all I need
    now is all I want
    now

    32:32
    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

    34:51
    You, the vandal
    plunder the village as you will
    the earthworm will pillage you
    the vandal
    when you are under

    37:01
    Trees against the sky
    fields of plenty
    rivers to the sea
    this
    and more
    spreads before me

    38:22
    Behold the willow bows before me
    but not the oak I’m uprooting
    remarked the wind

    39:51
    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

  6. Happy 2017! Here’s what Emilyn Stam (fb) and I got up to as the year changed:

    https://youtu.be/IgD1Juw6Yk0

    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)

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. Video: Erik and Anna from Dråm playing some of the Swedish dance tunes they taught in their workshop at Vaka in Akureyri: