hurdy-gurdy

hurdy-gurdy

[hur-dee-gur-dee, -gur-]
hurdy-gurdy, musical instrument with three strings, caused to vibrate by a wooden wheel turned by a crank. Stopping was accomplished by keys that usually affected only one string that played the melody, the others acting as drones. Usually two players were required. First described in the 10th cent., it was widely used in the Middle Ages, and survived in the works of Vivaldi, Haydn, and Mozart.

Hurdy-gurdy played by a French lady of fashion, 18th century

Pear-shaped fiddle, the strings of which are sounded by the rim of a rosined wooden wheel turned by a handle. A row of keys is used to produce the melody by stopping one or two strings; the remaining strings sound a constant drone. A hurdy-gurdy-like instrument existed in Europe by the 12th century; it took its present shape in the 13th century. It has long been associated with street musicians, and it is still played as a folk instrument in Europe. The name is also often used for the barrel organ, in which a hand crank rotates a barrel inside the case, on which several tunes are encoded, causing a small pipe organ to play.

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