If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably heard the term ‘hurdy gurdy’ with respect to music, but somehow I got the impression that it was a style of music rather than a musical instrument. I was mistaken. Popular in Europe during the Medieval period, the hurdy gurdy looks like a jacked-up neckless guitar, with 12 strings that are played by tapping keys which raise frets under the strings and turning a crank which turns a wheel. The wheel acts as a bow, producing distinctive, haunting tones. Because it can play bass, melody and rhythm all at once, the hurdy gurdy produces a rich, complex sound beautifully suited to traditional Medieval, Irish, and folk music. I got curious about how it could be used to produce more modern music, as well.
I went looking for modern hurdy gurdy musicians, and I happily stumbled upon German singer/songwriter Patty Gurdy. Her YouTube channel offers many informational and instructional videos about the instrument, alongside a few beautiful recordings of her playing and singing.