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  1. #1

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    Back in my high school days, I had a History teacher that described this instrument that the (Medieval? Renaissance?) minstrels used to play. It was a percussion instrument, where you would crank a handle and get some kind of rhythm going. Kind of an organ grinder deal, but for percussion.

    This was back in the Cenozoic era, so no internet back then -- we didn't even get a picture of what the thing looked like, just the guy's description of how the minstrel would be cranking his handle and everybody would be grooving to Ye Olde Tyme Beates.

    Recently I was trying to figure out what instrument he might have been talking about, or even if such an instrument existed. However, when I look for percussion instruments where you turn a handle, the only one that shows up is the ratchet. Which is not what my old teacher was describing -- it doesn't make a rhythm, it just creates this "rrratch-rrratch" noise.

    So, did such an instrument ever exist? Or was my old teacher misinformed?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Hurdy Gurdy?

  4. #3

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    Hurdy-Gurdy is hardly a percussion.. but I guess the conception can be allied to drum patterns either


    I am quite deep into that topic, I played baroque and renaissance lutes for years and lately (about a year or two I am also in medieval music quite seriously, I play lute and early transverse flutes also).

    I cannot remember any instruments of the kind. (Real minstrels usually used plucked instruments, mostly citole or simple harp to accompany themselves, in general only singers were real musicians (musicus), plucked instruments were the most estimated among instruments - probably because of their ability to play a few sounds together, association with harmony and resonant nature of the instruments, I believe it comes from ancient Greece: famous competition between Appolo (with his lyre, created by Hermes) and Marsyas (with flute-auolos, created by Athena)...
    Later this high emblematic meaning was inherited by lute.
    All other instruments were considered low - especially drums and wind...

    I am in touch with Danil Ryabchikov, citole player, author of many articles and a book on medieval music, and a leader of Ensemble Labyrinthus, and managing Director of Musica Mesurata festival. Byt the way he leads very informative podcasts and videoblogs on nedieval music (but they are all in Russian).
    He is a real expert in the topic with both serious artistic and scientific background.

    I wil try to ask him
    Last edited by Jonah; 04-13-2021 at 07:18 AM.

  5. #4

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    Danil said he never heard of that and can hardly imagine such in instrument in early music periods... and me too... it is not really common for European tradition in general.

  6. #5

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    I would bet on the hurdy hurry as well.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Littlemark
    I would bet on the hurdy hurry as well.
    But none of the experts seem to know anything about it.
    And I never saw hurdy hurdy as a part of serious medieval music performance practice

  8. #7

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    Here's a video where the OP can see the instrument being played

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Here's a video where the OP can see the instrument being played
    I believe we have a winner!

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Here's a video where the OP can see the instrument being played
    But it is hurdy gurdy... it's not percussive...

    Or I misunderstood the question?

  11. #10
    Thanks everybody! But the instrument described was not the hurdy gurdy -- it was a percussion instrument. Now that I think about it, the way my old teacher described how it was performed reminds me of the typical internet drummer jokes. Uncultured oaf of an itinerant musician, just cranking the handle and making a racket.

    I guess my old teacher was misinformed / making it up.

  12. #11

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  13. #12

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    Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
    I opened my eyes to take a peek
    To find that I was by the sea
    Gazing with tranquility
    'Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
    Came singing songs of love
    Then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
    Came singing songs of love



    Interestingly there is some dispute whether Jimmy Page or Allen Holdsworth or both played on this song. John Paul Jones did, but it’s also unclear if John Bonham played on it. Some suggest that this session was the genesis for the formation of Led Zeppelin.

  14. #13

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    Alan holdsworth denied it. Many times. And I don’t think he’d forget. Unlike page say who did thousands of sessions Allan was young and would have remembered being on a Donovan session.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Howzabopping
    Thanks everybody! But the instrument described was not the hurdy gurdy -- it was a percussion instrument. Now that I think about it, the way my old teacher described how it was performed reminds me of the typical internet drummer jokes. Uncultured oaf of an itinerant musician, just cranking the handle and making a racket.

    I guess my old teacher was misinformed / making it up.
    Well I for one think it should exist. So it’s history’s failing here if it doesn’t.

  16. #15

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    Here’s a rommelpot in action.


  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Here’s a rommelpot in action.

    In my most favourite place in the world))

  18. #17

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    The sound of a rommelpot in Venice - what could be more romantic?

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    The sound of a rommelpot in Venice - what could be more romantic?
    and authentic

  20. #19

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    Actually I can easily imagine some kind of cylindric drum with with a handle to rotate and make some purcassive sound.. but I cannot seem to find anything.

    It can be a bit similar to Russian folk 'treshotka' - but it works the opposite way.



  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    Actually I can easily imagine some kind of cylindric drum with with a handle to rotate and make some purcassive sound.. but I cannot seem to find anything.

    It can be a bit similar to Russian folk 'treshotka' - but it works the opposite way.


    As children, here in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains, we had toys ("noise-makers") that sounded exactly the same. The noise-making part was housed in cheap sheet metal, fancifully painted. The were especially popular on New Year's Eve.
    Last edited by citizenk74; 04-17-2021 at 12:04 PM.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by citizenk74
    As children, here in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, we had toys ("noise-makers") that sounded exactly the same. The noise-making part was housed in cheap sheet metal, fancifully painted. The were especially popular on New Year's Eve.
    'Treshotka' literally means 'rattle-maker'... and in countryside it was also traditionally used in so-called 'kolady' , traditional folk festivities during Chistmas' eve.

  23. #22

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    Listen from 2:50... this sounds like a percussion instrument that is being cranked to make the noises. You can hear it slow down at the end.

    WARNING: Some of the tunes on this album are psychoactive


  24. #23

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    You don’t often hear the words ‘Baden Powell’ and ‘rommelpot’ in the same sentence, but that’s basically what’s going on here (admittedly it’s the Brazilian equivalent, the cuica):


  25. #24

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    I like many things Italian and Brazilian. The Brazilians win this one. By Miles and miles.

  26. #25
    Maybe my old teacher was referring to the rommelpot, who knows! Indeed it sounds like an ancestor of the Brazilian cuica -- another fascinating instrument.


  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    I call that a football rattle, had to make one in woodwork at school...

    The best friction drum I ever heard was in a little two room museum in Ghana mainly dedicated to Kente & Adinkra cloth, i wandered away from the looms into a store room, backed out & was motioned back in by the attendant I'd woken up.

    He produced a small hand drum, noted my lack of interest (it was dusty & unimpressive looking), waited until I turned my back & laughed as I ran into the wall when he played it...

    Having spent a sleepless night listening to a leopard circling camp once it's not a sound I'll forget...

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by dot75 View Post
    I call that a football rattle, had to make one in woodwork at school...
    they were used in hunting too I think

    I guess in folk cultures those rattles are often associated with banishing evil spirits.. you make noise to banish them (in China they burn bamboo to produce rattle for that purpose)
    I also think that using it in Christmas' Eve is an assimiliation of pagan tradition to Christian rituals.
    The same as traditional Russian 'masslenitsa' (spting pan-cake festivities) is totally pagan feast that in Christian period became the last week before beginnin a Great 40 days Easter fast

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by dot75 View Post
    I call that a football rattle, had to make one in woodwork at school...
    As a kid I had a massive old Air Raid Warden rattle that was used in WW2 to alert citizens to incoming gas attacks. It was totally deafening. When I used it at football matches the crowd around me would stand back in fear for their ears. Others hid their regular football rattles in deference.

    A question for the Early Music experts in the house-1_299-jpg

  30. #29

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    In the percussion world these rattles are known a ratchets. It's an orchestral instrument!

  31. #30

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    Some kind of a bit similar orchestral percussion (and a few others too) used in the slow section

    From 06:15 till 08:40



  32. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by Howzabopping View Post
    Maybe my old teacher was referring to the rommelpot, who knows! Indeed it sounds like an ancestor of the Brazilian cuica -- another fascinating instrument.

    I believe this called a talking drum sometime.

  33. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by Howzabopping View Post
    Maybe my old teacher was referring to the rommelpot, who knows! Indeed it sounds like an ancestor of the Brazilian cuica -- another fascinating instrument.

    I believe this called a talking drum sometime.