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Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?

Mr Red 15 Oct 12 - 11:30 AM
Dave the Gnome 15 Oct 12 - 11:49 AM
Jack Campin 15 Oct 12 - 12:52 PM
SteveMansfield 15 Oct 12 - 01:21 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 16 Oct 12 - 04:31 AM
Mr Red 18 Oct 12 - 12:56 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 18 Oct 12 - 01:09 PM
Jack Campin 18 Oct 12 - 01:56 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Oct 12 - 02:12 PM
Mr Red 01 Nov 12 - 01:20 PM
GUEST 01 Nov 12 - 09:47 PM
Jack Campin 01 Nov 12 - 10:14 PM
ripov 01 Nov 12 - 10:38 PM
John P 02 Nov 12 - 09:35 AM
Jack Campin 02 Nov 12 - 10:52 AM
Mr Red 05 Nov 12 - 11:03 AM
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Subject: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: Mr Red
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 11:30 AM

At Towersey this year I trotted out the story of why there is often a lady's head carved at the headstock.

The one about George Sands liking the instrument so much when she returned to her estate that she bought them for the impoverished estate workers/players to keep the tradition alive. They in gratitude had her likeness carved on the instruments. eg this link

Now. The lass I chose (unwisely) to talk to was a (quote) historian and hurdy gurdiarist. Her comment was said with such swiftness and dismissal as to cause a certain uncertainty (as it were).

She said "She was a bourgeois ,why should she have anything to do with the peasants?" (amongst other things).

One thing I know about music and human preferences - anything is possible. And when vast amounts of unearned money is involved - even moreso.

So where does the story emanate from?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 11:49 AM

I think you are on safe ground Mr Red. Anyone who deals in such absolutes where human nature is concerned is invariably proved wrong. But what do us Gnomes know of human nature?

:D tG


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 12:52 PM

Googling "george sand vielle" suggests the legend may have something to it. A writer with socialist sympathies who wrote a historical novel about 18th century peasant bagpipers clearly doesn't fit the stereotype that "historian and hurdy gurdiarist" is promoting.

The links I've found involve reading more French than I can do in a few minutes. The critical writing accumulated around Les Maîtres sonneurs will probably have the answer.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 15 Oct 12 - 01:21 PM

Many years ago I went to a great performance at Sidmouth by Jean-Pierre Rasle and Lucy Skeaping, and one of the many nuggets of trivia they imparted that day was that in 18th Century France, the gurdy was so popular amongst the French middle classes that they even converted just every guitar they could find into a gurdy.

Now this was many years ago, but M Rasle and Ms Skeaping both know a thing or two about music history ...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 16 Oct 12 - 04:31 AM

A lot of top lutes were turned into hurdy-gurdies too. All part of the pastoral fashion that had Marie Antoinette & her pals posing about Rambouillet with milk pails made from the finest Sèvres porcelain...


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: Mr Red
Date: 18 Oct 12 - 12:56 PM

thanks for the info - keep it coming.

I have found a page about films with Hurdy Gurdies in them and there is a paragraph about a film based on her book Les Maitres Sonneurs

And FWIW I tried a few translations of the title and got "the ringers masters" & "the Mistress Blares" and I still am ignorant. Vielle comes in as Old (I take that to be Traditional in the context)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 18 Oct 12 - 01:09 PM

vielle is nf meaning hurdy-gurdy. vieille would be adjf for old.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Oct 12 - 01:56 PM

A bit more googling reveals this blog

http://regartsinfos.blogspot.co.uk/2011_06_01_archive.html

where the person responsible for that exhibition in Jenzat (on the history of the hurdy-gurdy as a cultural icon) looks like they'd have the requisite knowledge to answer this. (entry for 24/6/2011)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Oct 12 - 02:12 PM

Me Red's acquaintance might be a great hurdy gurdy player for all I know, but she's clearly a pretty ignorant historian in her assumptions about relations between the peasantry and the bourgeoisie.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: Mr Red
Date: 01 Nov 12 - 01:20 PM

I read the page in Google English - it seems that the French Folkies like the connection between Hurdy Gurdy and George Sands.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Nov 12 - 09:47 PM

Searching for Le Vielle returned a french Wikipaedia entry for -

"Vielle à roue - Ne doit pas être confondu avec Vièle."

Simple enough - it's a viol with a wheel. Not to be confused with an ordinary viol!

The V&A Musical Instrument Catalogue contains several references to viols with a carved woman's head e.g "The pegbox, with a carved
head of a woman with the hair tied in a bow in eighteenth-century manner, was originally a viol pegbox for six pegs, the holes for two of them now being plugged."


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Nov 12 - 10:14 PM

The construction of a hurdy-gurdy is pretty different to a viol - some HGs were made out of lutes, but none out of viols that I know of.

Vièle does not mean "viol" - it described many different kinds of fiddle.

A woman's head used on a viol implies nothing about a different design of woman's head on a much later and only vaguely related instrument.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: ripov
Date: 01 Nov 12 - 10:38 PM

Yes I agree that the lute, or the bowl back guitar, is closer in costruction to the hurdy.

Anyway, let's say then it's not to be confused with any type of fiddle, including the viol.

But my point was that fiddle scrolls were, and are, frequently carved in the likeness of human or animal, real or mythical. So a hurdy with a carved headstock would probably not be unusual. Whether the carving bears a resemblance to George Sands can easily be determined, there are pictures of her on the net.

But it's a nice story.

"Les Maitres sonneurs" would that be "The Master pipers"?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: John P
Date: 02 Nov 12 - 09:35 AM

Georges Sand lived in the 19th century. Here is a photo of a hurdy gurdy with a carved woman's head that was built in the 18th century.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Nov 12 - 10:52 AM

Looking around at pictures of French hurdy-gurdies, there seem to be a fair number of different heads depicted - which doesn't mean there couldn't be a tradition of using George Sand's for a lot of them.

In looking up pictures of Sand I came across this rather intriguing parallel:

George Sand and Fryderyk Chopin

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan

I wonder if by any chance they could be related?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Hurdy Gurdy-Lady's Head - myth or truth?
From: Mr Red
Date: 05 Nov 12 - 11:03 AM

Jack - LOL
Only in your mind's Private Eye (UK satirical mag that carried just such comparisons and probably still does)

John - that does make it a little less likely but not impossible.

Actually the "historian" was at the Bal de Bath yesterday - I didn't have the heart to point out any of the above - I was there to dance and I didn't stop.
Mazurka any one?


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