Mayhew, Old Sarah, and the "cymbal"again: gurdy?

Hello, welcome to the Hurdy-gurdy Forum. We are an online group for hurdy-gurdy players and enthusiasts. Hopefully you will make some great gurdy friends here, chat about tunes, events, workshops and strings and fluff. Swap information and stories and so on, and learn more about the best instrument ever!

Due to the large amount of spam registration attempts we have disabled registration. In order to join the group send an email to gurdyfest"at"yahoo.co.uk (replace "at" with @) and tell us your choice of username and why you want to join the bulletin board.

Mayhew, Old Sarah, and the "cymbal"again: gurdy?

Postby Lizards » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:56 pm

Hi.
This comes off the "What did they call them then" thread, but it's now a different question.
Henry Mayhew in the 1850's interviewed her, described her as a hurdy gurdy player, but she called it the "cymbal".

Geoff very kindly provided the list of tunes given as Old Sarah's repertoire .

Chasing this is going well - "Moll Brook" turns out to be "Marlborough" aka "For he's a jolly good Fellow"! - but more than one has pointed out that "cymbal" sounds much more like "cimbalom" (spell it how you will) even than "cymphan" or "Symphony", and apparently "hurdy gurdy" according to one scholarly emailer was a name applied to all sorts of street instruments at the time.
So what really was it?

Sarah says she had to spend some time learning tunes on it, so it obviously wasn't a barrel organ.
She also says she had to keep it covered or pennies could get in the works, which pushes it more towards being a gurdy as we know it.
On the other hand the parish paid, around the year 1800, for her to learn it so she could get out of the workhouse. I wonder if they'd have forked out the price of a gurdy, presumably more than a dulcimer, for such a pauper.
Then again she apparently wore out three in the course of 20 years of playing.

So if anyone has any further interpretations or views on whether the dear lady was playing a gurdy under the meaning of the Act now, or something else, and if so what, I'll be delighted to read more.
With thanks for your patience :)
Richard.
User avatar
Lizards
 
Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:19 pm

Re: Mayhew, Old Sarah, and the "cymbal"again: gurdy?

Postby Lizards » Sun Oct 31, 2010 10:11 pm

OK, I'm answering my own question. Sorry!
Another forum, nowt to do with gurdies, has fired straight back at me with this picture source, which seems to clinch it.http://dl.tufts.edu/view_image.jsp?pid=tufts:MS004.002.054.DO01.00011
Not 100% conclusive, it's possibly but not certainly from life, but it's pretty bloomin' much definitely a gurdy.
Thanks for looking!
Richard.
User avatar
Lizards
 
Posts: 54
Joined: Mon Aug 09, 2010 7:19 pm

Re: Mayhew, Old Sarah, and the "cymbal"again: gurdy?

Postby Geoff Turner » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:41 pm

Richard,

This engraving was taken from a Daguerrotype by a chap named Beard. I have no idea whether this daguerrotype still exists or where it may be, but it is an early form of photograph, so in that sense it is taken from life.

For those who have not seen it, I attach it here.

Regards
Geoff
old sarah.JPG
old sarah.JPG (127.02 KiB) Viewed 1179 times
User avatar
Geoff Turner
 
Posts: 92
Joined: Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:39 pm


Return to Main Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron