What did they call them then?

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What did they call them then?

Postby Lizards » Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:46 pm

I was asked today in a school what gurdies were called in 1500's England.
I know that initially you had the organistrum, then the symphony, at least by the 1300's; then (much?) later, but I don't know when, they began calling them hurdy gurdies.
Mayhew in the 1850 reports a street player calling it her "cymbal", confusingly enough.

So a) when was it first called the hurdy gurdy? and
b) what was it called in the 1500's, please?
Any help most gratefully accepted.

Best wishes,
Richard.
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Geoff Turner » Fri Oct 15, 2010 8:04 am

Richard,

They certainly don't seem to have been called hurdy-gurdies until sometime in the 18th century. Suzanne Palmer's book states that a number of instruments were called "cymbals" in the medieval period, but I am not entirely sure whether the hurdy-gurdy was ever called anything else other than the symphony in English until the hurdy-gurdy name stuck, especially as this was around the time when a symphony came to mean something entirely different in the orchestral world.

Old Sarah was dredging up something she was told when she was quite small, and may have mis-remembered "cymbal" for symphony. She was certainly aware that hurdy-gurdy was not the original name.

The Spanish word "zanfona" is still used for the instrument today.

Hope that is helpful,
Geoff
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Lizards » Sat Oct 16, 2010 10:34 pm

Thanks, Geoff,
This certainly is helpful!

My selection from Mayhew sadly doesn't include Old Sarah, so I've only heard her quoted on the radio - I haven't heard of any other ref to "cymbal" and your explanation makes sense. (I'd love to know what tunes she was playing on it too.)

Incidentally, I'm told that in Poland they're called (phonetically - and apologies to any Polish speakers) either Katarina, or Katarinka for a small one, which I like. Maybe Catherine and wheel?

Please does anyone know of any written references to them in Tudor England?
Heretical question arises... were they even played in Tudor England? I know they were on the continent, and the symphony appears in the Luttrell Psalter in the 1300's but I'm ignorant of any mention of them here in the 1500's. I hope to be corrected!
Thanks again,
Richard.
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Geoff Turner » Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:01 am

Richard,

Old Sarah only mentions that it is called the hutrdy-gurdy once, and that is to say it is not its proper name. All other references are to her "cymbal". She mentions the following tunes:

God Save the Queen
Harlequin Hamlet
Moll Brook
The Turnpike Gate
Patrick's Day in the Morning
Thre New-Rigged Ship
The Gal I Left Behind Me
Oh Susannah
Hasten to the Wedding
Where Have You Been All Night

Some of these are easy to find, some more obscure.

She also mentions that at one house she regularly plays that "they likes polkas".

I know of no specific references to the hurdy-gurdy in Tudor England, but they were common enough in the eighteenth century to be given the 'hurdy-gurdy' epithet, and appear in such pictures as Hogarth's Bartholomew Fair. However, the fact that it is not at that time called the hurdy-gurdy may, and may have been called the 'symphony' or 'cymbal', or indeed something else, may go some way to explaining the gap in the record. It is of course possibe that they were not played here at that time, but if they followed the popularity of the rest of Europe, they may have been in the hands of street musicians at that point.

During the medieval period, images of them were carved in many churches throughout the country, and they were certainly played later, so it seems reasonable to assume that they also existed in the intervening period.

Of course, someone else may know of any specific references from the period.

If you want to read 'Old Sarah's account it can be found on Google Books
Search for 'Old Sarah gurdy' and follow the Mayhew link.

Hope that'd helpful and that someone will correct me if I am wrong in any of this.

Regards
Geoff
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Geoff Turner » Sun Oct 17, 2010 9:44 am

Richard,

Having written the last reply, I had a thought and consulted Susann Plamer's book.

She mentions an english book, "Pastyme of Pleasure" from c1506, where it is called a 'cymphan'. She also has a carving in Cirencester Parish church, where the player has an early tudor style cap.

I will see if I can find anything more.

Regards
Geoff
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Lizards » Sun Oct 17, 2010 8:44 pm

Fantastic! Thanks again, Geoff.
I'm such an old Luddite I hadn't realised that Mayhew was available on Google Books. In a way I almost wish you hadn't told me.. there's an awful lot of work stuff I really need to do tomorrow other than reading Mr H.M., and I already know it's addictive!

I haven't yet looked into the list of Old Sarah's tunes - I know some already - but with the library of tune books we have I am hopeful. I wonder if her present Majesty would like to hear the Nat Anthem played on Gurdy... trompette or not? :)

The Palmer ref to "Cymphan" is really useful too - almost the "symphony" word, then.
I looked on online 2nd hand book lists a while ago & this book was going for £100, so sadly I didn't buy one! This suggests that indeed the gurdy, or Cymphan was here all the time. As you say, it would be surprising if our lot didn't copy Europe in this, when they copied most other things from the continent.
If anyone has more to add it would be very good to read it, please.

Again, Geoff, my many thanks for filling a large gap in for me.
Best wishes,
Richard.
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Geoff Turner » Mon Oct 18, 2010 7:55 am

I have a copy of "Pastyme of Pleasure" on its way to me from Abebooks. I let you know what it contains....


Geoff
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Geoff Turner » Mon Oct 18, 2010 12:49 pm

And There's More.....

Dictionary of the Scots Language found at http://www.dsl.ac.uk

DSL - DOST Symphio(u)n, n. Also: sumphion. [Altered form of ME symphan (Manning), symfan (c1330), e.m.E. cymphan (1509), OF simphoine (OED), f. as SYMPHONY n.] = SYMPHONY n. a. --- Psaltery symphion & claroun ... Befor the barne all playit thai; Seven S. 2523. Symphioun; ROLLAND Seven S. 627. Jhonn Robertsoun, thesaurer, to by and delyuer to John Mowatt, blindman, ane symphioun to play vpoun; 1582 Edinb. B. Rec. IV 564. --- With instruments melodious, The seistar and the sumphion [etc.]; BUREL Queen's Entry 137.


Regards
Geoff
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Lizards » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:05 pm

Wondrous!
:)
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Re: What did they call them then?

Postby Euan » Thu Oct 21, 2010 12:14 pm

removed
Last edited by Euan on Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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