Tag Archives: developing your creative practice

Benoit Roblin Hurdy Gurdy Workshop at the Winter School

Benoît Roblin has grown to the sound of the hurdy-gurdy at Vierzon in Berry. Formed by Laurent Bitaud then Alexis Vacher, Benoît obtains his DEM in traditional music in 2008 then embarks on the professional adventure accompanied by his old green wheel designed by Jean-Paul Dinota.

Benoît Roblin has developed his own game, inspired by viellists of different styles, working on energy and groove. He has always put traditional music to dance in the heart of his instrumental practice, those of Berry mainly with Decibal, the big trio,  the  Hervé duo  and now in solo ball  , through Poitou with  Son de bouc,  the  Roblin duo. Pacher,  the  duo Jagueneau-Roblin and Tord Boyaux,  Brittany and Vendée in the  Roblin-Evain-Badeau Trio,  and Gascony with Nòu.

Projects full head and fingers, Benedict continues to create over the meetings, always looking for new experiences.

Benoit Roblin : hurdy-gurdy, feet, singing.



Two really useful videos on modes and tonal centres

Knowing how to create modes from the major scale is a really useful skill here’s how to do it.

If you think about the tonal centre of the Hurdy-Gurdy as the drone string then changing it’s pitch can open up lots of interesting possibilities…using the same melody…

Gilles Chabenat and a hunt for the Hurdy-gurdy Blues

I’m booked in at Halsway Manor The national Centre for Folk Arts and will be studying with French Hurdy-gurdy maestro Gilles Chabenat. We’ll be working on these tunes:
valse à louis
dix petits grains d’or
bourrée prieur
allemande variations

Which are all pretty traditional Gilles Workshop covers the following areas:

Gilles Chabenat is regarded as one of the very best hurdy-gurdy players of his generation. He began playing the hurdy-gurdy at 13 with Les Thiaulins, an association devoted to folk arts and traditions. Following private lessons with Georges Simon, he won several music awards and subsequently devoted himself to his region’s traditional repertoire with a desire to branch out into other musical styles.

In the wake of Valentin Clastrier, he thus felt the need to reinvent the instrument and the playing techniques associated with it. Around that time and after several years of research, luthier Denis Siorat developed a contemporary-style electro-acoustic instrument which facilitated the integration of the hurdy-gurdy into the modern musical experience.

In 1992, Gilles Chabenat began a twelve-year partnership with the Corsican group I Muvrini. During that period, he met and worked with a number of renowned artists: Véronique Sanson, Stephan Eicher, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Sting, as well as Frédéric Paris, Edouard Papazian, Alain Bonnin, and Gabriel Yacoub to name but a few. More recently, he has been collaborating with jazz musicians and also works regularly with Eric Montbel, Didier François, a Nyckelharpa player, Gabriel Yacoub and Patrick Bouffard.

Gilles’ musical experience and evolution are thus constantly shaped by the people he meets. In his approach to hurdy-gurdy playing, he draws essentially on the multifaceted nature of an instrument which has been in constant evolution for more than one thousand years.

Recently Gilles has been working with the Muddy Gurdy project

Andrey Vinogradov has also been exploring the playing of blues on the Hurdy-gurdy

So this started me to wonder how does one approach playing the blues on the Hurdy-gurdy what are the stylistic elements of the form and approaches to leadlines chordal structures etc.

Learning Languages

I’ve been studying Spanish using the Duo Lingo phone App since the summer and have now started to brush up on  my French and German.  I have a  daily routine and my hope is that I will be able to talk to people in their own language when studying the Hurdy-gurdy in France, Spain and Germany.


I do about 40 minutes a day on the app usually first thing in the morning it stops me listening to the news and keeps me in a good positive mood for playing.

The Hurdy-gurdy has a very precise language all of it’s own and it varies from country to country I’m asking people on the Facebook Hurdy-gurdy Community page to fill in this document to help Hurdy-gurdy players understand each other.

word art

Learning should be fun

I’ve been brushing up on my sight reading skills and found this food chart to help me with the rhythms it makes me chuckle every time I look at it. It’s is great fun to play using the buzzes on the Hurdy-gurdy and short melodic phrases that ape the sound of the words. It’s a quick and easy way to brush up on those sight reading skills in a hands on way.

Developing Your Creative Practice Award


I’m really happy to announce that the application to the Arts Council to develop my creative practice has been successful. I’ll be working on my Hurdy-gurdy playing and developing a new body of work. I’ll be working with some of the best Hurdy-gurdy players in the world to develop my skills, refine technique and musicality.

It will take my Hurdy-gurdy playing to a standard that enables me to tour as a soloist performing music that I have composed, laying solid foundations for the development of new solo and ensemble work in unusual and exciting contexts. I will grow a professional European touring and support network to help me achieve this.

I will be mentored by the recognised leading players from the global Hurdy-gurdy community over a year to develop: playing skills; contemporary performance technique; composition; exploration of traditional and contemporary repertory; the use of new technology; looping and effects; recording techniques; professional performance opportunities; a unique musical voice.

For each experience I will write and record at least one piece of music that reflects and internalises the learning gained. I will document techniques taught on film. I will share the story of my musical development as a soloist over the year on a website. I will perform short solo pieces at various gatherings during the process concluding with a solo show.

This will be a life-changing opportunity to develop and refine my solo practice so that I can learn from the best, compose new work and reach new audiences. When I first learnt to play the Hurdy-gurdy, 33 years ago, opportunities to meet with other players were very limited. Now there are more platforms to meet and study performance techniques and repertory with leading exponents of the instrument across Europe on a one to one basis and in group settings. The activity will take place over a year allowing me to digest, internalise and institute these new techniques and music. I will be building my international professional network by meeting and talking with players and promoters.

I will be raising my public profile as a player by sharing my experiences with an online audience through my website and social media. These activities will raise my status as a player and create opportunities for new performance and recording to take place. The process will allow me to develop the skills, knowledge, technique, confidence, flexibility and resilience to be able to work as a soloist in many musical contexts. To demonstrate learning and gain feedback I will present a solo show. I will record and showcase new compositions along the way online using my website, You-tube and Face Book and also at specially-selected events that feature new acoustic music, including festival appearances and concerts.

After the development phase is complete, I intend to record an album of my compositions for Hurdy-gurdy and tour it internationally.