Tag Archives: Play the blues on the Hurdy-gurdy

I got the blues on the Hurdy-gurdy

Inspired by the Muddy-gurdy film and remembering a deep teenage of love of the blues I’ve been doing some online and action research into playing the blues and blues improvisation and started to work on how to make it work on the Hurdy-gurdy.

I’ve looked at guitar blues methodology here:



I’ve looked at violin methodology here:


The structure of the music the 8/12/16 bars would lend themselves to looping and then soloing over the top… Remember if the tune if the tune is in D solo and improvise in D likewise G and C.

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In D:
I = D IV=G V=A
I = G   IV= C V=DIN G:
In C
I = C   IV= F V=G

Blues Scales in Gurdy friendly keys:

The blues scale in D is: D F G Ab A C

The Blues Scale in G is: G Bb C Db D F

The Blues Scale in C is: C Eb F Gb G Bb


Major Pentatonic Scales in Gurdy friendly keys:

Pentatonic Major in D: D E F# A B

Pentatonic Major in G: G A B D E

Pentatonic Major in C: C D E G A


Minor Pentatonic Scales in Gurdy friendly keys:

Pentatonic Minor in D:  D F G A C

Pentatonic Major in G: G Bb C D F

Pentatonic Major in C: C Eb F G Bb










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.