Tag Archives: quentin budworth hurdy gurdy


This is a tune I found on the Hurdy-gurdy after studying Scandinavian folk music with a number of teachers during my Arts Council funded DYCP (Develop Your Creative Practice) year. It was written in D harmonic minor and has an ABAB structure it is written to be played for dancing and in folk sessions. When I was studying the Scandinavian music, I found it to be quite melancholy and reflective in character so I wrote this tune as an up-tempo response to that.
It’s a Slängpolska a type of walking freeform dance in 3 time very popular in Sweden. It’s definitely a party tune, a smile in a sea of sadness. In a way it’s my two fingered salute to a year that is still trying to get its act together. I have a feeling that this tune will be popular with younger players, dancers and festival audiences when the time comes for playing it out.
The tune is inspired by the playing of leading Scandinavian Hurdy-Gurdy players Nicholas Koch Simms, Johannes Geworkian Hellman and Anders Norudde from the legendary Swedish Band Hedningarna.
I premiered the piece to an audience of 5000+ Hurdy-Gurdy players on the Hurdy-gurdy Community Facebook page. What larks!

Rioja for Ena

Here’s a tune I wrote for my mum it’s a waltz for Ena she’s in her 80’s and now lives in a care home in Huntingdon as she has complex medical needs. Her separation from my father was hard to witness after 50 years of marriage they were inseparable and love each other deeply. When my father could no longer look after her, he visited her every day until Lockdown in March.

In May my mother was diagnosed with Corona Virus and we got the call from the care home it doesn’t look like she’s going to make it she’s not talking and having trouble breathing. My brother called and asked what should do? We started talking about mum and I asked him what would she really like and he said Rioja later on that day armed with a bottle of Rioja my brother donned the full PPE required to enter the care home. My mother was asleep so he left the wine by the bed with her favourite chocolates for good measure.

We got a call from the care home the following evening she’s awake, her breathing is much easier she’s smiling and laughing and drinking the Rioja and enjoying the chocolates,

A testament to the miraculous restorative powers of Rioja and the fortitude of my mother.

‘Old Dog New Tricks’ Live at Upstairs at Monks

Quentin Upstairs at Monks

Quentin Budworth is a Hurdy-gurdy player and composer on a quest. For the last year he has travelled across Europe learning from master Hurdy-Gurdy players from different traditions.

Supported by an Arts Council Develop Your Creative Practice Grant his travels have taken him to France, Spain, Crete, Germany and Holland.

In this unique event Quentin will share tunes , stories and insights about what he has learned on his musical odyssey. Featuring music from across Europe and newly composed tunes Quentin will give a rare insight into the world of an itinerant Hurdy-Gurdy Man and composer.


Sam Pirt  (Musician The Hut People)

‘We had a wonderful inspiring evening last night, upstairs at the Monks Walk in Beverley, watching The Hurdy Gurdy Man ‘Old Dog New Tricks’ one man show.It was all about Quentin Budworth travels, stories and tunes he picked up along the way.The show is on again so keep an eye out for it.What a great evening it was and also what a wonderfully atmospheric venue it was too!A great night by a great musician with some great stories and tunes!’ #hurdygurdymaster

Gordon Meredith

‘What a wonderful evening spent in the company of the lovely Quentin Budworth and his Hurdy Gurdies as well as lots of good friends in the audience. Quentin treated us to lots of tunes from around Europe, each accompanied with its own anecdote of his many travels. Plus great pub and great beer. What a combination!’

Lou Loudhailer

‘Totally fab night, really enjoyed it!’

Mark Kelly Organiser upstairs at Monks

3 years ago we started putting completely unplugged, or acoustic nights on in the only remaining room upstairs in Monks Walk in Beverley, a room haunted by the ghost of a local blacksmith who many moons ago hung himself downstairs after falling on hard times, and a room with a 13th Century wall as a backdrop. It’s a unique, medieval, and intimate space, and Quentin Budworth’s ‘Old Dog New Tricks’ Hurdy Gurdy couldn’t be better suited to our little room.

A 90 minute journey through the differing hurdy gurdy techniques used to play this unusual instrument around the World. A confident raconteur, and a man who knows his Hurdy Gurdy, we were treated to French, German, and Scandinavian compositions as Quentin swapped from one Hurdy Gurdy to another.

Our room was filled with sounds like we’ve never heard before, and the audience were captivated, if a pin had dropped it would have disturbed us!

Afterwards Quentin opened up the room and took a Q&A session, covering the history of “the hardest instrument to play in the World”, explanations of where all the different sounds where coming from, different playing techniques, and at one point even dismantling one of his Gurdy’s to explain his point! ~ a charming fellow, and a mesmerising show, it would make a great Festival workshop, but for anyone who wants an introduction to this amazing instrument, Quentin’s night is a must’.

To book ‘Old Dog, New Tricks’ call Quentin on 07877434739



Halsway European Music Weekend

I attended an extended weekend course for musicians to develop ensemble playing skills and make imaginative arrangements that are exciting to listen or dance to. Using music from European folk/traditional/popular music traditions as the raw material to make new arrangements that can go in any direction. The aim was to explore and combine all sorts of influences and ideas to make spine tingling music that is more than the sum of the parts.

The course was fairly intensive and included all day ensemble workshop sessions with the aim of performing all the pieces created together at a public concert on the Sunday night. The course was led by musician/composer/arranger Paul James – saxophones, border bagpipes (Blowzabella, Evening Star), Belgian diatonic accordion virtuoso and composer/arranger Anne Niepold and we are delighted to welcome German harpist, composer and teacher Merit Zloch to the team for the first time this year.

The Team

Paul James is a saxophonist, bagpiper, singer and composer from Newbury who writes, arranges and performs music influenced by English and other European folk traditions. Paul was composer for the critically acclaimed production of John Milton’s ‘Comus – A Masque in Honour of Chastity’ at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and has composed music for TV, documentaries, theatre and contemporary dance, as well as the bands he plays in. He has been a member of the hugely influential folk band Blowzabella since 1980, and plays with his pan-European band Evening Star and the folk dance band The Playford Liberation Front.

Anne Niepold studied in the jazz department of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and attended many courses and masterclasses. As a performer she is a true force of nature – brash, adventurous and phenomenally skilled, she takes the humble accordion in startling directions. Beside her solo projects, she performs with numerous arts companies at home and abroad, and has numerous recordings to her name.

“(Anne) shows us the right way, that of intelligence, respect, emotion and heart. Run quickly listen to her and see her in concert!”
Richard Galliano, Accordionist

Merit Zloch is a harpist, composer and music teacher. She sees herself in the tradition of the itinerant harp players of the 19th and early 20th century, travelling with her harp throughout Europe charming people with her original compositions and arrangements of historical dance music.

She has played in bands almost as long as she has played the harp and is constantly fascinated by the interplay between musicians. She likes to arrange und develop pieces together with her band colleagues and to improvise.

Merit researches historical dance manuscripts and organises musicians meetings, bals and instrumental workshop weekends.


If you have any queries about the course, have a chat with course leader Paul James 0788 794 8853 pauljames.eu@gmail.com

Meeting up with Peter Kanssen in London

It was really great to meet up with Peter Kanssen yesterday and have a good play through some tunes and have a delicious Parsnip Soup lunch (not pictured). I also got the chance to have a go on Peter’s Neil Brook 3d Gurdy (storming!) and his amazing Sam Palmer midi gurdy both of which I have to say are lovely instruments. As a few people have been in touch about my thoughts on Sam’s midi gurdy I’ll write a post about it in the not to distant future.

One thing that came up during the meeting was the variable length crank as a learning tool …. to develop articulation of the coups – (buzzes) of the Hurdy-Gurdy trompette.



Well – what can I say Scandinavian music is unique and presents a challenge to the Hurdy-Gurdy however I was fortunate to receive some excellent tuition from fiddler John Francis Goodacre in the style and approach to playing the tunes. Having never played any Scandinavian folk music before I’m really glad that I joined the beginners class as there was really a lot to learn in terms of rhythm and ornamentation.


Scandimoot is held in Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales National Park annually on the May Bank holiday. It’s abeautiful place.

Researching Hurdy Gurdy Playing at Cecil Sharp House

Yesterday I went to the fabulous The Vaughan Williams Memorial Library (VWML) England’s national folk music and dance archive, an essential resource for anybody interested in the folk arts.

The English Folk Dance and Song Society (EFDSS) is the library’s custodian. The Library is housed at the Society’s HQ, Cecil Sharp House in London. Here’s the link https://www.cecilsharphouse.org/library-and-archive

Many thanks to librarians Laura Smyth and Martin Nail for their help.

Master Class with Elizabeth Pignol at the Stichting Draailier En Doedelzak weekend.

Hurdy-gurdy for (more)advanced players – Isabelle Pignol (Fr)

This workshop for more advanced players. This course will focus on the musical and technical aspects of hurdy gurdy playing, including dynamics, phrasing, ornamentation, and right and left-hand articulation (both with and without trompette). Isabelle’s interesting techniques will most surely give advanced players something to study this weekend! She writes us she likes to work this weekend on:
games and practices in the group to study on the posture and the position of the instrument, to improve the listening and the sound
– «loose handle strike», loose and half loose wrist strike, binary, ternary and assymetrical. Working method for 6 and 6-loose beat strikes
– Searching for the double intonation of the chien to improve the «swing».
– Effect of rhytmical and melodical styles: combinations, off beat, syncopation, appoggiatures, mordent, vibrato, portamento, détaché, pizzicato.
– How to be rhytmically free
– Working on harmony: arpeggio’s of chords
– Çreations: two-part writing, improvisation, composition.
– Examination of ‘sounds’
– Examination of style and interpretation
– Traditional and modern repetoire, individual pieces and polyfony

Listen to the music of Isabelle Pignol:
• Isabelle Pignol – cinquième saison
• Tri-Bal – Asie you want
• Tri-Bal – Rond d’eau douce
• Tri-Bal soundcloud pagina
• DEDALE – live in park Chateau St Chartier (1993)
• Ritmythes – Duo vielle – batterie (oude opname)
• Ritmythes – Vent de sable (oude opname)
• Tribal – documentaire

Here are some pictures from this wonderful event