Tag Archives: quentin budworth


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.

Beginner friendly tunes for D/G Hurdy-Gurdy with Paul Sherwood and Quentin Budworth

During the Lockdown of 2020 Paul Sherwood and I have led classes for D/G hurdy-gurdy players via Zoom and had a lot of fun doing them. Some players described it as the thing that they looked forward to the most during the week. Here are the tunes for you to download and a link to the Youtube playlist Lockdown-tunes All

If you have any questions about the tunes you can contact quentinbudworth@yahoo.com

Old Dog New Tricks at Bridlington Contemporary Art Gallery

Friday 13th March 2020 Bridlington Contemporary Art Gallery

Rebecca Folds Gallery Programmer:

‘On Friday evening the gallery space at Bridlington Contemporary was packed with an expectant audience, eager to hear the renowned hurdy-gurdy player, Quentin Budworth. We had seen Quentin before at the Hull Folk Festival with the band Celtarabia. That was a massively amplified, foot-stomping, head-banging, stadium rock performance on an outdoor stage with a huge crowd of festival goers dancing their socks off.
It was a surprise and delight to see him in this more intimate setting, transformed from rock god into an entertaining and informative raconteur showing us the more subtle and thoughtful side of his musicianship.
With the help of an Arts Council Grant, Quentin had spent 2019 travelling through the UK and Europe visiting centres of musical excellence, meeting and playing with and learning from the best musicians, composers and instrument makers who form a quite remarkable international community.
Quentin’s account of his year of travel took us from this country to various festivals, gatherings and musical schools throughout Europe. We heard about the different traditions, styles, and approaches in different parts of the continent. It was good to know that these were being shared and adapted, keeping the tradition alive and of course Quentin was able to demonstrate all this on the two beautiful instruments he had with him. The were plenty of questions from the enthusiastic audience in the final part of the evening and I think everyone learnt a lot – from the history of the hurdy-gurdy since the 11th century to the response of contemporary composers to the instrument. And of course a whole load of cracking tunes – all in all a fantastic evening’.


‘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



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 German Diaz at the Spielkurs Mühlhausen

Course 5: Advanced hurdy gurdy g/c
Germán Díaz

The advanced course with Germán Díaz  focussed mainly on melodies and rhythms of the Iberian peninsula, which Germán can convey authentically firsthand: It is always about the transfer of what has been learned to one’s own music, ie the question of how the techniques can also be used in traditional European dance music. In addition to universally applicable techniques, Spanish melodies and a considerable portion of concentrated musicality, you will also receive rhythmic inputs for quaters, fives and six-shots.

Another part of the work will deal with approaches and techniques for modal improvisation on traditional music, which are universally applicable in the field of traditional music and demand in addition to your understanding of music and your technical skills.

Winter School at Gaunts House

I attended music workshops at the Gaunts House Winter School over 4 days with Benoit Roblin, Gilles Chabenat, Julien Barbances and Lyset i Forsen the groups were very small and this made the learning process very quick and in depth. I also learnt to dance Scottische, waltz and Mazurka (thank you Jean for your remarkable patience). The Winter School is a nine day event which brought  professional musicians, singers and dancers from all over Europe to provide a very rich and exciting program of dance and music workshops, concerts and bals. More info about the Emade organisation who put on the event can be found here http://www.emade.org.uk/winterschool.php the full programme is here programme winter school Gaunts House


I’ll provide details of the specific workshops and learnings in subsequent posts.

So far Hot GriseldaEelgrindersTondo (Gilles Chabenat, Maarten Decombel, Fred Pouget), Ciac BoumHRDLyset i forsentrio Roblin/Evain/BadeauNaragonia Benoit GuerbignyJulien BarbancesRémi GeffroyGabriel Lenoir have confirmed their coming.

Dance workshop teachers include : Leif & Margareta Virtanen (Swedish dances), Anne-Cécile Dubois (tango and more), Maria Guerbigny (Lindy hop), Mike &Heidi Gibbs (rueda), Gabriel Lenoir (Dances from Wallony) & more (polska, Poitou, Bretagne, French mazurka…

The Folk Ball events and concerts were fantastic seeing  top European Folk Musicians play in  a dance context was invaluable. Dancing to the tunes they played a profound and deep level physical understanding of the function and dynamics of the music – magic!




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…