Hurdy Gurdy and Bagpipe Day

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Breaking with a long, some would say 'too long' tradition, the inimitable and redoubtable Dave Martin wasn't at The Shroppie Fly on November 12th 2011 for the Annual Audlem Bagpipe and Hurdy Gurdy Day, which meant that he didn't do one of his sardonic, satirical summaries of this annual event for the Audlem Web-site. 

But someone has to; at least that's what I've just been told by JH, the founder and chief promoter of the event — may his wheel turn for ever, his strings never stretch, his tangents never twist and his pegs never slip.  The addition of T Rex to the head of his Gurdy, if not to his repertoire, was the subject of some comment, not all of it uncomplimentary.

Nevertheless, dozens of musicians, and a number of Hurdy Gurdyists and Pipers, spent up to six hours puffing, scraping, plucking, banging, squeezing, grinding and strangling tunes from their various instruments, to the delight of many inquisitive, if generally startled, non-combatants.

The number of performers may have been down a little on previous years, but the quality and variety of both instruments and tunes were unsurpassed.

I counted eight Hurdy Gurdies, ranging from high-tech war-gurdies with built-in electronic tuners and finger-boards to allow chromatic slides on drone-strings — apparently essential if you're performing Gary Newman tunes — to the simple house-trained domestic variety, with Jurassic additions, playing mainly tunes from France, and some 'what Geoff or Neil wrote earlier'.

Also nine sets of Pipes, from the delicate Scottish Small , through the timid Northumbrian to the larger yet mellifluous Flemish, producing music of many different cultures, from Belgium to Bosnia, via England, Ireland, Scotland and most of the rest of Europe..

Welcome interlopers included:-
Twelve Wind instruments — Whistles, Recorders, Flutes and Crumhorns
Ten Plucked string instruments — Bouzouki, Cittern, English Guitar (Trevor built it himself),  Mandolin, Dulcimer and the inevitable Bulbul Tarang;
Seven squeezables — Accordion, Concertina and Melodeon
Six common or garden Fiddles and several things that needed to be hit regularly, including some percussion.

There was very little singing, except when Andrew gave a spirited rendition of L'inconnu de Limoise, in French, — it's about a dead bagpiper they dug up there — to which we listened attentively.  It was good to have him back.

The event broke up at about six o'clock.  Rory Scammell, who had travelled all the way from Leeds, collected up some of the uneaten sandwiches — for which we must thank Kate — to give him energy for a climb up Snowdon that he had planned for the following day.  As you'll see in the photograph, he succeeded, and played his Gurdy at the top.

Is this a first?  We believe so, but if you know better . . . .