HurdyGurdy - first steps

The Hurdy Gurdy is a rather inconvinient instrument to be emulated using a sampler played through a midi keyboard. It can be quite a pain to play traditional and historic styles and ornaments with a modern synthesizer and sampler just because these devices behave and respond so very differently from a traditional drone instrument.

The HurdyGurdy VSTi has been designed to closely recreate some of the instruments characteristics like the continously sounding drones and the buzzing trompette string. This way it will allow you to play ethnic, traditional and historic styles with ease and make them part of your own musical language.


This workshop will show you how the HurdyGurdy VST instrument is achieving this aim. To follow the introduction load a fresh instance of the HurdyGurdy VST instrument into your host program.

When playing the HurdyGurdy for the first time you will probably find that it reacts to the keyboard pretty much like any other synth. The tone is sounding as long as a midi key is pressed.
There are two noticeable differences though that have been introduced to recreate the authentic playing style of the original instrument.

  1. The Drones are not retriggered with every new keystroke. Instead they are sounding continously as long as a legato line is played.
  2. The synthesizer will sound as long as any of the keys within the playable range is held down. If You press another key while still holding the first key down and release it again the first note will be retriggered. You might already be familiar with this behaviour. HurdyGurdy shares it with a number of other monophonic synthesizers. 

Hanging Notes ?

Now play a short note. Upon releasing the key you will encounter a hanging note! This is by no means an error but another useful feature instead. It truely mimics the behaviour of the original instrument and by this it you will be able to play traditional ornaments and figures with ease.
The Hurdy Gurdy will sound continously as long as the wheel is turning. Even when all key are released the base note of the chanter strings sounds on. Activate the key hold button in the performance controls section of the panel to make the HurdyGurdy behave the same.
Alternatively You can use a selectable Midi controler to switch the instrument on and off (set to hold pedal as default)
Of course with continous playing activated you will need a switch to turn the instrument off again. For this you have two options that can be used alternatively or in combination:
  1. activate the key off button. The Instrument will now turn off when a key outside the playable range is played.
  2. Set the  Midi controler assigned to the hold function to zero. The sound will then stop after the last midi key has been released.  


Another important characteristic element of the Hurdy Gurdy is the trompette string. This drone sits on a special movable bridge. It can be made to rattle and buzz with accellerated turning of the wheel.
The HurdyGurdy uses the pitch wheel to control the wheel velocity.
Turn the pitch wheel up to make the trompette buzz heard.
Use the Tompette knob in the gain section to adjust the Trompette volume. The tr > amp and tr > bend knobs can be used to adjust the control amount that the wheel velocity has on the instrument volume and instrument pitch.

There is more

This short introduction can not describe all the features that the HurdyGurdy is offering. Please note that there is always help at hand. Click the help button on the plugin panel to bring up the comprehensive documentation that covers all aspects of the HurdyGurdy synthesizer.

© Andreas Sumerauer 2015  contact: