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Tuning options

There are two "standard" tunings for hurdy-gurdy: G/C and D/G. The first note of the pair refers to the tuning of the chanter (melody) strings, the second refers to the scale played on the bottom row of keys.

In the G/C tuning, the chanters are both tuned in unison to g', giving a C scale on the bottom row. This is sometimes called "classical" tuning, because it is the tuning used in the Baroque era when court music was composed for the hurdy-gurdy. It is also popular in the Auvergne, a region in the center of France, and in Brittany. An octave tuning with a low g string is also available for G/C, but it sacrifices some of the "punch" of the chanters.

In the D/G tuning, the chanters are tuned in octaves, to d" and d'. This gives a G scale on the bottom row of keys. This is called "Bourbonnais" or "Berrichon" tuning, because of its prevalence in the Berry region in central France. It has a distinctive sound, more treble than the G/C tuning.

The tuning of the instrument can be changed at any time by changing the strings. Depending on the current price of strings and the stringing configuration, the cost of restringing may be as little as $15 or as much as $150 or more.


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Olympic Musical Instruments

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