The Hurdy-Gurdy in Eighteenth-Century France, Second Edition
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The hurdy-gurdy, or vielle, has been part of European musical life since the eleventh century. In eighteenth-century France, improvements in its sound and appearance led to its use in chamber ensembles. This new and expanded edition of The Hurdy-Gurdy in Eighteenth-Century France offers the definitive introduction to the classic stringed instrument. Robert A. Green discusses the techniques of playing the hurdy-gurdy and the interpretation of its music, based on existing methods and on his own experience as a performer. The list of extant music includes new pieces discovered within the last decade and provides new historical context for the instrument and its role in eighteenth-century French culture.

Introduction to the Second Edition
Preface to the Original Edition
1. Historical Background
2. The Music
3. Musical Interpretation and Performance
4. The Repertory
5. The Vielle in the Literature of Seventeenth- and Eigteenth-Century France
Appendix: Translation of the Avertissements in Works by Jean-Baptiste Dupuits



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Date de parution 31 octobre 2016
Nombre de lectures 3
EAN13 9780253025135
Langue English

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2016 by Robert A. Green
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No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. The Association of American University Presses Resolution on Permissions constitutes the only exception to this prohibition.
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Manufactured in the United States of America
Cataloging information is available from the Library of Congress .
Names: Green, Robert A., [date] author.
Title: The hurdy-gurdy in eighteenth-century France / Robert A. Green.
Other titles: Publications of the Early Music Institute.
Description: Second edition. | Bloomington ; Indianapolis : Indiana University Press, 2017. | Series:
Publications of the Early Music Institute Identifiers: LCCN 2016047238 (print) | LCCN 2016047997 (ebook) | ISBN 9780253024954 (pb : alk. paper) | ISBN 9780253025135 (ebook)
Subjects: LCSH : Hurdy-gurd. | Music-France-18th century-History and criticism. | Dupuits des Bricettes, Jean-Baptiste.
Classification: LCC ML 1086 . G 73 2017 (print) | LCC ML 1086 (ebook) | DDC 787.6/9094409033-dc23
LC record available at
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For Lee
Preface to the First Edition
Acknowledgments for the Second Edition
Introduction to the Second Edition
1 Historical Background
2 The Music
3 Musical Interpretation and Performance Practice
4 The Repertory
5 The Vielle in the Literature of Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century France
Appendix: Avertissements in the Works of Jean-Baptiste Dupuits
T HE HURDY-GURDY has been in continuous use in Western Europe for a thousand years; few other instruments can make that claim. In the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries it was found in the most musically cultivated circles; in the fourteenth through the seventeenth centuries, it was played by the lowest classes. Today, it is a popular folk instrument in France, much like the banjo in American music.
The story of the hurdy-gurdy, or, as it is known in France, the vielle, is so interesting that much has been written about its use in different periods. In such surveys, the cultivation of the vielle in eighteenth-century France represents only a chapter, but so many beautiful instruments and so much information, relatively speaking, survives from this period that it has received more attention than any other. Nevertheless, there are many areas left to explore, and surprisingly, the music composed for the vielle and its performance is one of these.
Previous explorations of the vielle during the eighteenth century have revealed a certain blindness on the part of most authors. They have focused on its cultivation by lady amateurs at the highest level of society, most notably members of the French royal family, leaving the impression that fashion rather than musical considerations was largely responsible for the popularity of the instrument. In addition, most authors have not been players of the instrument and have failed to grasp the distinctive features of the repertory. I believe that these two considerations are largely responsible for a lack of interest in the vielle among those concerned with eighteenth-century music and its performance on period instruments. The purpose of this book is to place the instrument squarely within of the purview of the latter group.
This book is written with two types of audience in mind: those interested in eighteenth-century music and what the vielle and its music can reveal about the sound world of the period, and those who play the instrument and are familiar with the fundamentals of technique but wish to explore the interpretive possibilities. This book is not a method. Elements of technique are discussed only insofar as they are necessary for the general reader to understand musical and performance practice considerations.
In order to fully understand what is said here, it is important that the reader understand my biases. I became aware of the vielle and its music through my musicological research into the instrumental music of the early eighteenth century. I found so many interesting works that I wanted to play them and find out how they sounded on the instrument for which they were written. Eventually I was able to acquire a good instrument and learned to play it by reading the eighteenth-century methods discussed in detail here. There was much left unexplained, however, and I went to France to learn more about the technique from the players of folk music who have studied the instrument as part of a living tradition. I soon encountered several who were interested in the eighteenth-century repertory, but who approached their examination of this literature and study of the treatises from their background as folk musicians. While many of these players have a thorough grounding in technique based on their involvement with folk music, it is difficult for them to discard elements of their playing which they have found to be expressive but which are inappropriate, or used in a different way, in the performance of the eighteenth-century literature. I differ from them in that I have approached this music from my background as a scholar and one who is generally familiar with what was composed for other instruments in the period. Thus, the issue in learning to play and interpret the music then becomes what to retain from the living tradition as musically valid and what to discard as inappropriate.
No player fully agrees here, and, therefore, widely differing approaches may be heard in performances of this music. The same must be said of any other instrument, however, but with more and more performances of the music for the vielle, a range of musically viable possibilities will emerge.
I must mention here Claude Tailhades, who served first as a mentor in my learning to play the instrument and then as a collaborator in an exploration of the duo literature, a literature we had hoped to record. Claude, one of the finest players in France, turned his attention from folk music to the eighteenth century about ten years ago. Of all the players in France he, in my opinion, most successfully combined his knowledge of the technique derived from the living tradition with what he learned from the treatises. Although we differed on minor points, our views on the major ones were alike. Much of what is said in chapter 3 resulted from our continuing dialogue on issues of performance practice. Although Claude s death on January 12, 1995, brought an end to our collaboration, I can only hope that this book will serve in some way as a memorial to his contribution.
If my attitudes have been influenced by my experiences as a player, they have also been influenced by the instruments themselves. The outstanding reproductions of eighteenth-century vielles by Thomas Norwood of Paris and an eighteenth-century instrument from about 1740 built by Fran ois Feury and restored by Norwood have strongly influenced the formation of a sound ideal. The hurdy-gurdy is a complex mechanism which requires considerable adjustment. These adjustments can change the sound considerably, and, therefore, one must know what sound one wants. The paradox is that one does not know what sound one wants until one has heard it. It was only after considerable experimentation that I arrived at the sound I wanted and which best served the music, and I have tried to communicate this ideal as well as words can describe it. When I first began to play the instrument, I thought of it as a diversion. The sound was so intensely satisfying, however, that I could not put the instrument down. Over the years I have encountered many players of various abilities, all united by their love of the sound of the instrument. It is therefore difficult for me to believe that eighteenth-century players did not on some level share that attraction whether or not the instrument was fashionable. After giving lecture recitals and concerts at universities and as part of various early music series, I made a recording, French Music for Hurdy-Gurdy (FOCUS 932) which realizes many of the ideas on interpretation presented in this book. In addition, it recreates the sound world of eighteenth-century France as it relates to the vielle by including a spectrum of music from the unaccompanied arrangement of music for other instruments to chamber music in the latest style.
In introducing the reader to the eighteenth-century literature for the hurdy-gurdy, I have not hesitated to express my critical judgment regarding the relative merits of various works in order to separate the interesting from the mundane. Although value judgments of this kind must include an element of subjectivity based on the satisfaction derived from playing the music, two questions truly provided the basis for these remarks: Does this music use the instrument to its full capabilities? Does the composer create harmonic variety within the limitations imposed by the drones? Rhythmic variety and contrapuntal interest were also taken into account.
Finally, this book is not the last word on the vielle and its music in eighteenth-century France. A thorough study of the popular airs and dances played as pastime music by the large majority of eighteenth-century players, now being undertaken by Fran oise Bois-Poteur, will add significantly to our knowledge of the literature. No complete catalogue of instruments surviving from the eighteenth century with their measurements and descriptions now exists and, until such a project is completed, it will be difficult to discuss the contributions of various makers and their distinctive characteristics. A thorough search of the memoirs of various members of the court and society in the early eighteenth century, as well as legal documents housed in national and regional archives, may reveal more about the composers and teachers, the amateurs who played the instrument, and the few virtuosi who made a career performing on the instrument.
No project of this kind is undertaken in a vacuum. I want to thank Northern Illinois University for providing me with summer grants and a sabbatical to complete this book. My thanks to Rick Hirsch for his speedy and accurate preparation of the musical examples and to Peter Middleton for the loan of his equipment for the preparation of camera-ready copy. Thanks also to Dr. Warren R. Jones of Loyola University of Chicago for a careful, thoughtful reading of the manuscript. I also want to express my appreciation to the editor Nathalie Wrubel for her many suggestions and her support and encouragement. I want to express my special gratitude to Lee Chapman, who as an intelligent listener provided a sounding board for many ideas and read successive drafts, providing much useful and constructive criticism. This effort is immeasurably the better for his advice.
I WOULD LIKE to thank the following colleagues who generously shared their expertise and knowledge with me. Jean-Christophe Maillard (d. July 2015) and Paul Fustier (d. March 2016) unhesitatingly sent me their new discoveries and documents. I am grateful for the hospitality of Jean-Christophe and his family on my visits to Toulouse. Curtis Berak has provided many insights into the instrument itself through his study of the hurdy-gurdies in his magnificent collection.
Finally this new expanded edition would not have occurred without the work of Dr. Guy Tell. His knowledge and his enthusiasm for the vielle-the instruments themselves, their construction, and the music-have been an inspiration to pursue an expansion of this book. His study of children s instruments has been particularly useful.
The hurdy-gurdy is distinguished by two features: a rosin-covered wheel that rubs against the strings producing a continuous sound, and tangents that touch the melody strings at predetermined points to change the pitch. Most hurdy-gurdies have one or more drone strings playing an octave and/or fifth below the open, or unstopped, melody strings. The wheel is turned by a crank operated by the right hand, while the left hand depresses keys with the tangents mounted on them. 1 The keys are enclosed in a slotted key box with a cover that protects the mechanism and provides some support for the left hand. The range of the instrument-the number of keys-has over the centuries expanded from an octave in the earliest medieval instruments to more than two octaves in some modern ones. Over the thousand years of its history, the hurdy-gurdy has taken many forms, but these basic features have remained constant.
By the seventeenth century, and possibly earlier, a buzzing bridge, which was controlled by accelerating the wheel, was added to the instrument. The distinctive sound could be used variously to provide a percussive accompaniment or a form of articulation particularly useful in music with a sharply rhythmic profile, such as dances or Italian-style allegro. The specific features of the French hurdy-gurdy, or vielle, will be explored in chapter 3 .
Since this book was completed in 1995, much research by myself and others has provided new insights into the vielle and its music in eighteenth-century France. The collection of essays titled Vielle roue: Territoires illimit s (1996) contains work by Jean-Christophe Maillard and Florence G treau, among others, that has proved useful in this expansion of knowledge. The catalogue of the exhibit of vielles and related materials that took place in Brou, southwestern France, in the summer of 2008 contains valuable essays, some of which function as sequels to those published in the 1996 collection.
Laure-Elizabeth Andr s thesis on Jean-Baptiste Dupuits (1996), directed by Jean-Christophe Maillard, is a valuable resource for information on the life of Dupuits and the web of patronage surrounding the composition and publication of his works for the vielle. It also establishes his activities within the milieu of Parisian daily life. This research was greatly aided by Andr s discovery of the marriage certificate and the inventory after death of the composer. I can only briefly summarize and comment on some of her conclusions. I am indebted to Jean-Christophe Maillard for providing me with a copy of this work.
Paul Fustier s dissertation, published as La Vielle roue dans la musique baroque fran aise (2006), provides a wealth of new discoveries and information. Drawing on his background as a psychoanalyst, Fustier takes a unique approach to the social aspects of the instrument s popularity based on his analysis of the pastoral or Arcadian myth.
During the last ten years a number of new collections of eighteenth-century music for vielle have surfaced that have enabled me to expand the repertory list in chapter 4 and the discussion of the repertory in chapter 2 . I am indebted to Paul Fustier and Jean-Christophe Maillard for providing me with some of these collections. Some of the notable finds include Joseph Bodin de Boismortier s Sonatas, op. 77, and a manuscript in the Duckles Collection of the Jean Gray Hargrove Music Library at the University of California, Berkeley. Other manuscripts have surfaced in France, and, although they add little to the repertory, they provide a window into the musical life of the period. Jean-Fran ois Bo in was a prolific composer of dance tunes, and the publications containing these are listed here for the first time. A book of duos by Claude Cordelet is in a private collection and not available at present, but perhaps in the future examining this book will allow us to reevaluate the unfavorable opinion Fran ois-Joseph F tis formed of this composer. Bound with Cordelet s work is a set of extracts from the operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau arranged as duos that are unavailable elsewhere. In addition, I have expanded the list of lost works in large part based on Anik Devri s-Lesure s latest work L dition musicale dans la presse parisienne au XVIIIe si cle: Catalogue des annonces (2005). These include, for example, a lost book of sonatas by Bo in and an oeuvre by Ravet.
The most substantial addition is chapter 5 , which discusses the vielle in the literature of eighteenth-century France. In this new chapter, I seek to demonstrate that references to the vielle in the poetry and novels of this period are unique in the history of the vielle for their use of the instrument as a vehicle of satire and attacks on perceived truth.
During its thousand years of existence, the vielle has experienced wide swings in its social status and desirability. Today a popular folk instrument used in rock music and jazz, it began as an instrument associated with the church, a tool for the education of scholars, as a bowed manichordium. Later it played a role as an instrument associated with troubadours and was used by traveling musicians in their performances before members of medieval nobility.

Figure I.1. Sixteenth-century woodcut. The hurdy-gurdy can be seen under the blind man s coat.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century the vielle was an instrument associated with blind beggars and as such was considered the lowest of instruments. Since the social status of an individual was an indication of his moral character, poor, blind beggars were viewed with particular circumspection. Physical blindness served metaphorically to depict moral blindness. Figure I.1 shows a blind vielleur being led through life by a sighted person who helps him avoid pitfalls on either side. The dog is traditionally the faithful companion of the vielleur. In the words of Jean-Christophe Maillard, the vielle has at times been regarded as the Other, an invitation to sin, the antithesis of beautiful artistic expression, and even the negation of life itself, with its presence in images of death. 2
The way the instrument was played contributed to its reputation. In his Dictionnaire universel of 1690, Antoine Fureti re says, That which perhaps contributed further to making the vielle purely popular was the great perception that these blind people and poor people played this instrument very badly. 3 The essayist Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac (1597-1654) suggests that those who played the vielle were those not competent enough to play the violin in a period when the violin was primarily a street instrument. 4
During the later seventeenth century, the vielle began to take on a degree of respectability. Its appearance in Jean-Baptiste Lully s operas (discussed in chapter 1 ) may have contributed to its rehabilitation. A musical source that bears witness to a growing interest in the vielle among the aristocracy in the late seventeenth century is Sainte-Colombe s piece La Vielle for solo viol, and it perfectly imitates the sound of the instrument. This piece is found in the Tournus manuscript, which is dated about 1690. 5 It has been interpreted as both rustic and refined by the performers who have recorded it, but the fact that it was composed for an instrument and a repertory regarded as refined suggests that the vielle had begun to move up the social scale. 6
During the period ca. 1720-1760, the vielle became established as a popular instrument in the hands of upper-class amateurs. In part this interest was encouraged by the vogue for the pastoral, which manifested itself in social gatherings and dances in outdoor settings with a certain amount of appropriate costuming. The pastoral, or as Paul Fustier has styled it, the Arcadian myth, takes its cue from an imaginary world of shepherds and shepherdesses who engage in amorous pursuits and other social activities while having little to do but watch their sheep. These activities are expressed in visual art by the works of Jean-Antoine Watteau and others of his generation. The association of the vielle with the pastoral has led to charges of frivolity in its unreality (real shepherds are not like that). 7 Paul Fustier, however, points out that play-acting of this type is an ever-present feature of cultures around the world in all periods. Whether dressed as a pirate or a princess, or clad in period clothing to perform early music, costumed characters are never for an instant believed to be who they pretend to be. 8
There are more substantive reasons for the popularity of the vielle in this period. The ascendance of the musette, a small bagpipe, among mostly male amateur musicians encouraged the development of a comparable instrument that would be more suitable and accessible to women. There is certainly a faddish element in the female pursuit of this instrument. A characterization of the vielle as representing the worst side of fashion is found in Le Guerrier philosophe (1744) by novelist Jean-Baptiste Jourdan (1711-1793). Jourdan s character is an adventurer in uniform, spending the summers campaigning in Italy and winters in amorous pursuits. Upon his return to Paris he is introduced to a new type of woman, the petit ma tresse, the slave of fashion and the female equivalent of the petit ma tre. After satirically describing their clothes and coiffures, Jourdan s friend, an Italian nobleman, continues:
[She] is found at all the parties, does not miss a restaged opera, a new play, a day of excitement. She must stay in bed for the slightest imposition, constantly complain about her color, of the lack of vivacity in her eyes, the negligence of her adornment, have the vapors on command, (Oh! An essential article) speak Italian, play the vielle, drink champagne: finally laugh, sing, never be on time, and go to bed at 4 AM . 9
This description places the vielle in the context of a shallow lifestyle that many associated with the instrument. However, the vielle and musette have been singled out for condemnation on this basis with the conclusion that these instruments were not taken seriously and therefore had little social relevance or, by extension, musical importance. 10 This attitude was held in the eighteenth century as well and was debated from various positions. Certainly the instrument was the subject of controversy. 11 But against this negative view of women who played the vielle, we must consider the many women who displayed the instrument as a part of their formal portraits. 12 A portrait dated 1728 of a female vielle player by the prominent artist Alexis Grimou (1678-1733) appears to be the earliest of this genre. 13 The vielle player is beautifully dressed and posed with the instrument at the center of the composition. The hands are positioned to suggest a flawless technique. While the vielle depicted in the painting is a trapezoidal instrument similar to those common in the seventeenth century, many of the portraits that followed depict beautifully decorated vielles that enhance the sumptuous costumes of the players. Some fifteen to twenty portraits of this type have been located, and their evident purpose is to highlight the beauty and accomplishments of the subject.
From the sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries the vielle maintained a strong association with the activities of children of all classes. 14 In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries children served as guides for blind beggars, often accompanying them on the musical triangle. 15 In eighteenth-century Europe children could be seen playing in the streets, accompanied by a marmot in a box, in order to attract the attention and generosity of strangers. They were sometimes used as chimney sweeps, because their small bodies could squeeze into tight spaces, and were used to run errands and serve as messengers. 16 These street children were occasionally called Savoyards, even though they were often not from that region. 17 Savoy was a very poor, remote area, suffering from wars and other depredations, and many families who could not provide for their children sent them out to survive as best they could, perhaps after teaching them the rudiments of playing the vielle and some tunes. The departure of these children from their homes, often forever, became an artistic genre in itself. These Savoyards were often depicted in operas and plays.
The romanticized view of these children was built around two contrasting ideas. The first centered around their poverty and their ability to survive on their wits. The second emphasized their carefree nature, which derived from their freedom to go wherever they wished, unencumbered by material possessions. This view is reflected in Goethe s play Jahrmarktsfest zu Plundersweilern (1773), a comedy exploiting typical small-town characters. Among them is a traveling Savoyard hurdy-gurdy player. He sings:
I have come already through many a land,
With the marmot,
And always found something to eat
With the marmot,
Here and there,
With the marmot.
Ich komme schon durch manches Land,
Avecque la marmotte ,
Und immer was zu essen fand
Avecque la marmotte ,
Avecque si, avecque la,
Avecque la marmotte . 18
In the eighteenth century, portraits of aristocratic children playing the vielle appeared, many in idealized Savoyard costumes. The context of these portraits is that of a theatrical game. Most famous of these is the portrait by Fran ois-Hubert Drouais (1727-1775), The Sons of Monsieur de Choiseul in Savoyard Costume, later disseminated as an engraving. 19 Another more overtly theatrical portrait of the Perceval family features five children performing as street musicians for their parents. 20 One plays a vielle, another an oboe, the third a triangle, and the fourth a bagpipe, while the fifth holds out a hand requesting coins from the parents, who lean out from an open window. Other paintings more directly emphasize domesticity, such as the anonymous portrait of the Comtesse de Montagnac with two children playing at her feet. One plays a small, decorated vielle and the other holds a marmot in its box. 21
Other children, often of provincial origins, were given vielle lessons as part of their education. The music book of the Marquise de Vibraye reflects this, but she clearly showed little interest in the vielle, as she made little progress and later switched to the guitar. 22 A substantial number of children s instruments survive, and these are often decorated and quite playable. They might have functioned in much the way that a quarter-size violin, or pardessus de viole , might. Although the vielle as an educational instrument for children is poorly documented, the many surviving examples bear witness to its use in this way.
While interest in the vielle began to dissipate among members of the upper classes around 1760, interest in the instrument by the lower and middle classes increased. The English writer Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) witnessed the degree to which the vielle continued to be a part of the life of the lower classes. He toured France in 1762 and described the experience in his book A Sentimental Journey (1768). While he was traveling in a coach near Lyon, the loss of several horseshoes forced him to stop at a peasant farmhouse inhabited by an old man, his wife, five or six adult children, and their spouses. They welcomed him and offered him a simple but satisfying meal. After supper they all danced, accompanied by the old man and his wife. The old man had some fifty years ago been no mean performer upon the vielle,-and at the age he was then of, touch d it well enough for the purpose. His wife sung now and then a little to the tune,-then intermitted,-and join d her old man again, as their children and grand-children danced before them. 23
In the nineteenth century the vielle played an important role in the musical life of central France. During this period the majority of the folk music associated with the vielle was created and played by both the middle and lower classes. While this music almost died out, it was revitalized in the 1960s in the folk revival. This movement has matured in a variety of ways, and it continues to attract a large number of enthusiastic players. 24 Many groups and players who began by performing traditional music have expanded into more popular and widely commercial forms. The way that the instrument is played today differs substantially from its use in the eighteenth century, a problem also encountered by baroque violinists or flutists, whose instruments have likewise continued to evolve. To approach the eighteenth-century repertory for the vielle, the player must examine the evidence found in the treatises, the music, and the testimony of those who played and experienced the music at the time it was composed.

Figure I.2. Child hurdy-gurdy player.
1 . The first incarnation of the hurdy-gurdy, commonly known as the organistrum , was operated by two people, and the tangents were pulled against the strings with knobs.
2 . Jean-Christophe Maillard, La Vielle en France aux XVIIe et XVIIIe si cles, in Vielle roue: Territoires illimit s , 1-29 (Saint-Jouin-de-Milly: FAMDT, 1996), 12.
3 . Quoted in ibid., 15: Ce qui contribua peut- tre encore render la vielle purement populaire, c est qu il y a grande apparence que ces Aveugles et ces Pauvres jo oient tr s-mal de cet Instrument.
4 . Jean-Louis Guez de Balzac, Les Entretiens (Paris, 1657; reprinted as dition critique, edited by B. Beugnot, Paris: Librairie Marcel Didier, 1972), 500: Disons qu ils ont voulu estre Menestriers, quelque prix que ce soit, que n ayant p apprendre jo er du violon, ils se sont faits jo eurs de vielle.
5 . Tournus Manuscript, Biblioth que municipale de Tournus, ms. M.3 (facsimile edition, Geneva: ditions Minkoff, 1998).
6 . For a rustic performance, see Vittorio Ghielmi on Bagpipes from Hell , Winter Winter Basic Edition 910 050-2 (2000). For a refined performance, see Lisa Nielson on The Baroque Hurdy-Gurdy , Focus 950 (2005).
7 . This view forms the basis for Richard Leppert s study of the hurdy-gurdy and musette, Arcadia at Versailles: Noble Amateur Musicians and Their Musettes and Hurdy-Gurdies at the French Court (c. 1660-1789), A Visual Study (Amsterdam and Lisse: Swets Zeitlinger B.V., 1978). This work attempts to marginalize the significance of these instruments.
8 . Paul Fustier, La Vielle rou dans la musique baroque fran aise. Instrument de musique, objet mythique, objet fantasm ? (Paris: L Harmattan, 2006), 106-112. He analyzes Leppert s position on pages 103-104.
9 . Se trouve tout les f tes, ne manque point un op ra remis, une pi ce nouvelle, un jour de capitation, elle doit tre au fait de toutes les intrigues des gens du bel air, des vaudevilles, des pigrammes qui courent, lire les nouveaut s, en conno tre les auteurs, avoir des abb s galans, de beaux esprits sa toilette, garder le lit pour la plus l g re indisposition, se plaindre sans cesse de son teint, du peu de vivacit de ses yeux de la n gligence de sa parure, avoir des vapeurs commandement, (Oh ! C est un article essentiel) parler italien, jouer de la vielle, boire du vin de champagne; enfin rire, chanter, danser, n tre jamais en place, et se coucher tous les jours quatre heures du matin. Jean-Baptise Jourdan, Le Guerrier philosophe (Paris, 1744), 306-307.
10 . Leppert, Arcadia at Versailles , 106-107, reaches this conclusion based on iconographical research. Since the publication of this provocative study, a number of serious eighteenth-century portraits have surfaced.
11 . For example, Pierre-Louis d Aquin de Ch teau-Lyon noted the continuing debate over its musical value: The vielle will always be the subject of dispute among us, but its greatest adversaries will not deny its gaiety and vivacity [La Viele sera toujours parmi nous un sujet de dispute, mais ses plus grands adversaries ne lui refuseront pas de la gaiet et de la vivacit ], Si cle litt raire de Louis XV, ou lettres sur les hommes c l bres. Premier partie . (Amsterdam, 1745, 1753), 153.
12 . Florence G treau has extensively studied the surviving portraits. See her article Les Belles vielleuses au si cle de Louis XV. Peinture d une mode triomphante, in Vielle roue. T rritoires illimit s , edited by Pierre Imbert, 90-103 (Saint-Jouin-de-Milly: FAMDT Collection Modal, 1996). For additional portraits, see Marie-Anne Sarda, Florence G treau, Jean-Christophe Maillard, and Paul Fustier, eds., Le Vielleux: M tamorphoses d une figure d artiste du XVIIe au XIXe si cle (Lyon: Fage ditions, 2008).
13 . G treau, Les Belles vielleuses, 90-91.
14 . I wish to thank Dr. Guy Tell for preparing a draft of this section. Dr. Tell has a collection of children s vielles. For further discussion of children and the vielle, particularly the iconography, see Florence G treau, L Enfant vielleux en France: Mutations d une pratique et d un st r otype pictural, in Le Vielleux: M tamorphoses d une figure d artiste du XVIIe au XIXe si cle , edited by Anne-Marie Sarda, Florence G treau, Jean-Christophe Maillard, and Paul Fustier, 54-63 (Lyon: Fage ditions, 2008).
15 . Ibid., 55.
16 . For more on immigrant children, see Graham Robb, The Discovery of France (New York: W. W. Norton, 2007), 147-149.
17 . For further discussion of the Savoyard tradition, see Paul Fustier, La vielle roue , 137-144.
18 . Note that the refrain is in French. This song was set by Beethoven and published as op. 52, no. 7 (ca. 1790-92).
19 . The original painting is in the Frick Collection, New York.
20 . This painting is found in a private collection. See G treau, L Enfant vielleux, 56.
21 . This painting is in the Ch teau Parentignat, Issoire. See G treau, L Enfant vielleux, 56.
22 . For further discussion of this manuscript, see Sylvie Granger, Les M tiers de la musique en pays manceau et fl chois du XVII e au XIX e si cle (1661-1850), Th se de doctorat, Universit de Maine, 1995.
23 . Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (London, 1768), see the chapter titled The Grace. Note that Sterne uses the French vielle.
24 . G rard Guillaume, Vielles cornemuses en Vall e Noire et au(l)tres lieux du Berry (Ch teauroux: ditions La Bouinotte, 2013), provides a directory of the most recent groups active in central France.
The English term hurdy-gurdy is used to describe two different instruments. First, there is the mechanical organ with a mechanism much akin to that of a player piano that was played earlier in this century by immigrants who begged for money with monkeys and tin cups on the street corners of American cities. These instruments are still found in European parks and on street corners and are differentiated from the hurdy-gurdy by other names, such as orgue de Barbarie in French. For many, the term hurdy-gurdy first calls to mind this instrument.
Much less familiar is the instrument whose sound is produced by a rosin-coated wheel, turned by a crank, that, like a bow, rubs against several strings. Some of these strings function as melody strings, others as drones, giving the instrument a sound like that of a bagpipe. This instrument is found throughout continental Europe as far east as western Russia and may be the only instrument truly indigenous to that continent. It has a history which goes back to the eleventh century. In different times and in different regions, it has taken many shapes and been given different names. All European languages, however, with the exception of English, differentiate between the mechanical organ and the bowed instrument. No other language or group of people draws parallels between these two instruments.
The following discussion centers around the bowed instrument as it appeared and was used in eighteenth-century France. It is therefore appropriate to refer to it by the name by which it was known in that time and in that place: the vielle.
No musical instrument has suffered so grievously from changes in social status as the vielle. In eleventh-century Germany the vielle was associated with church music. 1 By the twelfth century it was associated with music performed in the courts of the nobility. By the fourteenth century it had become associated with the lower classes and, eventually, by the fifteenth century, it became associated with blind beggars. Blindness was regarded as a physical manifestation of inner or moral blindness, and, therefore, the very appearance of the instrument in a painting suggested sin. 2 Although certain painters at the beginning of the seventeenth century, such as Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669) and Georges de la Tour (1593-1652), began to regard blind vielle players as victims of a tragic infirmity, the instrument retained a repellent reputation.
The views toward blind beggars and their instruments are reflected in the introduction to Marin Mersenne s oft-quoted description of the vielle in Harmonie universelle of 1636.
If men of rank played the vielle as a rule, it would not be regarded with such contempt. But because it is played only by the poor, and particularly by blind men who earn their living from this instrument, it is held in less esteem than others, but then it is not as pleasing. This does not stand in the way of what I will explain here, since science belongs to both rich and poor, and there is nothing so low and vile in nature that it not be worthy of discussion. 3
Social attitudes toward the instrument in the early part of the seventeenth century based on Mersenne and other writers have been discussed in detail. 4 A number of civil documents surviving from the seventeenth century and published in secondary sources indicate that however poor players of the vielle in the first part of the seventeenth century may have been, they often had families and a place to live and legalized the events of their lives, such as births, deaths, and marriages, as did every other citizen. 5 Documents indicate that at least some players took musician-apprentices, as did other musicians of the period. Some were members of the Corporation St. Julien-des-M n triers so viciously satirized by Fran ois Couperin (1668-1733) in his piece Les Fastes de la grande et anci nne Mxnxstrxndxsx from Book II (1716-1717). The Seconde Acte of this piece, titled Les Vi leux et les gueux (The vielle players and the beggars), consists of two airs de vi le. The piece accurately reflects the sound of the vielle with its c-g drones; however, the satirical element must be taken with a grain of salt. The music limps along, evoking the decrepit condition of those who played the instrument. Couperin devoted much effort to gaining a noble title, and his desire to separate himself from the lowly status associated with professional musicians during this era must be borne in mind.
The first documented appearance of the vielle at the French court is in Jean-Baptiste Lully s Ballet de l impatience , presented at the Louvre on February 19, 1661. The Third Entr e of Part IV (LWV 14/47-50) begins with an instrumental introduction for the entrance of blind beggars. This is followed by an instrumental section labeled ten blind men impatient of losing time for earning a living. A r cit follows, which in mock solemnity compares the unfortunate situation of the blind men with love that can be as blind as they are. The blind men then play an air on the vielle. The music contrasts with what precedes and follows in its diatonic and harmonically static nature: it is clearly composed with drones in mind. This piece would have been performed with the vielles doubling the violins on the top line of the five-part string ensemble (see example 1.1 ).

Example 1.1. Jean-Baptiste Lully, Ballet de l impatience (LWV 14/50), Second air pour les aveugles jouant de la vielle. In this example the middle parts have been removed.
The vielle was further used in Lully s Ballet des sept plan tes , composed of ten entr es, a work that concluded the performance of Hercule amoureux (Ercole amante) by Francesco Cavalli on February 7, 1662. In Lully s ballet a group of pilgrims are given a piece for vielles and ensemble (LWV 17/21). The use of the vielle in this work following so closely on the Ballet de l impatience suggests that the instrument was regarded as a novelty, but using it twice seems to have been enough for Lully: he never composed music for it again.
Due to the paucity of sources dealing with the vielle in seventeenth-century France and its increasing use among the aristocracy, most writers have come to depend on the history of the vielle published by Antoine de Terrasson (1705-1782) in 1741. 6 Terrasson republished his account in 1768, revealing his lifelong enthusiasm for the instrument. 7 Terrasson was a musical amateur who played the musette, flute, and vielle, as well as a jurist and man of letters who was well equipped to argue a case. His purpose was to demonstrate that the vielle deserved respectability due to its antiquity. Tracing the origins of the instrument, he links it with ancient Greece and the lyre of Orpheus. While it is all too easy to attack the obvious inaccuracies in his discussion of Greek myths and music history, as other writers have done, it is well to remember that many instrumental treatises make a case for the importance of their subject by arguing that great age confers respectability. 8 When Terrasson arrives at the period within living memory of the people around him, he demonstrates a profound understanding of the evolution of his instrument. Terrasson describes the arrival at court of two vielle players named La Roze and Janot, perhaps at the invitation of an enthusiastic courtier, sometime after the first operas of Lully had stimulated an interest in the instrument among the aristocracy. 9 His discussion of the appearance of the vielle at court after 1671, possibly about 1680, appears to be based on testimony which can to some degree be corroborated from other sources. 10
Throughout the seventeenth century the vielle shared its existence with the musette, a small bagpipe played by bellows pumped by the left elbow and requiring no breath from the player. This instrument had become fashionable with the upper classes in the early seventeenth century and continued to be popular until the end of the reign of Louis XV (about 1770), after which time it became extinct as a result of changing taste. This contrasts with the vielle, which has been played continuously until the present. The musette was cultivated by two families of professional players attached to the court musical establishment: the Hotteterres and the Ch devilles. It became an accepted orchestral instrument and has frequent, and sometimes extensive, parts in the great French operas of the early eighteenth century. Much of the music for the vielle can also be played on the musette and vice versa.
What is often overlooked in Mersenne s discussion of the vielle in the Harmonie universelle is his speculation on how the vielle could be improved. This flexibility-the ability of makers to alter it to conform to changing musical styles and social function-has characterized the instrument since its origin and would be the basis for its growth in popularity throughout the eighteenth century.
It seems likely that the vielle began its rise in society in the late seventeenth century with the development of a slightly more refined instrument that Terrasson refers to as a vielle carr e : a vielle with a characteristic shape generally described today as trapezoidal (see figure 1.1 ). This trapezoidal instrument was an attempt to reduce the size of the body while keeping the same string length. 11 The three melody strings were tuned in D; one was an octave lower than the other two, with drones in D and A. Thus it was slightly larger than the vielle that later became standard in the eighteenth century (the melody strings of the latter were tuned to G). In spite of later innovations, this basic shape for the vielle continued to be used throughout the eighteenth century. 12 It is pictured by Watteau in the second decade of the eighteenth century in the hands of gentlemen or idealized peasants in rustic settings. 13 The instrument was most likely used at this time to play the bransles and other dances associated with the French countryside.

Figure 1.1. Vielle carr e after an instrument dated 1774. Copy by Thomas Norwood.

Example 1.2. Above and facing , Jean-Joseph Mouret, Le Philosophe tromp par la nature , La Feste de village, entr e.

Music created specifically for the vielle carr e is found in an op ra comique by Jean-Joseph Mouret (1682-1738), Le Philosophe tromp par la nature , presented at the Com die de Saint Jory in 1725. In the final scene of this work, a group of grape harvesters ( vendangeurs ) make their entrance to the accompaniment of a vielle, bass viol, and continuo ( example 1.2 ). They make light of the philosopher s avoidance of the pleasures of life: their ignorance of Latin does not affect their enjoyment of eating, drinking, dancing, and making love. While the composer is not specific concerning the instrumentation of the following numbers, some would be appropriate for performance with vielle and others must have been performed on other instruments, since they make use of keys incompatible with the drones. This music is in A major and was composed for a vielle in D-A, probably the trapezoidal instrument. Presumably the presence of the vielle in this scene is justified by its rustic setting. However, the use of the vielle in the first number of Mouret s opera is anything but rustic: it is treated in an expressi

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