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Tekerőlant with three strings, made by the Hungarian hurdy-gurdy player, clarinet player and singer Bársony Mihály (1915–1989).

Tekerőlant ( Hungarian , "hurdy-gurdy"), also tekerő, forgólant , is a hurdy-gurdy with a guitar- shaped flat body and mostly three strings, which is played in Hungarian folk music. The hurdy-gurdy, which was previously widespread in Eastern Europe and was first mentioned in Hungary in the 16th century, only became popular as a folk musical instrument, especially in the Hungarian lowlands , at the end of the 18th century . In the dance music of the 19th century, semi-professional musicians in the country often played the tekerőlant together with a clarinet . The tekerőlant had almost disappeared by the middle of the 20th century . Since then it has been used again as a soloist and for vocal accompaniment.

Origin and Distribution

Since the hurdy-gurdy, like the much older bagpipe, is a drone instrument , it made sense to look for its origin in the Mediterranean and Asia, where a drone or at least a tonal center is part of the essence of music. Instruments such as the antique reed instrument aulos or the widespread double flute with a drone pipe appear as models . In this context, the type of instrument of the hurdy-gurdy should be traced back to an instrument list of the Muslim brotherhood Ichwan as-Safa , which worked in Basra in the 10th century . One of the listed musical instruments that produce a continuous tone was equated with a description of a musical instrument by the Persian author Ibn Gaibī († 1435) completed in 1405, in which Henry George Farmer believed he recognized a hurdy-gurdy in 1962. According to Christopher Page, this attribution is just as inconclusive as an Arab import of the hurdy-gurdy to Spain in the course of the Islamic conquest . The drone playing style, which is the starting point for the development of the hurdy-gurdy, is found in two-stringed long-necked lutes that are played in folk music in the Balkans and whose name translates as "with two strings": Macedonian dvotelnik, with the Turks in Macedonia ikitelli and in Albania çiftteli . The player grabs the melody on one side and plucks the other open string at the same time. Musically, this corresponds to the double flutes and bagpipes used by shepherds. Furthermore, drone strings characterize the singing accompaniment of the 15th / 16th Century popular string instrument Lira da Braccio .

Regardless of this style of playing, which comes from folk music, the shape of the hurdy-gurdy represents a further development of the monochord , which serves musicological purposes and is used by monks to accompany sung verses . The earliest representations of hurdy-gurdy from the 12th century do not belong in the rural but rather in the ecclesiastical Environment. The oldest hurdy-gurdy hurdy-gurdy, called organistrum , which could be operated by two players, possibly helped the monks with the correct intonation when practicing new songs, whereby the singer could have pressed the keys and his teacher turned the crank. Since the 13th century, the illustrations, mainly from France and Germany, have shown the general features that are known to this day, but varied in their design, including a box-shaped body, push buttons with tangents to shorten the three, four or later more strings , and a resin-coated coating wheel that is driven by a crank.

Ninera in Slovakia

From the 12th to the 14th century, the hurdy-gurdy was obviously a respected instrument in church circles and in monasteries before the late Middle Ages in a smaller, by a person-to-use design to a symphonia was mentioned accompanying instrument of minstrels. Soon it was part of the equipment of the blind street singers and beggars, men and women. Michael Praetorius wrote in connection with this social decline in Syntagma musicum (1615) of a "peasant and circulating women-Leyer". In rural areas, the hurdy-gurdy was also a part of folk musical instruments until the 19th century. In the 15./16. In the 19th century, the hurdy-gurdy experienced the greatest expansion in Europe. It reached Iceland in the north, where it was known as fon (or simfon, from symphonia ) at the latest in the first half of the 16th century , and in the 15th century as lira via Poland (today lira korbowa ) to Ukraine and from there came to Russia ( lira, relya ). Especially in France, where the hurdy-gurdy was valued as a folk musical instrument, it found its way into court music in the 18th century, alongside the fiddle ( vièle ) and the small bagpipe musette, which was then fashionable . Today the hurdy-gurdy is only played in a few regions in Europe in an uninterrupted tradition in folk music. These include mainly in central France the historical provinces of Berry , Bourbonnais and Auvergne , the area around Krosno on the Polish-Slovak border and the distribution area of ​​the tekerőlant in the Hungarian lowlands. The ninera in Slovakia is less well known .

With the name kintorna, which was common in the 19th century , a museum, Hungarian hurdy-gurdy.

In Hungary, the hurdy-gurdy imported from Western Europe is reliably mentioned for the first time in written evidence from the mid-16th century. Until reaching back into the 11th century codices , in which the names Simphonia and quint nutrition (Hungarian kintorna be) above, shall be deemed questionable sources. Quint Erna is in the 16th century for a plucked lute similar to Mandora , while Hungarian kintorna in the 19th century "hurdy-gurdy", otherwise " barrel organ " could mean; the two Hungarian codices in question presumably meant a kind of psaltery with ten strings. The oldest Hungarian illustration of a hurdy-gurdy comes from the 17th century and can be found on the coat of arms of the Lantos family ("lute player", for musicians Lantos was a name added with pride). The hurdy-gurdy did not become popular until the end of the 18th century and its typical shape was probably only obtained in the 19th century, when migrant workers introduced a Tyrolean hurdy-gurdy type during the Austro-Hungarian monarchy . It cannot be said whether the typical Hungarian form of the hurdy-gurdy is based on a Tyrolean model or whether both go back to older Slavic predecessors. The thesis of an Austrian origin is supported by the fact that in those areas where the modern form of the tekerőlant occurred at the end of the 19th century, large public building projects were carried out with Austrian workers.

In any case, the hurdy-gurdy was widespread in large areas of the lowlands in the 19th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, it still occurred around the island of Csepel south of Budapest and in the south of the great Hungarian lowlands, especially around the city of Szentes .


Two modern tekerőlant

The names tekerőlant and forgólant are derived from the Hungarian tekerni and forogni , "to turn", and lant means "lute". The usual short form is tekerő ("twisted"). Other colloquial names with reference to the form or function of the instrument are tekerőhegedű ("rotary violin"), tekerőmuzsika ("rotary music"), szentlélekmuzsika ("holy spirit music"), kolduslant ("beggar lute") and parasztlant ("peasant lute") ). Onomatopoeic terms are nyenyer, nyenyere (derogatory), nyekere and nyekerő .

The tekerőlant is a relatively large hurdy-gurdy with a guitar- shaped body, on whose waisted long sides the connecting brackets between the individual frame elements can be seen more or less clearly. This body shape is the oldest and most widespread. The total length is 70 to 77 centimeters. The ceiling is flat or slightly curved, in the longitudinal direction it drops slightly towards the pegbox; that is, the frame is slightly higher at the bottom than at the top. From the roughly square pegbox ( kulcsszekrény , "key cabinet " or kulcsház , "key house"), four strong, 15-centimeter-long pegs ( kulcs , "keys") made of boxwood protrude upwards, the head of which is broadly flattened like the violin . The key box ( kottaház , “music house”) placed on the ceiling in the middle connects to the pegbox. While hurdy-gurdy in France and Spain have large disc wheels (with a diameter of over 17 centimeters as in the Galician zanfona ), the wheels of northern and eastern European hurdy-gurdy, such as the Swedish vevlira, are usually smaller and less than 15 centimeters in diameter. Smaller wheels refer to an older stage of development, because for the wheels previously made of solid wood, approximately 14 centimeters was the largest possible diameter, if one did not want to accept excessive changes in shape due to the expansion of the material with increased moisture. With a small wheel diameter, however, the number of strings is limited, which is why such hurdy-gurdy hurdy-gurdy have only three strings. The disc wheel ( kerék , "wheel") is driven by a hand crank at the lower end via an axle.

The flat body base ( hátlap , " back plate " or alap , "base") is cut out of the tear-resistant, but otherwise different types of wood, maple , poplar or vinegar tree with a thickness of around 7 millimeters. A 4 millimeter deep groove is cut all around the edge so that the 3 millimeter thick, curved segments of the frames ( oldallap , "side panel " or oldaldeszka , "side cover") will later find support. Likewise, recesses are made in the base plate for the wider connecting parts of the frames - two on each long side and one in the middle of the lower end. Two hardwood panels about 18 centimeters long extend the body at the upper end and form the side walls of the pegbox. If these are glued vertically to the base plate, the frames made of poplar, maple or fir wood are bent, fitted into the grooves and also glued. A plate made of 8 millimeter thick hardwood, placed across in front of the pegbox, forms the upper end of the body. Several strips fitted lengthways and crossways between the frames should ensure that the disc wheel and the crank are securely fastened. A vertical support in front of the wheel connects the construction with the base plate. The approximately 17 millimeter thick disc wheel is turned from pear wood and carefully sanded smooth on the outer edge. A square hole in the center is used to accommodate the iron crank axle, which is inserted from the outside. The crank ( hajtó , " impeller ") is curved in a circular or S-shape and ends in a rotatable knob ( gomb , "head") made of hardwood that is so big that it can be encircled by hand. The crank used to be made of cast iron, today brass is mostly used. The now glued-on top ( tető, " top ") made of 4 to 6 millimeters thick fir wood has no visible or only two small, circular sound holes ( hanglyuk ) in the lower area.

When the instrument is finished, the long rectangular key box is put on, which is wider than the French hurdy-gurdy and encloses the entire mechanism. The keys ( kotta , "notes") are, as usual with hurdy-gurdy, on the left side facing away from the player. Older diatonic instruments from the 19th century have a row of keys ( kottasor , "row of notes"), which corresponds to the white keys on the piano, with chromatic hurdy-gurdy a second row of keys, offset inward, for the additional semitones . Both rows of keys result in a piano keyboard. So that the keys are secured against lateral movement, they are inserted through square recesses in boards inserted lengthways. The upper keys lead through recesses in a longitudinal board built in to the left of the melody string, the lower keys run under this board and through openings in another board behind on the right. In contrast to the French hurdy-gurdy with angular keys lying next to one another, the keys on the tekerőlant are rounded and spaced small. Their shape is rectangular or T-shaped. A tangent is attached to the top of each key in the rear area, which touches the melody string from the side when the keys are pressed and thus limits its oscillation length. The tangents ( kottalevél , " Notenblatt " or kottakölök , "Notenkind") have the shape of small flags and can be easily rotated in their hole to fine-tune the pitches. When playing, the instrument is turned down a little towards the key side. Short pegs on the keys just behind the left wall of the box prevent the keys from sliding out too far. The key box glued to the ceiling is given a hinged, arched cover for protection ( kármentő, "damage prevention"). Another, removable cover protects the disc wheel ( kerékfedő , "wheel cover"). It consists of a semicircular elastic strip of wood that is wedged between the borders on both sides.

Hardwood snare bridge, in the right foreground part of the snare wedge made of dark colored wood.

Usually the tekerőlant is only equipped with three strings, even if there are four pegs . The melody string ( prím ) runs in the middle over the disc wheel to a tailpiece. The higher of the two drone strings on the right side via a special snare web at the bottom and is recsegő called ( "rattle", "buzzing") on the left side extends the bass string ( BoGo , "Bass"). The bridge of the right drone string consists of a 10 × 25 × 3 millimeter piece of hardwood, which is loosely connected with a small peg on a wooden bracket glued lengthways to the ceiling, the snar stand ( recsegőállvány ). A wooden plate (snarling wedge, recsegő-ék ) is inserted into the space between the ceiling and the snare stand so that it rests on the string with a slight pressure between the lower string attachment and the bridge. When the string sounds while playing, its vibrations are transmitted to the loosely standing bridge, which now constantly hits the ceiling and produces a rasping noise. The strength of the snarling sound can be changed by adjusting the wooden plate. Schnarrstege occurs with some hurdy-gurdy from France to Eastern Europe, also with the Slovak ninera , and are independent of the size of the wheel. The construction of the scratching device at the tekerőlant , however, differs from that of the French hurdy-gurdy. The rest of the hurdy-gurdy hurdy-gurdy found in Slavic-speaking areas, however, are missing snarling bridges.

The A or G string of a cello is usually used as string material today . So that the strings on the disc wheel rubbed with resin ( rosin ) do not wear out too quickly, they are wrapped with cotton wool at this point. The melody string of the three-string tekerőlant is tuned to e 1 , the snoring string to a and the bass string an octave lower to A. On earlier five-string instruments there were two melody strings (both e 1 ), a drone string (a), a snoring string (a) and a bass string (A) available. A four-string hurdy-gurdy had only one melody string (e 1 ) and the same drone strings. The melody string has a pitch range of two octaves (up to e 3 ), which most players only use up to a 2 , because the upper notes sound bad on many instruments. Although the hurdy-gurdy hurdy-gurdy is in principle chromatically tuned, the semitones b 1 and b 2 as well as dis 3 are often missing . Another tuning for a three-string instrument is: melody string f sharp 1 , snarr string b and bass bordun B.

Style of play

The hurdy-gurdy is particularly suitable as an accompanying instrument for singing, because for technical reasons only relatively simple melodies can be played at a slow pace. The basic note of the melody is a 1 according to the drone strings and not the empty melody string. When playing quietly and slowly, the snoring device of the right drone string can be removed, so that this string sounds softly. Contrary to this way of playing, called halk ("quiet"), the snoring plate is particularly tightly clamped in fast dance songs. The drone strings can also be rhythmized and strengthened by jerky crank movements. Before a released key slides out while the player has already pressed the next key, a certain time elapses during which the empty melody string can be heard together with the drone strings.

In a dance music ensemble, until the middle of the 20th century, the hurdy-gurdy was preferably assigned a clarinet ( tárogató ) or, more rarely, a violin, in order to use these instruments to amplify the melody that is drowned out by the loud drone strings in the hurdy-gurdy. The hurdy-gurdy, which in the great Hungarian plains mainly accompanied folk songs and dances in the csárdás music, was traditionally played mainly by men and only occasionally by women. Occasions were weddings and other family celebrations with dance events in farmhouses.

Since the hurdy-gurdy is well suited to keeping a steady rhythm, it is suitable for csárdás performances where individual sets last up to 45 minutes. The typical rural Hungarian folk music is unanimous and is content with a melody line and an unaccompanied drone. The tárogató with a conical game tube was only introduced towards the end of the 19th century. Since then, farmers have also been using the drone zither ( citera ) to accompany drone-like melodies. The Hungarian double flute kettős furulya also produces a drone in addition to the melody . Semi -professional competition for the part-time farmer ensembles with tekerőlant and tárogató were the gypsy bands , which transferred old melodies from the bagpipe to the violin. Sometimes the gypsy bands used the violin only as a drone accompaniment, the gardon , a stringed instrument struck with a stick, with a resonance body about the size of a cello.

After the tekerőlant practically disappeared around the middle of the 20th century, the musician and folk singer Bársony Mihály, who came from a rural environment, began to revive the tradition of the hurdy-gurdy in the 1960s and popularize it in television appearances in the 1970s. A long-playing record released in Budapest in 1964 was the first in a series documenting traditional Hungarian folk music. A selection of folk musical instruments can be heard in the various folk music styles, including the flute zither, violin ( hegedű ), gardon , friction drum ( kőcsőgduda or kőcsőgbőgő ) and tekerőlant.

One of the most famous Hungarian hurdy-gurdy players today is András Németh, born in 1984. He teaches hurdy-gurdy at the Liszt Ferenc Music Academy in Budapest.


  • Arle Lommel, Balázs Nagy: The Form, History, and Classification of the “Tekerőlant” (Hungarian Hurdy-Gurdy) . In: The Galpin Society Journal , Vol. 60, April 2007, pp. 181-189, 109
  • Bálint Sárosi: The folk musical instruments of Hungary . ( Ernst Emsheimer , Erich Stockmann (Ed.): Handbook of European Folk Music Instruments. Series 1, Volume 1) Deutscher Verlag für Musik, Leipzig 1967, pp. 50–55

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. See Emanuel Winternitz: Bagpipes and Hurdy-Gurdies in Their Social Setting. In: The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series, Vol. 2, No. 1, Summer 1943, pp. 56-83
  2. Peter Williams: The Organ in Western Culture, 750-1250. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2004, p. 31
  3. Henry George Farmer : ʿAbdalqādir ibn Ġaibī on Instruments of Music. In: Oriens, Vol. 15, December 31, 1962, pp. 242-248
  4. Christopher Page: The Medieval Organistrum and Symphonia: 1: A Legacy from the East? In: The Galpin Society Journal, Vol. 35, March 1982, pp. 37-44, here pp. 38f
  5. Vasil Hadžimanov: The Dvotelnik, a Macedonian folk instrument. In: Journal of the International Folk Music Council , Vol. 15, 1963, pp. 82f
  6. Christopher Page, 1982, p. 42
  7. ^ Andreas Michel, Oskár Elschek: Instruments of folk music . In: Doris Stockmann (Ed.): Folk and popular music in Europe. ( New Handbook of Musicology, Volume 12) Laaber, Laaber 1992, p. 304
  8. ^ Marianne Bröcker: hurdy-gurdy. II. Story . In: MGG Online , November 2016 ( Music in the past and present , 1995)
  9. ^ Willi Apel: Harvard Dictionary of Music . Harvard University Press, Cambridge 1969, p. 396
  10. ^ Sibyl Marcuse : A Survey of Musical Instruments . Harper & Row, New York 1975, p. 462
  11. ^ Marianne Bröcker: The hurdy-gurdy. 2nd Edition. Publishing house for systematic musicology, Bonn-Bad Godesberg 1977, p. 424 (partial English translation at hurdygurdy.com )
  12. Arle Lommel, Balázs Nagy, 2007, pp. 184f
  13. ^ Bálint Sárosi, 1967, p. 50
  14. Arle Lommel, Balázs Nagy, 2007, p. 183
  15. Arle Lommel, Balázs Nagy, 2007, p. 182
  16. Bálint Sárosi, 1967, pp. 51–53
  17. Arle Lommel, Balázs Nagy, 2007, p. 184
  18. Bálint Sárosi, 1967, pp. 54f
  19. ^ Bálint Sárosi: Hungary. II: Folk Music. 5. Instruments. (iii) Chordophones. In: Grove Music Online , 2001
  20. ^ Bálint Sárosi, 1967, p. 55
  21. Arle Lommel, Balázs Nagy, 2007, p. 188
  22. ^ Bálint Sárosi: Hungary. 4. Instrumental music. In: MGG Online , November 2016
  23. ^ Hungarian Folk Music, LP with mono recordings, Qualiton Record, Budapest 1964. Review by Wolfgang Laade in: Ethnomusicology, Vol. 14, No. 3, September 1970, p. 526
  24. ^ András Németh . Smithsonian Folklife Festival, 2013
  25. ^ András Németh . Liszt Academy, Folk Music Department