What is a Hurdy-gurdy?

   The Hurdy-gurdy is a musical instrument of rustic England. It consists of four strings stretched on, a box after the manner of a lute. Two are tuned a fifth apart for the production of a drone bass. The other two are tuned in unison. They can be shortened by pressing finger keys. The strings are sounded by a rosined wheel. The wheel is turned by a crank in the left hand, the right hand being free to play the finger keys. The hurdy-gurdy is carried usually by a band around the neck. It is a crude, harsh instrument, with little musical com¬pass, and, indeed, with little music of any sort. It works more or less like a hand organ. It dates from the ninth century.