Nursery Rhymes


Medieval life and Times

Definition and Description of the Organistrum
Definition and description of the Organistrum: The Organistrum can be described as the earliest known form of the hurdy-gurdy. The organistrum was large enough to rest on the knees of two performers sitting side by side. One turned the crank which set the wheel in motion, whilst the other, the musician, manipulated the keys. The word organistrum is derived from organum and instrumentum.

The Organistrum was a stringed instrument of the period. Medieval musical instruments such as a fiddle or vielle were used as model. The proportions were increased for the convenience of holding the instrument and of dividing the performance between two persons. Inside the body of the organistrum was the wheel, having a tire of well greased leather and working easily through an aperture in the sound-board. The three strings rested on the wheel which were supported on a bridge of the same height.

Family of Instruments: The Organistrum belongs to the family of String instruments.

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